“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments…” (Leviticus 26:12-14).
How many of us enjoyed being corrected by our parents growing up? Although I can now look back on my life and see how their chastisement of me was for my good, at the time when I received their guidance, in the form of a paddle or by being placed on restriction, I did not appreciate what they did.
Do we appreciate God’s correction? We often praise God’s grace, mercy, and love, but what about His correction? The Bible clearly teaches that God corrects us: “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” (Hebrews 12:7-11).
As Moses continues to receive God’s instructions following the erection of the tabernacle of meeting, God describes the blessings He will shower upon Israel if they walk within the confines of His commandments (Leviticus 26:3-13). However, in the same context, God also details His chastening of them if they choose to not follow His laws (Leviticus 26:14-39). As can be seen from the amount of verses warning of God’s chastening versus the amount of verses speaking of God’s blessing, God wanted Israel to fear God and keep His commandments. Yet, if Israel disobeyed God, God would forgive them once they confessed their sins, repented, and returned to Him (Leviticus 26:40-45).
Why did God go to such lengths to warn Israel of the potential chastening they would receive if they disobeyed Him? God realized the difficulty the Israelites would have in remaining faithful to Him while living in a world where they were constantly surrounded by sin. He did not want His people to return to the bondage of sin. He would do all that was in His power, including chastening His people, to prevent this from happening.
When we read a chapter like Leviticus 26, we can choose to think how harsh God is to His people because He chastens them for their sins. However, reacting in this manner is the way a child reacts to his or her parents who through chastening are trying to give them loving guidance. It is because of God’s great love for His people that He chastens them. The wise man Solomon wrote an inspired age-old truth: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
As a Christian, I am not perfect. Sometimes I take my eye off God. At times, I am able to recognize the error of my ways and repent of it. At other times, God needs to chasten me so I will “come to my senses” and recognize the error of my ways and repent. Part of my maturing as a Christian is to embrace the fact that God loves me enough to chasten me so that I will continue to “walk uprightly” and not fall back under the bondage of sin. Praise God that He loves me enough to chasten me!
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).