Hebrews 12:9

Monday, 15 April 2019

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? Hebrews 12:9

The word “Furthermore” is given to extend the thought of what has already been presented. The author has brought in the subject of being chastened by God, and this has been equated to the chastening of a human father. In both, the child is being treated as a son, not an illegitimate.

But more than that, when our human fathers corrected us, did we turn around and say, “You had no right to do that?” Unless the person is utterly depraved, such would not be the case. Instead, he would learn the intended lesson and pay respect to the parent. Otherwise, the correction will not only be repeated, but it will certainly be intensified. Only a dolt would not quickly learn this and submit to the rule and instruction of his father.

With that understanding, the author rhetorically asks, “Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?”

Here the word mallon is used. It is a common word used throughout the New Testament. Paul used it in Romans 5 four times. It involves a prioritization or ranking of matters in order to elevate what is better over what is simply good. It was good that our human fathers corrected us, but that was accomplished in the sphere of a family unit comprised of fallen beings who are prone to all kinds of error. Correction may have come to the wrong child. It may not have actually been needed over a matter, and yet it was given out. The correction may have been more, or less, than what was appropriate. It may have been carried out in anger. And so on.

However, in God, the correction is precisely handed out in a perfect manner according to the situation. There is no error in what occurs, and it is exactly what is needed for us to stop and consider our need for coming closer to Him, not further drawing away Him. The only fallible part of the equation will be our response to what occurs, not to how He has handled His part of the matter.

But if we are wise, we will consider that what happened between each of us and our earthy father should be even more precisely handled when the correction comes from our heavenly Father. His is the sphere of the Creator, the One who breathed life into man, who has ordained all things in perfection, and who sustains all things with perfect control. When we consider our lives, and the events which occur in them – as given to us by God – we should be all the more in “subjection to the Father of spirits.”

His sphere is as the One which handles all spirits with the eternal perspective in mind. As we are destined to an eternal walk in His presence, our submission to Him brings, as the author says, life. To “live” isn’t merely speaking of salvation. It is speaking of the here and now. Our lives are true lives when they are lived in accord with the will of the Father. God desires that we live out that true life now, and to allow it to be an anticipatory stepping stone to the life which lies yet ahead.

Life application: A father who properly disciplines his child is respected. Not only out of fear (at the time of punishment), but out of love and appreciation later. Anyone who remembers discipline, which was handed out for real mistakes, learned that it came because of love and a desire to direct to what is proper. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about discipline and it doesn’t shy away from it. Unlike modern day thinking, corporal punishment is recommended for children who misbehave –

“He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Proverbs 13:24


“Do not withhold correction from a child,
if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.” Proverbs 23:13, 14

Rather than being inappropriate, it is correct to discipline our children. The type of punishment needs to meet the level of misdeed. And when it does, respect – not fear – is the result. In addition to respect we gain a proper moral compass which will last us throughout our lives. Likewise, when the Lord disciplines us, it is for our growth. Rather than being upset and accusing God for our displeasure, we need to thank Him for the loving instruction He’s providing us. Remember these things and when trials or troubles come, thank Him for them. He is revealing His great love for you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Bible’s lessons on discipline! There have been times when we have not understood all the difficulties we have faced. And even now, when we face hardship help us to know that it is molding us into Your glorious image. Because of this, give us the patience and the heart to accept it as faithful children – obedient even as our Lord Jesus was. Amen.

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