Doctrine of Chastening
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

In our last lesson, we presented to you what we referred to as the background of the book of Ruth, a background study. In the midst of that discussion, we pointed out to you that there were three approaches that might be taken to the study of the book of Ruth. Those approaches we want to review for you in the light of the fact that we hope you will all be reading ahead in the book and absorbing as much as you possibly can. One approach is the approach of analogy, which means that we take spiritual lessons from the historical events in the book and make those applications to our individual lives which are consistent to the rest of the Word of God. There is the approach of soteriology, which we pointed out to you was the doctrine of redemption, and we will be studying the book of Ruth from that standpoint as it does reveal the very important doctrine of redemption. Then the approach of eschatology is the doctrine of last things, and before we are through with our study we will be approaching the book of Ruth from the standpoint of eschatology, finding out what God's plan and purpose is for the nation of Israel in the last days as it is revealed in the book of Ruth.

This threefold approach to the study should indicate to you that the mere reading of the book of Ruth is not sufficient to learn all the truths that are in it. We have suggested to you that we think it would be very wise, as we study the book of Ruth, to read it repeatedly during this course of time. It takes approximately twenty minutes to read the book of Ruth, and one could afford to spend that time every day in reading it. We have suggested to you that the best way to really study any book is to let the book get hold of you as you get hold of the book. There is only one way that any book can get hold of you and that is repeated meditation within the book. Naturally some of the books are of such length that they do not lend themselves to such a practice, but the book of Ruth certainly would.

We are going to approach the study of the book of Ruth from the standpoint of analogy. We are going to consider the analogies presented to us in chapter 1. It might be more accurate for me to say we are going to begin, because in chapter 1 we are going to find lessons related to chastening and we are going to find as well lessons related to decisions. There are two separate subjects involved and that being true, we would naturally have to conserve our remarks in order to get in even the discussion of the first–lessons that are related to chastening.

I think it would be wise if we read together the first chapter of the book of Ruth so that we will have all of the subject matter in hand as we begin to point out to you the spiritual applications which are found within the chapter.

Ruth 1

1Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
3And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
4And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
6Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.
7Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.
8And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
9The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
10And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
11And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
13Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
14And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
15And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
19So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

As we prepare to study the chapter from the standpoint of analogy, I would like to call to your attention the first statement in verse 1. In this first statement, we find the first lesson we need to know–the record of the fact that God chastens His people. If you will notice in that first statement you read: “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.” This is the record of the principle of chastening as far as Ruth and her family were concerned. I think it would be wise for us to recognize that when God dealt with the nation of Israel, He always used four methods of chastening: war, famine, pestilence, and earthquake. He used famine more often than He did any one of the other means of chastening.

We might digress to call to your attention that the Lord Jesus Christ said that when we come to the end of the age and this world is set for the ultimate judgment which will climax in the Tribulation in the Battle of Armageddon, when you see these four things all happening at the same time, when you see these four things happening within the circumference of related time, then you will know that the end of the age is near and judgment is about to fall. I think it is a significant thing that the four things that God would use for Israel's chastening would be gathered together as one climactic judgment for the generations that will be living at the end of the age.

You may wonder why we say that these are the four methods which are used in relation to God's chastening for Israel, and so we would suggest that you read Deuteronomy, chapter 28. We are not going to take the time to read it because time will not permit, but you will find the reason for saying what we have said in that particular chapter.

The Principle of Chastening

We might remind you, because we are making application of truth, that as God promised chastening for the disobedience of Israel, so God promises chastening for the disobedient child of God today. Anyone who is a member of the Body of Christ and who is disobedient can expect the chastening hand of God to fall upon them. Since the doctrine of chastening is not as familiar to everyone as it might be related to personal experience, I am going to suggest that you turn with me to I Corinthians, chapter 11, and notice the verses which declare the principle of chastening in the believer's life for today. You will recognize that I Corinthians, chapter 11, is dealing with disorders at the Lord's table, and that gave rise to the emphasis upon the principle of chastening. We are interested only in that principle, so we call your attention to verse 30:

I Corinthians 11

30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

We might notice, backward to frontward, the truth which is presented in these three verses. Notice the last statement of verse 32: “that we should not be condemned with the world.” Every man without the Lord Jesus Christ will be condemned. There is no question about that. Now, believers who have received the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be condemned. If they were condemned, then it would be making the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ an unholy thing and it would be making a liar out of God. God cannot countenance disobedience. He cannot countenance sin; therefore, He has brought to our attention the doctrine of chastening, saying that if we do not judge ourselves, in verse 31, then we leave Him no alternative but to judge us because He cannot condemn us to an eternal Hell.

When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, so the principle of chastening is established. This is only one side of the coin, however, for chastening is not always related to disobedience. So many times it is.

Chastening is Inevitable

I think it would be wise for us to turn to the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, and recognize the other side of the coin in relation to the subject of chastening. You will want to keep a marker here in Hebrews, chapter 12, because we will be making another reference or two to it and you can turn to that passage more rapidly if you have it marked. I ask you to turn there at the moment and notice with me verse 6, where you read:

Hebrews 12

6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

This verse of Scripture declares that if you are a child of God, it is impossible for you to escape the chastening hand of God. As a matter of fact, if you look down at verse 8, you are reminded that if the chastening hand of God does not rest upon you in some form at some time during your Christian experience, then you are illegitimate children of God. You have no real claim upon Him. Notice in verse 8, we read:

Hebrews 12

8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Set down in your thinking today in relation to this very important doctrine of chastening that the individual who is the son of God can expect it. Sometimes when I make a statement like that, I have individuals come to me and say something like this: “I am a bit troubled. You say that every child of God will endure chastening, every child of God will experience it. I don't know that I have ever experienced the chastening hand of God and it makes me wonder if I am even a Christian. It makes me wonder if I have ever been born again.” I say to you, Beloved, on the authority of the Word of God, if you are God's child, you either have experienced chastening or you will experience it. Oftentimes you may not recognize chastening for what it is. You may attribute to a bad decision what is really a chastening of God. You may attribute an unwise action to what is really the chastening hand of God. If you will keep in mind also what I have suggested to you, then you will remember that all chastening need not be in the form of punishment.

Go back with me to the book of Ruth, recognizing the first principle, a record of chastening. God chastens all of His children. Verse 1:

Ruth 1

1Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land…

We pointed out to you in our last lesson that this was probably during the days of Eglon who was king of the Midianites and who had come in and laid waste the land and made the famine a necessity.

We are interested at the moment at what we might call “the reaction to the chastening hand of God.” That thought is brought to our attention in the later part of the first verse, where you read:

Ruth 1

1…And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

The famine that is referred to here in this verse was sent to the whole nation of Israel. There is no question about that. It was not necessarily a personal one for Elimelech and his family save as they were related to the nation of Israel, and yet the reaction that Elimelech manifested in relation to the famine is typical of the reaction of many people to the chastening hand of God in their lives. You will notice that Elimelech's journey into Moab was directly related to the famine in the land. So we can say without over-amplification that Elimelech's reaction to the famine in the land was his journey into Moab.

Reaction to Chastening

Now the reactions to chastening, generally speaking, reactions to chastening in our day in this age of grace according to Hebrews, chapter 12, if you will go back there, number six. Three of the six represent what we might call a positive reaction and three of the six represent what we might call a negative reaction to the chastening hand of God. Notice in verse 5 of Hebrews, chapter 12, that the Spirit of God urges those who are resting under the chastening hand:

Hebrews 12

5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

The first thing that we would call to your attention is expressed in the words, “forget not the exhortation.” So we say that the first thing in a negative fashion that people may do when the chastening hand of God rests upon them is to forget the Word of God. We are going to notice shortly how Elimelech and his family did that very thing. They forgot the Word of God expressly stated. Of course, we will be able to see, I trust, how we do sometimes forget the Word in times of chastening.

Danger In Disregarding Chastening

Then you will notice also in verse 5 that there is another possible attitude. It is expressed in the words, “despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.” “Despise” comes from the Greek word oligoreo , and it could be translated by our English word “disregard.” That is, “just disregard the chastening of the Lord. Pay no attention to it at all.”

I have said to you at other times that nothing unforeseen happens in my life, nothing unplanned or unexpected, particularly if it seems to be a testing thing or an unfortunate thing, without my taking time to slip away by myself and ask God what it is He wants me to learn, what it is He may be teaching me. I ask Him, “Why?” I do not ask Him, in the sense of rebellion, “Why did this happen to me?”. I ask Him in the sense that the Apostle Paul said, “That I may apprehend that for which also I have been apprehended in Christ Jesus.” Beloved, don't ever disregard the chastening hand of the Lord in your life.

The Danger of Discouragement

There is another suggestion and that also is found in Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 5, and that is that individuals sometimes faint under the chastening hand of God. A better word for the word “faint” to me would be the word “discourage.” Don't be discouraged when the chastening hand of God rests upon you. Sometimes folk are discouraged to the point of despair and they fall by the wayside. They feel that God has treated them so sorely that there is no point in their going on with God at all.

Still in Hebrews, chapter 12, we call to your attention the positive reaction to the chastening hand of God, suggesting to you that you notice in verse 7:

Hebrews 12

7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

“Endure” does not mean that we grit our teeth and whistle a little tune while we wait for the unpleasantness to be over with. Rather, we keep in mind that this word “endure” comes from the Greek word hupomeno , which means literally “to remain under.” We say, “If this is God's will for us, then this is God's will for us.” We do not struggle. We do not kick against the pricks. We do not say that we are not going to take what is coming to us. This does not mean that we do not, as I have already suggested to you, make every effort to know the reason and the purpose, but it does mean we do not struggle against the chastening hand of God.

Those of you who are parents know that sometimes when you have had the responsibility of administering corporal punishment for your children that you have found it rather difficult. At times they would run from you. Of course, you make a very grievous mistake if you run after them, but some parents do because that is the only way that they can catch them to administer the punishment that is necessary. You know as well that sometimes, even though they may not run from you as you attempt to paddle them or spank them or whatever the word might be, they struggle against the spanking. Then sometimes you have to literally, bodily, physically hold them down to administer the punishment that is their due. Well, some of God's children are that way. They try to run away from the chastening hand of God. They struggle against the chastening hand of God instead of remaining quietly under it. When such is the case, much unpleasantness arises.

Submission to the Will of God

There is another way that you might be able to react in a positive fashion to the chastening hand of God, and that is described by the word “subjection.” Notice Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 9:

Hebrews 12

9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

This word “subjection” is the word that is translated “submit” and “subject” elsewhere in the Scriptures. “Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands. Let us submit ourselves one to another.” It is the translation of this one Hebrew word hupotasso , which simply means “to take one's place.” The military term says, “You know what your place is. Get in line. Don't be out of step.” We recognize that since chastening is part of God's plan for His children, when chastening comes we subject ourselves to the chastening hand of God, taking our place as obedient children, saying as Job did, “The Lord giveth; the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There is a third suggestion that I would call to your attention which is a necessary reaction to the chastening hand of God. Will you look at verse 11, please:

Hebrews 12

11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Notice the word “exercise” as I suggest to you that it comes from the Greek word gumnazo , which simply means “to train.” Another suggestion is that the chastening hand of the Lord, though it is grievous as the chastening is being applied or administered, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them who accept chastening as training from God. If you will look upon the chastening hand of God as His training for you, if you will look upon any experience related to chastening as being associated with God's school of experience for all of His children, then you will be profiting by the chastening and you will be properly trained.

Elimelech's Reaction to Chastening

I would like for you to notice with me now what I have already hinted at in our discussion that we might learn the spiritual lessons that God would have us to learn by calling to your attention Elimelech's reaction to chastening. I wonder in the light of what I have said to you at this point if you could tell me what Elimelech's reaction to the chastening hand of God actually was? I don't believe you could put it all in one word, so let me suggest to you that he forgot the Word of God. Oh, yes, basically He ran away, but the reason he ran away is that he forgot the Word of God.

Turn with me, please, to Psalm 37, as I suggest to you that this is a portion of the Word that Elimelech could have known in principle whether he knew the actual words or not, because the portion in Psalm 37 is David's rendition of the promise that God gave in the book of Deuteronomy. Notice Psalm 37, verse 3:

Psalms 37

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

The Psalm said to David's generation what David said to his. What I would like to remind our generation of today is that if the nation of Israel had remained in the land of promise, the place where God put them, no matter how many famines came and no matter how much famine came, God would take care of them. He would feed them because they were in the center of God's will. We would remind you today that if you, in the midst of God's chastening in your particular life, would call to mind that God, though His hand falls heavily upon you, will not leave you bereft of health. He never completely destroys. You can stand the chastening hand of God, but all too often people forget the Word as did Elimelech. We might also say that Naomi did because you will recall that when Naomi was talking to her daughters-in-law about going back to Bethlehemjudah, she said to them, “There is no point in your going back. There is no hope for you there. There is no future for you there. I have absolutely nothing to offer you.” When she made that statement, she was indicating that she was forgetting two very plain promises in the Word of God. One of them is related to the year of Jubilee when every inheritance that had been temporarily taken away from any child of Israel was restored in total to them. She could have said to them, “At the Feast of Jubilee you will have the property that my sons had.” Then she forgot that word about which the entire book of Ruth is built, the law of the kinsman redeemer. “Though there is no husband for you in my womb,” she could have said, “we do have kinfolk back in the land, and it will be their responsibility to provide for you an inheritance and a family.” They forgot the Word.

I would encourage you, if God's chastening hand should fall upon you or if it is upon you at the moment, that you not forget God's Word. The promises are still true and if you do remember them, you will not fall into the error into which Elimelech fell for Elimelech became discouraged. When he went off to the land of Moab, he went off rejoicing. We told you that “Elimelech” means “my God is King,” but he died in the land of disobedience, and there is every evidence to indicate in the lives of his sons that he was thoroughly discouraged. He was at the fainting place in relation to chastening.

Failure to Submit to God's Will

Two things already you know are related to Elimelech's reaction. He failed to remember God's Word, and he became discourged, but perhaps the basic thing is needed for our attention at the moment for it in all probability gave rise to all of the other things: He failed to submit. You see, the famine came in the land of Bethlehemjudah. He knew the Word of God. When that famine came, he should have submitted. He should have said, “This is God's hand upon us. Let us submit to it.” Now does this mean that you just sit and weather the storm and hope things will be better and do nothing about it? No, you call to mind the principle that is stated in II Chronicles, chapter 7, verse 14:

II Chronicles 7

14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

He speaks, of course, of doing away with the famine and bringing in the harvest. So you see, Elimelech could have stayed in the land and prayed that God would lift his chastening hand as they learned whatever they needed to learn at that particular time.

We suggest to you then that you and I must be careful that we do not fall into the error of Elimelech by forgetting God's Word, by becoming discouraged, and by failing to submit. We emphasize again the last thing, because this failure on the part of Elimelech constituted open rebellion against God. When there is rebellion against God, then God has to take something away.

You remember we read in I Corinthians, chapter 11, that if we judge ourselves we shall not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord still further. So the chastening of the Lord in the life of Elimelech became even more serious.

As I said a little bit earlier, we don't recognize the chastening hand of God because we don't always know exactly what form it is going to take. Let me suggest to you that one form it takes when the heart is rebellious is additional sin, continuing our journey out of fellowship with God. The heart becomes harder, the will more stubborn, and the individuals concerned find themselves adding one sin after another to the record that must be confessed.

The Result of Rebellion

We would say to you that the first result of Elimelech's rebellion was further disobeience. If you will look at verse 4 of Ruth, chapter 1, you will see these words:

Ruth 1

4And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

What was the further rebellion? The taking of Moabite wives. When you have time, read Deuteronomy, chapter 7, verse 3, and compare it with Ezra, chapter 9, verses 1 and 2. In Deuteronomy, chapter 7, verse 3, we are told that the Israelites must not marry anyone outside of the nation of Israel, and there is a list of nations from whom they shall not take wives. The Moabites are not among them; but in Ezra, chapter 9, you will find Nehemiah emphasizing this same passage of Scripture and adding the Moabites to the nation's indicating that God had them in mind originally. Their disobedience of the Word of God represented one step further out of the circumference of God's will for them.

We say to you, Beloved, if you do not respond to God's chastening, if you rebel against God's chastening, God lets you have your way, so to speak, and you will find yourself in open disobedience to Him to a greater extent.

Another result against this rebellion against chastening was death. For you will recognize here in the book of Ruth, verse 5, the first statement:

Ruth 1

5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

And up in verse 3, Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died. The result of rebellion against chastening is death. In I Corinthians, chapter 11, you will recall the apostle said because of attitudes toward chastening some are weak, some are sickly, and some die.

The Sin Unto Death

I shouldn't have to say this, but I do want to emphasize that no one should jump to conclusions and assume that the death of every believer is related to rebellion against the will of God. Please fix that in your minds. Death comes as a blessed relief in the mercy of God as part of His plan while we await the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we say to you that if individuals who are believers insist on rebelling against God, God finally takes them home to be with Himself, refusing to leave them upon the earth as a poor testimony for His glory. That's the reason John says in his epistle, “There is a sin unto death. I do not say that you shall pray for it.” He preceded that by the statement that if there are sick among you, pray for them, but if one has committed that sin unto death, the last proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, then there is no need to pray because God's chastening hand is certainly going to rest upon the individual concerned in death.

Rebellion Brings Destitution

There is another result of this rebellion. I have used the word “destitution” to describe it, and it seems to me to describe the condition of Naomi. In verse 3, you read:

Ruth 1

3And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

She was left with two boys. Then down in verse 5:

Ruth 1

5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

Destitution–this woman was left alone. Now the destitution which she faced is described in even more vivid language, I think, in the latter part of the chapter. If you will look over there in verse 19:

Ruth 1

19So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

This word “move” comes from the Hebrew word hoom . A better word word be “gossip.” The verb in question is feminine, which indicates that it was the women who were doing the gossiping. When they saw Naomi come through the city, they said, “Is this Naomi?”, and they ran about to tell their neighbors, “Look there comes Naomi!.” Every indication of the text indicates that they were amazed at the condition that she was in. She had gone out victoriously. She had come back destitute. Her own testimony gives evidence of that in verse 20:

Ruth 1

20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

A full description of her destitution probably could be explained in the words, “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me back.” This is what results, Beloved, when you rebel against the chastening hand of God.

Rebellion's Effect On Others

I would like to suggest one other word that describes this rebellion against the chastening hand of God, and I have used the word “detriment” to describe that. You see, their reaction to the chastening hand of God affected not only them, but it affected all of those who had come in contact with them. That is what is the serious thing about it. You and I might say, if we were the only ones affected by what we do, “It's my business. If I want to take the licks, what business is it of yours? If I want to be rebellious and do what I want to do and take whatever God brings my way, then mind your own business. I have a right to do it.” Sometimes children talk that way to their parents when their parents remonstrate with them about their walk in the flesh instead of the walk in the Spirit. They say in so many words, “It's my business. I can do what I want to do.” The sad thing is that it isn't your business alone, for others are affected. That certainly is brought to our attention in verse 13 of chapter 1 of Ruth, where you read:

Ruth 1

13Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

This, you will recall, is what Naomi was saying to her daughers-in-law when they wanted to go to Bethlehemjudah with her. “There is no point in your going. I have no husbands for you, and I have no way of getting any husbands for you.” Now notice the last part of verse 11:

Ruth 1

13…for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

To paraphrase the translation, I think, makes it even clearer when she said, “How I grieve for you that the Lord has punished me in a way that injures you.” Beloved, this is exactly what happened. The Lord did punish Naomi and Elimelech in a way that injured those who were near to them.

I would plead to you if you sense the chastening hand of God upon you and you are wondering what reaction you ought to have, don't rebel against God's chastening hand because not only will you be affected, but those who are near and dear to you will be affected as well.

The Recognition of Chastening

I want to finish this discussion by emphasizing the high points of what else I would bring to your attention in addition to what we have said about chastening. There must be in every life the recognition of that chastening. There must be the time in your life when you recognize that it hasn't been a series of misfortunes, it hasn't been a series of unwise decisions that has brought you to the unhappy place that you are. There must be the recognition that the condition in which you are is due to the chastening hand of God. The very recognition that it is God that is chastening will include repentance. It did for Naomi. Read when you have time verses 6 and 7 of chapter 1 of Ruth. You will realize that she recognized the hand of God. She repented of her sin of running away from God, and she made up her mind that she was going back, come what may, no matter what the cost would be. Then when you have time, reread the verses that we read just a few moments ago concerning the emptiness in which she returned and recognize then as a testimony she was recognizing God as the one who had chastened her.

Most commentators feel that what Naomi said in verses 20 and 21 was an expression of bitterness against God, that she was blaming God for what had happened to her, but I don't believe this is true. I believe that she was testifying to the fact that God had testified against her, that the Almighty had afflicted her and she knew that she was responsible for what had gone on. Repenting, she had returned home.

Relief From Chastening

Let me suggest to you that there is relief from chastening. You remember in Hebrews, chapter 12, we read:

Hebrews 12

11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Naomi did give a testimony. She said, “The Lord hath brought me back empty.” The thing that I want you to keep in mind is the Lord did bring her back, and that is a wonderful thing to remember. It should be an encouraging thing to all of you who may recognize that some of your loved ones are under the chastening hand of God.

I want you to notice as you glance at the last verse that God brought her back at the beginning of the barley harvest. The barley harvest was at the beginning of the Feast of the Firstfruits, which is an Old Testament picture of the New Testament story of the Resurrection. He brought her back to walk in newness of life. This, Beloved, I will close with. God's hand may rest upon us in chastening, but when the chastening hand is lifted, we can walk in newness of life, as we are going to see that Naomi and her daughters-in-law did.


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