For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live. For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (NKJV)
In turning their attention away from those who had gone before, and our attention as well, and turning that attention toward the Lord Jesus, the writer repeats and amplifies what he said in v. 2, “Consider Him….” Not just “look,” as in v. 2, but “consider.” Not just a casual glance, a passing interest, but spend some time looking at Him, thinking about Him, who He was and what He did.
In the verses before us, what He did was to endure the hostility of the leaders of His culture. Or, as the KJV has it, the “contradiction of sinners against Himself.” The word translated “hostilities” is “antilogia,” literally, “to speak against.” I think “contradiction” sums it up nicely. And it’s the first word in the sentence, emphasizing this action of sinners against the Lord Jesus.
This focus was to be for them an encouragement and strengthening, as it took them away from what they themselves were suffering. They were to look to that One who had suffered with and for them, who had made it possible to look ahead to a day when suffering would be a thing of the past. Where their suffering in this life would bring them great reward in the next. They were to do this to prevent themselves from becoming “weary and discouraged.” If we have any understanding at all of human nature, that’s always the problem when we spend too much time looking at ourselves.
Our Lord warned His disciples along this line while He was with them. In John 15:18-20, He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
But there was something else the writer wanted them to remember: a reason, at least, for their suffering, vs. 5-8. It’s a form of discipline. God understands what happens when we get too comfortable. We tend to forget our need of Him. He also understands that this world is in opposition to Him and if we get to following it, then we’re not following Him. So trouble comes to us in various forms to remind us of important things. And this trouble may have nothing to do with “persecution.” It may be sickness or financial difficulty. Whatever it is, actions, whether ours or someone else’s, have consequences, and it’s sometimes the innocent who pay the price. So it’s true, we may not “deserve” a lot of what happens to us, but sometimes it’s also true that a lot of the trouble that comes our way is simply the result of our own doings. David found this out the hard way after his “affair” with Bathsheba. His life was never the same after that. Whatever the source, trouble comes our way to remind us not to get too comfortable in what someone called “these tenements of clay.”
The writer uses the example of earthly fathers in his teaching, v. 9. In our day and time, this probably doesn’t mean as much, because “father” is almost a curse word, and it’s up to Mom to raise the kids – single moms and all that. “Dad” skates by either as a non-entity or a simpleton. And the idea of discipline that the writer uses is most certainly frowned on in our society: For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives, emphasis added. Any real idea of discipline, or making a child “mind,” is frowned on.
Let me tell you a story. I don’t think I’ve ever posted it on the blog. My grandmother was a teacher. When she was just starting out, she applied for a job at a particular school. This school had been through three teachers very quickly because of a certain student in the school. He simply drove them out by his actions. Now, the school board was honest with her and told her of the problem and asked if she were still interested. She asked if they would back her up. They would. So she took the school. Remember, this wasn’t a monstrous structure like what passes for “school” in our day, where kids are herded together like cattle. Sure enough, this kid began to make trouble. I don’t remember exactly how she told the story now, but she grabbed him by the arm and took a yardstick to him. When the student got home, and his parents found out what happened, they wore him out, too.
Fast forward about 25 years. Grandma and Grandpa are on a vacation trip through New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns. This was in 1946 or ’47. Out in the middle of nowhere – no interstate highways, no “rest areas” – the car began to overheat, so Grandpa pulled into a little service station to get some water for their ’39 Studebaker. He walked around to the back of the building – and fell over, dead. As it turned out, the assistant district attorney in this little town – out in the middle of nowhere – was this same fellow. He thanked Grandma for straightening him all those years before, because if she hadn’t, no telling where he would have wound up – certainly not on the right side of the law.
you can imagine what would happen if Grandma were a present-day teacher and tried that with a “troubled youth” in her class…!
We’ve gone so far away from any idea of raising kids to be respectful and obedient that we’ve brought about the mess we see them in today. Not all of them are troublesome, to be sure, there are still some who are raised right, but the majority of them, to varying degrees, live lives that wouldn’t have been tolerated in my youth, let alone in Grandma’s! She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and when folks came to visit her parents, all the kids were required to sit quietly on the sofa until the visitors were gone. “Children should be seen and not heard” is a dictum that’s gone the way of the dinosaur. They certainly weren’t allowed to scream and carry on in the restaurant or grocery story like we see two- and three-year-olds doing so today! These little monsters run the family, and their parents have no idea about what to do, and indeed, are powerless to do anything about it. I see these little ones around today and wonder what their parents are going to do when their kids get old enough to really do damage.
We see what’s going to happen with the rampages and shootings done by young people that are so in the news today. Liberals, who’ve rejected Scripture in every area of life and who are responsible for the chaos in our society, believe that “gun control” is the answer – the only answer. While this post is not a defense of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, it might serve as a rebuttal to this simplistic non-solution.
Let me tell you another story – one I may have used on the blog before. When I was a teenager – and not a model one by any means – the high school I went to in a large city out West was in a “tough” neighborhood. Years later, one of my friends characterized it as a “ghetto” (although I suppose that’s too harsh an assessment in this day of political correctness). Most of the times I walked to school, about a 45 minute trip (and no, it wasn’t uphill both ways). If it was bad weather, my Mom, who had to be at work at 7:00 AM, would take me to school, and I would be the very first one there – even before the lunchroom staff. In the basement of this “tough” school was a rifle range – with rifles and live ammo (locked up, of course). I qualified as a marksman on that range. But there was never – ever – any idea of trouble because of the presence of those guns. It just wasn’t thought of. You could buy rifles at the local dime store. I don’t remember ever hearing of a “drive-by shooting” or of a rampage like we hear so often about today, even when we lived in an area of town which now suffers those.
The trouble today isn’t the presence of guns, in spite of the rantings of liberals, but the abandonment of our youth to their own devices and the rejection of Scriptural principles for life and living. Perish the thought that we damage their “self-esteem”! But the problem is that they’ve got too much self-esteem.
God told Israel something about this. In Hosea 4:6, He told a rebellious and wicked Israel, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”
We don’t like this idea of God. We want a God who is all loving and soft, a kindly grandfather-type who smiles at the foibles and follies of His children. The God of the Old Testament is characterized by unbelievers as a monstrous bully, but even Hebrews, a few verses from where we are, describes Him to those who thumb their noses at Him: For our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.
Israel had been given clear and strict instruction about the raising of their children. These kids were to be grounded in the Scripture Israel had, which had a great deal to do with how God had delivered her from Egyptian slavery and how she was to live in light of that. She was warned about forgetting God. In Deuteronomy 8:11, Moses warned Israel about this, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you this day…, emphasis added. Israel hadn’t “forgotten” God in the sense that He had slipped their minds; they were very aware of His existence, they just didn’t pay any attention to what He said. As a consequence, they didn’t raise their children right, and their children went further astray even than they did – with all the consequences of that.
In the same sense, we have forgotten God in our day, and we see the consequences all around us.
But, the writer tells us, there is an “afterward.” By the grace of God, my wife and I raised four children to mature and productive adulthood. It wasn’t easy for my wife, though. She was able to be a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years, until the kids got a little older. I worked long hours and even when I was home, I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t a very attentive father. I still had some growing-up to do, too. But now, we’re able to rejoice in grandchildren and have watched four of them grow to the stage where they are getting ready to leave the nest, so to speak. It’s been a joy to watch them grow from infancy to where the boys are taller than we are. I kid our daughter that in a few years, she might be a grandmother herself and she tells me that she isn’t ready for that!
The point is, the troubles of life may be hard to go through. Compared to what our Lord suffered, though, they are nothing. One of the Reformers said that his sufferings were but chips and slivers compared to his Lord’s cross. And if I understand Scripture what we see today is nothing compared to what lies ahead, though it’s very difficult to see that sometimes.
The writer makes an interesting and challenging statement in the middle of his thought. After saying that chastening is simply God disciplining His children, he says, But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons, v.8.
That doesn’t mean anything today, but it was a big deal back then. And, spiritually speaking, it doesn’t seem to mean very much today, either. According to some, we’re all children of God, so there aren’t any illegitimate children. Others seem to have a very broad definition of the term, “children of God.” Our writer has his own definition: enduring chastening, or discipline. This seems counter-intuitive to our time, in which many think that trouble should be the farthest thing away from the Christian life. Health, wealth and all things good – these are the Christian life, not trouble.
It’s true in this country that we’ve enjoyed a long time of freedom in spiritual matters. This country was founded with respect for the Bible and Christian principles, regardless of what the revisionists tell us. Though it’s always been around in some form or another, it’s only within the last decade or so that opposition to the Bible and Christianity has really become public policy.
I don’t know what the future holds in the short term. I do know there’s coming a time when, in the words of Daniel 12:2, many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament.
Until then, consider Him who endured such hostility of sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged….