Summary: 1) God’s Discipline is Parental 2) God’s Discipline is Perfect 3) God’s Discipline is Profitable
When you look for Father’s Day cards you tend to see two general types. There are the sailboat and classic card variety with some general thanks to dad. Then, there are the humorous type that usually poke fun at his lack of fit it ability and the like. The one quality you never seem to see, is the one thanking dad for his discipline. Most likely it is because disciple is such a despised quality today and it is so hard to both do and receive.
The background to the audience of Hebrews helps us understand the nature of disciple and the picture of fatherhood.
Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (ESV)
All the Jews to whom the book of Hebrews was written were undergoing persecution because of their break with Judaism. It was coming from their Jewish friends and relatives, who resented their turning their backs on the religious customs and traditions in which they had been born and raised.
The affliction had largely been in the form of social and economic pressure, though some of them had been imprisoned (10:34). We can imagine the arguments they heard for rejecting the new faith. “Look at what you have gotten yourselves into. You have become Christians and all you have had are problems, criticism, hardship, and suffering. You have lost your friends, your families, your synagogues, your traditions, your heritage—everything.”
Those who had made mere professions of faith were, under this pressure, in danger of reverting to Judaism, of apostatizing. The true believers were in danger of having their faith seriously weakened by adopting again the rituals and ceremonies of the Old Covenant (MacArthur, J. (1996, c1983). Hebrews. Includes index. (383). Chicago: Moody Press.)
Some believers perhaps were wondering why, if their God was a God of power and of peace, they were suffering so much. “If God is such a loving Father, why is this all happening”.
In looking at Hebrews 12: 5-11, we see the answer to this and in this answer we see the pattern of the Divine Father and a picture of good earthly fatherhood. First, we see that:
1) God’s Discipline is Parental: Hebrews 12:5-8
Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
In understanding God as father and the earthy lesson, I am going to spend just about all the time on this first point to work out the picture and discuss the implications.
Quote: The problem stems, as one commentator remarked: “the indisputable axiom, we cannot be profoundly influenced (or encouraged) by that which we do not know. The comfort and strength of God’s Word will avail us not at all if we do not know it” (Hughes, R. K. (1993). Hebrews : An anchor for the soul. Preaching the Word (20169). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.)
• In beginning this passage the challenge have you forgotten the exhortation is bringing us to the source of understanding of proper fatherhood: the word of God. This is the source to see and understand the actions of our Heavenly Father and the instructions to earthy fathers.
• Here the writer recalls and expounds Proverbs 3:11, 12. Trials and sufferings in the Christian’s life come from God who uses them to educate and discipline believers by such experiences. Such dealings are evidence of God’s love for His own children (MacArthur, J. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible : New American Standard Bible. (Heb 12:4-11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
• It is important that this is directed towards “sons”. In the context of when this was written, it was “sons” who received inheritance rights. We will see that this designation is very important to show the significance of men and women to have special status and privileges in the family of God. The Greek word for “son” is huios, and it means “full-grown son.” Don’t think that just because we are going to look at God and man as Father, that if you are not one, you can tune out. This relates to everyone, even those who are literally “full-grown” in seeing the need for discipline.( McGee, J. V. (1997, c1981). Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (5:602). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)
• The word translated “discipline,” paidiea, has wider meaning than “chastening” or “punishment.” It also means the training up of a child, a teaching, preparation for life, an art or science, or an instruction. (cf. Acts 22:3; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 2:12). The main emphasis is upon preparation for life. Chastening or punishment is only a small part of preparation.
• This should not be too hard to relate. For example, in scholarly circles we ask the question “What is your discipline?” We are not asking, “What is your punishment?” Rather, we want to know, “What field of study or what art are you studying?” The emphasis is upon the learning of a skill, the preparation for a given profession. The same word is used in athletics. Discipline is that process by which we are taught and by which we learn.( Evans, L. H., Jr, & Ogilvie, L. J. (1985). Vol. 33: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 33 : Hebrews. Formerly The Communicator’s Commentary. The Preacher’s Commentary series (221). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.)