Chastening the sons:
In Psalms we read this verse” The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death” ( Psalms 118:18), and the word chastening here means teaching and guidance towards the right way. Chastening is not a punishment, especially in the way that God the Father deals with us, Saint Paul the apostle says” But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” ( 1Corinthians 11:32). He also says” “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 ” ( Hebrews 12:4-8).
We, the beloved of the Lord, are in great need, and especially these days, to subject to the ordinances of the Lord, as we have gotten off His Fatherhood. Despite our belief in God and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Meyroun and having Christ, we have gradually slipped away. In this we take Jacob as an example to see how the Lord lived Jacob since his formation in the womb” And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” ( Romans 9:10-13), ” When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son” ( Hosea 11:1). Thus whoever believes in the Lord and is baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, comes out of the Church’s womb loved and chosen, listening by his new spiritual ear to the voice saying” This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” ( Matthew 3:17).
But… Jacob slipped off God’s Fatherhood and followed his brother Esau, and through deceit stole his ﬁrst born blessings by lying and cheating, depending on his own smartness cunningness. But God the compassionate, disciplining father did not leave him to his falls but began to chasten him, bringing him back to become the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, not only this but he became on of the great patriarchs, as we always say in our church about the faithful and devout transgressors, that they are in the arms of our holy fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This distancing from God costed him a twenty years chase from his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him. And costed him fourteen years in the service of his uncle Laban who deceived him and gave him Leah instead of Rachel and changed his wage ten times, listen to him saying to his uncle Laban, when he tried to harm him, after Jacob ﬂed from him with everyone and everything he had” Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your ﬂock, and you have changed my wages ten times” ( Genesis 31:41). And here we stop at the work of God and His intervention during chastening time to deliver us from death, Listen to the words of Laban to Jacob after he ran away” Why did you ﬂee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp? And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in so doing. It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad” ( Genesis 31:27-29). How tender is God on His children, He truly discipline us, but never deliver us to death. Thus we realistically see Jacob as a example of our situation these days, for even though we are the chosen and beloved children of God, yet we are still dodging and straying from the way that God gave us in His beloved So. Jesus Christ. We go after false gods, money, lusts, ourselves and dominions, materialism not faith, and loving the world without the love of God. Isn’t that what the sons of Jacob ( the sons of Israel ) did in the wilderness after the Lord brought them out of the bondage of pharaoh with a strong Hand and a ﬁne Arm?! Extending their chastening, changing its diversity and intensity.
We must know that we are responsible for the degree of discipline and the length or shortness of its duration. When the children of Israel led by Moses came out of Egypt, they could have reached the promised land within a month, but because of their disbelief and rebellion against God and Moses, and running behind the lust of food and their worship of the golden calf and unclean idols, all of this and other things that distanced them from God’s commandments, made them lost for forty years in the wilderness. Therefore, Saint Paul warns us” Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness” ( Hebrews 3:7-8). It’s an invitation to me and everyone that reads and listens so we can repent now and not tomorrow.
Dear reader, our Christ, the living and redeeming God, He is today as He was yesterday and forever, His love for us is boundless because we are His children, and therefore He came not to judge the world but to save the world. And whoever receives Him will ﬁnd salvation destined for him in the Person of the Savior. But if we left the right path that leads to eternal life, He as a father, master and teacher, has to chasten us. If we repent, we will ﬁnd Him embracing us with His forgiveness, but if we stiffen our necks, the chastening with intensify and His besieging intensiﬁes until we wake up and go back. This is what happened to the prodigal son who chose the wrong path, and his father left him to the distress of destitution and hunger, to return, and when he did, he found his fatherly arms opened to him, because he is a son, redeeming all the glory and the wealth of his father to himself in full.
Another return to Jacob and his descendants, even though the Lord came to them as His own, they rejected Him and did not accept Him but killed Him on the cross, and with the journey of discipline, Israel has refused until now, till the fulﬁllment of their faith in Christ, by chastening not death, because the Lord does not want the death of a sinner but to return and live, and this mystery is revealed by the apostle Paul through the Spirit saying” For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own [a]opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” ( Romans 11:25-26).
Beloved of the Lord, in Jacob Israel we have a parable, to know that we are in the Hands of the compassionate Lord, chastened for salvation not death: The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.