This Month's Subject: God's Dealings with His Children

Hebrews 12:5‑11  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The subject worked out for this month is-
1st. Those who despised the chastening of the Lord, 2nd. Those who fainted under it, 3rd. Those who were exercised by it.
A few of our correspondents have included in their papers those who were not children of God, but as this was only in a few divisions, we have not included them in the list. In many instances, however, the manner of God's dealings is full of instruction for us, and may well form a subject for study,-see the cases of Cain, Saul, and others.
There are instances too of God's children, of those chastisement and its object we are told, but not the result, for instance Hymenaeus and Alexander whom the apostle Paul delivered unto Satan that they might "learn not to blaspheme." We may call attention also to the warnings to the churches in Rev. 2 &
DIVISION I.
"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord."
LOT left the path of faith, seeking that which the world could offer him: he pitched his tent toward Sodom (Gen. 13:1212Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12)), he dwelt in Sodom (Gen. 14:1212And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. (Genesis 14:12)), but though chastened by being carried captive, on his return he appears quite unexercised, and we next see him sitting in the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19) he is involved in the judgment of that wicked city, but is saved through the mercy of God, suffering the loss of all that which had attracted him, and does not appear from his subsequent history to have been exercised in soul by God's dealings with him.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, (Num. 13) believed the report brought by the 10 spies, rather than the testimony of Caleb and Joshua, and refusing to enter the land, murmured against God (ch. 14:27); in judgment God declares that none of them shall enter the land; but refusing to bow to His word, they presumptuously march toward Canaan, and are smitten by the Amalekites and Canaanites.
ASA relied on the king of Syria and not on the Lord, and for this cause he was visited with the judgment of constant wars; instead of being humbled, however, he put in prison the prophet whom God had sent to announce the judgment. 2 Chron. 14, 15, 16.
JOASH and the people of Judah, after the death of Jehoiada, lapsed into idolatry, and when God testified against them by the mouth of Zechariah, they slew him. In the end the judgment against Judah was executed by the Syrians, and Joash was slain by his servants. 2 Chron. 24:17-2617Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. 18And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. 19Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. 20And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. 21And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord. 22Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon it, and require it. 23And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus. 24For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash. 25And when they were departed from him, (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchres of the kings. 26And these are they that conspired against him; Zabad the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess, and Jehozabad the son of Shimrith a Moabitess. (2 Chronicles 24:17‑26).
AMAZIAH'S history is almost identical with Joash's, 2 Chron. 25
DIVISION II.
" Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him."
AARON, when judgment had fallen upon his house in the persons of his sons Nadab and Abihu, is not able to fulfill his priestly duties in eating the sin offering. Lev. 10
DAVID in seeking to bring the ark from Kirjathjearim, fails to observe God's order (1 Chron. 15:1313For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. (1 Chronicles 15:13)) and Uzza putting forth his hand to support it is smitten by God. David is afraid (faints under the judgment) and the ark remains in the house of Obed-edom.
DIVISION III.
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to
them that are exercised thereby."
ADAM and EVE, for their disobedience in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, are excluded from the garden and become subject to death: they appear to have had faith in the word of God and, by the names they gave their sons, to have looked for the promised seed.
JACOB in his whole life and wanderings appears to be under the chastening hand of God for his want of faith in seeking to make sure of the promised blessing (Gen. 27): in his latter days, especially after his reunion with Joseph he evinces exercise of soul.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL appear during their sojourn in Egypt to have been wholly given up to idolatry (see Ezek. 20:5-95And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the Lord your God; 6In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: 7Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 8But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. (Ezekiel 20:5‑9)); for this judgment fell upon them at the hand of Pharaoh; they cried unto God, and though at first they appear to have fainted under the affliction (Ex. 2:2323And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. (Exodus 2:23), &c.), and then to have refused the deliverance (Chapter 5:21), they were eventually delivered and, when across the Red sea praise God for his mercy to them. During the absence of Moses on the Mount, they made a golden calf and worshipped it (Ex. 32); in judgment 3000 of them were slain by the children of Levi, and afterward the people appear to have humbled themselves (33:6.)
In the person of Achan (Josh. 7) they sinned by taking part of the spoil of Jericho: in judgment they are defeated by the men of Ai, but on their clearing themselves by the death of Achan they are victorious.
MIRIAM AND AARON speak against Moses, and in chastisement Miriam is smitten with leprosy: they repent and at the intercession of Moses she is restored. Num. 11
SAMSON revealed the secret of his strength to Delilah and in judgment he is taken by the Philistines and his eyes put out. In prison he appears to have been exercised by the chastisement, and his prayer to God that he may be avenged of his enemies is heard.
ELI did not restrain his sons in their evil course, and their judgment is announced first by a man of God (1 Sam. 2:2727And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? (1 Samuel 2:27)), and then by Samuel (ch. 3:18.) He appears to have humbled himself (ch. 3:18),
DAVID sinned against Uriah in procuring his death that he might take Bathsheba for his wife: he humbled himself and confessed his sin to Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1313And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13); Psa. 51) nevertheless he is chastened by the death of his son.
He numbered the people (which Joab saw to be wrong): in chastisement God sends a pestilence on Israel, and David recognizing the sin to be his, humbles himself before God. 2 Sam. 24
REHOBOAM (2 Chron. 12:11And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. (2 Chronicles 12:1)) forsook the law of the Lord, and is delivered into the hand of Shishak, King of Egypt: he humbles himself, and the judgment, though not altogether removed, is lightened.
JEHOSHAPHAT joined himself with Ahab, king of Israel, to war against Syria; for this Jehu the prophet warns him that wrath is upon him from the Lord: the judgment appears to take the shape of an invasion by the Moabites and Ammonites, over whom, however, Jehoshaphat and the men of Judah gained a victory, having first humbled themselves before God. 2 Chron. 18; 19; 20.
NOTE.-Some may judge that Jehoshaphat should rather have been placed in the first division, inasmuch as he a second time commits the sin for which the chastisement of God had already fallen on him.
HEZEKIAH. "But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up; therefore there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." 2 Chron. 32:25, 2625But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. 26Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:25‑26); see also for his sin, 2 Kings 20:12-1912At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. 14Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. 15And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. 16And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord. 17Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. 18And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. 19Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days? (2 Kings 20:12‑19) and Jer. 26:18,1918Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. 19Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls. (Jeremiah 26:18‑19).
EZRA & NEHEMIAH identified themselves with the sin of the children of Israel, who were scattered amongst the nations, in consequence of their disobedience. They make confession before God, and are humbled and exercised about the condition of the people, and of the city, and receive the permission of the king of Persia to return to Jerusalem.
JOB. We do not read of any sin of Job's on account of which he was so sorely chastised; on the contrary, we have God's own testimony as to his integrity and uprightness (ch. 1: 8). Yet the whole book shows plainly that he had never seen himself in the light of God's presence (ch. 33:9), and it is to this end-the knowledge of himself and of God-that the chastisement brings him (ch. 42:5, 6). Truly we may repeat the words of Heb. 12:1010For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10), " but he for our profit that we may be partakers of his holiness."
JONAH is commanded to testify against Nineveh: instead, however, of obeying the command he flees to Joppa and takes ship to Tarshish; on the way, however, the judgment of God overtakes him in the shape of a storm: he is thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish: he humbles himself before God and is released, and on a second command testifies against Nineveh.
ZACHARIAS does not believe the word of God by the angel, foretelling the birth of John, and in consequence is smitten with dumbness (Luke 1:1919And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. (Luke 1:19)): on the birth of John his tongue is loosed and he praises God.
THE CHURCH at Corinth permitted sin in their midst (ch. 5.); for this probably and for other reasons, the judgment of God fell upon them (ch. 11:30): at the rebuke of Paul they humble themselves, and clear themselves before God (2 Cor. 7:1111For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:11)).
PAUL receives a thorn in the flesh that he might not be exalted above measure, and might learn that the Lord's strength is made perfect in weakness.
This dealing of God with the apostle had more the character of a preventative than of chastisement.
The history of the Children of Israel abounds in so many instances both of Divisions II. and III. that we have not been able to insert all, but only a few selected examples. In many cases, especially those recorded in the book of Judges, they appear to have humbled themselves under the hand of God, and to have been delivered from their enemies: in a brief time, however, they sinned again, so that the exercise of soul would not appear to have been of a very abiding character.