Thursday, September 17, 2015

Distinguishing between chastening and judgment

Hebrew 12:5-8 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezekiel 24 begins with God likening the judgment of Jerusalem to a boiling pot of meat being spilt out on the ground and then the pot returned to sit on the fire to be consumed in the flames. As Ezekiel was writing these words, the Bible says it was in the same year that Jerusalem itself was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. To think things could not get worse, God tells Ezekiel one of the saddest and traumatic things recorded in the prophetic books - that Ezekiel's wife was going to die. As the prophecy comes true, Ezekiel is told to go and preach to the people another message of judgment. 

We ask ourselves - why such extreme measures? Should not every instance of straying away from the Lord be treated as sad and traumatic? Should we not hate sin so much that the thought of doing it brings us grief? Only the Lord can sustain and protect us. Only He is faithful. As you read the other prophecies against the nations and enemies of Jerusalem's past, we are reminded of the fact that God alone can deal effectively with our past. There is a distinction to be made between the Lord's chastening of His people and judgment.

God's chastening of His people for wrongdoing is different from the judgment He puts upon unbelievers. Chastening means God is purifying His sons and daughters with the prospect of restoring them, whereas God's judgment of the wicked is giving them what they truly wanted - life and eternity without Him. 

James in James 3:13-15 writes about the wisdom from above and the wisdom from below. The wisdom from above is referring to salvation and the life of faith that follows from the miracle of the new birth. The wisdom from below speaks of the life of unbelief that draws its direction from the world, the flesh and the devil. Only one will get you to God, whereas the other will lead you away from God. Thankfully scripture clearly lays out for us that Jesus Christ alone is the Wisdom from God in Whom we are to by grace through faith believe in and trust for salvation, life and eternity. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

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