What is the Role of God's Punishment in "Love and Restoration"?

Tomorrow's sermon message is on "Love and Restoration." This message has me thinking about the role of punishment in love and restoration.

God's punishment of Israel and the destruction of whole peoples in the Old Testament is hard to understand. But Israel had become so utterly wicked--so much more wicked than we probably ever imagine. Besides idolatry, adultery, mistreatment of the poor, corruption, and more, did you know that Israel began sacrificing her own children in the temple of the Lord?

Hosea 13:2 says, "It is said of these people, 
'They offer human sacrifice 
and kiss the calf-idols.'"

Think of this. If God had not punished Israel through the exile, and sought to bring about her repentance, how could she possibly be a light to the nations? And for her to continue in this path was pure evil and destructive.

Is it truly love to not discipline a child? To allow them to continue on a destructive path? God disciplined Israel out of his love, and he disciplines us out of his love as well. Though this is painful, it is for our ultimate good--and for our ultimate restoration.

Hebrew 12:4-11 says:

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Thoughts?

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Comment by James Nored on December 15, 2013 at 9:58pm

Thanks, Don. As the writer of Hebrews says, no discipline is fun, but it results in something that is ultimately good--and that is a good thing.

Comment by Don Partain on December 14, 2013 at 9:16pm

James, I completely agree with you that at least much of the punishment God deals out today is disciplinary in nature--the OT certainly attests to this.  Discipline received with humility before God turns us to God.  However, future punishment (Gk., kolazo) is the meting out of justice--divine retribution--which is not corrective at all (Matt.25:46;  2 Pet.2:9).   In fact, I Cor.11:32 contains both kinds of punishment:  "But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world."

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