The Instruction of the Lord
November 20, 2016
All right, so let’s all take our Bibles please, and let’s open to Hebrews chapter 12. It says verse five, but let’s start in verse four. The title of our message this morning is the instruction of the Lord.
So, he’s writing to these Hebrews to really challenge them to arise in their faith, and he’s writing to us, and he used the phrase in last week’s verses that really captures God’s heart in this where he says, “Run the race that is et before you.” But then he adds this phrase, “Run the race with endurance.” And that really suggests that when you’re in a long-distance race it’s grueling, it’s difficult, there are obstacles, there are ups and downs. It’s difficult to do, and in many ways the analogy is for us. We have a long-distance race in this life. Run this race with endurance. There are many troubles. There’s ups and downs. There’s obstacles, there’s challenges. Run with endurance in spite of the troubles. He’s writing to them because they are being pressured, even persecuted, getting some really pretty great heat for them to go back to the ways of the old testament.
Back to the days of Moses, and he says, “listen, instead of giving into this pressure, and these troubles, and this persecution you need to press on. You need to grow stronger. You need to endure.” And in fact, in chapter 10 he says, “You have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive the blessing that was promised.” There is a promise of great blessing if you would endure, if you would run this race that’s set before you, and then in chapter 11. I love these verses about Moses because Moses becomes a really intriguing, and interesting example here. And the verses in chapter 11 are like this. He said – now Moses made a choice. He chose to endure the ill treatment with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. And he went on to explain. He considered the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than all of the treasures of Egypt because he was looking to the reward. Now, this is interesting.
Great analogy for us because Moses had everything men in the world could possibly want, and he was raised in privilege. He was raised, if you remember the story, as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter was actually raised in Pharaoh’s house. Therefore, he had privilege, he had position, he had authority, he had access to wealth. All the accoutrements that come with wealth. No doubt, he could have had as many wives as he wanted, but all of these things are tied to the world. All of these things are connected to worldly things. His sights were higher than that. He had his view toward eternity. He was looking to the reward, and therefore he was willing to endure the ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy all the treasures of Egypt, and the passing pleasure of sin.
I. The Lord Instructs Those He Loves
It’s a great point, and then in chapter 12 he connects that enduring the trouble to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In other words, God uses difficulties for our instruction. It strengthens faith when we look to him in the midst of the storm, but he adds a warning. If they shrink back in their faith. If they give in to those pressures, and persecutions, and go backward in their faith. They will be sure that they will receive the correction. The discipline of the Lord for those whom the Lord loves, he disciplines. And in the same way, God is our Father. He brings discipline, he corrects our way. It’s for our instruction though. It’s to strengthen our faith, it’s for our good. When you think of the topic for discipline of the Lord. No one raises their hand, volunteers for it. Pick me, pick me, choose me. I could use some discipline. Really, I could. Pick me Lord. No one does that, or no one says, “Oh, the pasture is speaking about the discipline of the Lord today. Call Aunt Martha, we got to bring her to church. We want to make sure that she hears about this.” No one says that because we don’t recognize the significance. It is very important to how we run this race. He corrects the course so that we run the race set before us to the victory that he has for us.
Let’s read it beginning in chapter 12 verse 4. “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” He’s referring here not to their sin, but to the sin of those oppressed. “You have forgotten the exaltation, which is addressed to you as sons. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him. For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you endure.” God deals with you as with sons. For what son is that or whom his Father does not discipline, but if you are without discipline, of which you all become particulars, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers who discipline us, and we respected them for it. Shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. Now, all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet, - but get this phrase here. “To those who have been trained by it, afterward, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” See, that phrase right there captures the theme those who have been trained by it. In other words, the Lord instructs those he loves. He’s talking about the discipline. Now, the root of the word discipline in Greek is the same root from which we get the word disciple. A person who is a disciple is growing. He’s under his Master’s teaching. He receives from his Master’s word, and so a person who is being disciplined is receiving instruction, or correction like a father brings correction for the purpose of instruction. So, he uses that analogy of a Father disciplining his son for his love after that son. Notice, Ephesians 6 4, “And fathers bring your children up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” Now, that analogy works when we understand the significance in the role of the Father in the life of the children. This is a really important thing for us to grasp. All of men could only understand their role.
The significance of a good, good father in the life of the children. I can’t not tell you how many wives just appeal, “Oh, we want our husbands to be engaged in this family. To be putting his heart into this family.” It’s very important, and I remember when my wife got pregnant with our first child. I will tell you before she got pregnant I will tell you honestly, I was really not into kids that much, okay? So, if you had a baby I wouldn’t be very excited about holding your baby, okay? I will just be straight up, but when she got pregnant something happened. It’s like a light went on. This thing clicked in me. It’s like, “I’m in, I want to go to every doctor’s appointment. I want to sing to the baby in the womb.” I want to feel all the movements. I’m in. It’s like something changed. A switch went on, and I even said to the doctor. We had a doctor that was, let’s say, flexible. So, I said to the doctor, “Hey, I have an idea. I want to deliver the baby myself in the hospital. Would you actually let me do the delivery?” And so, the doctor said “Yes, you can under two conditions. Yes, you can.” I said, “Really, what are they?” He said, “First condition, if anything happens. If anything goes wrong, you step aside, and let me take over.” To which I said, “Absolutely, so. Yes. You said there were two, what was the second one?” “You’re still paying the same price.” Okay, fine, okay, but like hey I’m in, and as a matter of fact I did get to deliver the baby, and something happened, and he had to step in.
A. Trust in the discipline of the Lord
But this is a key. I’m in, God wants the analogy works when we understand the role. And so, he goes on to then explain. Now, listen trust therefore in that discipline of the Lord. There is an aspect of faith here. There’s an aspect of faith because you believe that when God does bring a correction it’s because his goal, his intent, his desire is always good.
It’s always good, it’s always to bless, it’s always a good thing when he brings a word of correction. It’s like Jeremiah 29 11, “I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare” which means good, “And not for calamity.” My intent, my desire, my plans are to give you a future, and a hope. See, our ways get us in trouble. Our thoughts, our intents, they get us in trouble, but his ways is good. See, I love Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way, which seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.” Many people, when they open their eyes, begin to understand his ways are right and good. They lead to life. It’s a revelation that opens. It’s like a light comes on you recognize. It’s good to trust in the hand of the Lord. It’s good to trust. His ways are right. I trust. It’s like when a teenager comes to the revelation point. When they come to that revelation point when they realize their parents really do have good judgment. It’s like a miraculous light. It’s like the heavens have parted sort of moment. It’s like when they say, “Mom and dad, your wisdom is high. I cannot attain to it. Speak, for your son is listening.” It’s like okay, okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. That’s a revelation point where you get it. You recognize it. That’s what he says in verse five. “Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord.” In other words, there’s a light that comes on, and you recognize how serious. It’s a serious matter because you recognize that his intent is good.
So, there’s a key here. The key is to have a teachable, and sensitive heart that welcomes the authority of God. It’s a very important heart that actually welcomes this. It makes all the difference. It’s the diffidence between someone who is growing in their faith, growing in their relationship growing spiritual, and someone who is resisting the holy Spirit at every term. Some people just wrestle with God all their lives. Resisting, resisting, hardness of heart, resisting, resisting, and wrestling with God. Reminds me of the early chapters in the book of Axes where Steven. He is arrested for his proactive teaching, and he is called to give an account of this teaching to the council. And the interesting description. The scriptures says, “That when he stood in front of them he had the appearance of an angel.” We try to get their attention. He went back, in his speech, he went back through the history of Israel recounting for them the resisting of the holy Spirit. The contentions with the Lord recounting one after the other, and then he brought it to this crescendo point in Acts 7:51 when he brought it right into them where he said, “You men, you men are stiff necked, and uncircumcised, and hard at hears, and always resisting the holy spirt. You are doing just as your fathers did.” They didn’t really appreciate that very much because they were stiff necked and hard hearted. And they actually seized hold of him, dragged him out, and had him stoned. Interestingly though, as this was happening he actually had a view into heaven. “Behold, I see the son of man standing at the right hand of God.” And then he said, “Father, do not hold this sin against them.” Wow, and then he died. Stiff neck he said of them. Stiff necked, hard hearted. You don’t want to be a person with a stick neck, and really the word of stick neck comes from a plowman who would have the oxen, and he would have a stick, and he would be able to direct left or right.
Direct the course of the oxen simply with a stick, but if the oxen had an attitude, you might say, and resisted. He was stiff of neck. He wouldn’t bend. He would be stiff of neck, and so what the plowman would do is he would have to do a goad. A goad is like a sharp stick, and he would just have to hit the oxen in the haunches to get him to move. Now today we have electric prods. That takes it a whole other notch. You have to take the next step. If he’s stiff neck, take the next step, and you have to hit him in the haunches to get him to move in the direction he needs to go. He’s stiff necked. Now, it began then to be applied to people. People who were stiff necked were people who were not welcome the hand of God on their neck. They would resist it. It’s like when we were raising our boys, and I put my hand about that right size. You put your hand on their neck, it’s a great place for your hand, but it represents power and authority. No, they didn’t resist that. They didn’t have a problem with that. It’s like I put my hand on their necks, and like, “Yeah, that’s my dad. My dad is strong. My dad, he’s my dad. Dad’s always right. My dad.” And they welcomed it. They welcomed it. There’s no resisting that. They welcomed it because there was a love, right? But some people, they resist God, and they don’t want anyone’s hand on their neck. Don’t you touch me. No, no, don’t you touch me. That’s their response. No, the heart of the Lord here is good. He’s our Father. Welcome, you can put your hand on my neck anytime Lord because you are a good Father. You can change, you can direct my course. It reminds me of Psalm 32, verses 8 and 9. “I will instruct you, I will teach you in the way which you should go. I will council you with my eye upon you.”
B. Don’t faint when God reproves
I love that right there because it suggests a gentle thing. Just an eye. It’s like the picture of a Father who has that eye, that look. You’re in a social gathering or whatever, and the kids start misbehaving a bit, and the Father gives the look. And the kids look at dad. He’s got the look, and they realize, “Oh, dad’s giving me the look. It’s time to straighten up.” And so, they respond simply to that look. That’s a good relationship. That’s a good child. “I will instruct you with my eye.” Don’t be like the horse, or the mule, which have no understanding. Whose trappings include bip and bridle to hold them in touch. If you were to summarize the character of a mule in one word what would that one word be? Stubborn. It takes a two by four to get the attention of a mule. Don’t be like that. Don’t – God will step it up. Don’t be like that. He says, “Just welcome, welcome the hand of the Lord.” That’s what he says in that next phrase. “Don’t faint when God reproves.” Verse five, “Don’t faint when you are reproved for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines.” In other words, don’t respond poorly to that discipline, and the instruction of the Lord. Receive with good heart, with a sensitive, teachable heart. Some people, they know that God is correcting them. They know that God is disciplining them, and they get angry about it. They would hold their heart. They withdrawal. Reminds me of a time when one of our girls. She was very young, and she needed a strong correction, and it got a surprising reaction. She over reacted. She was upset, she was angry because she had gotten in trouble, and so she responded out of angry and she said, “I don’t love you anymore” to which I responded, “Loving me is not required, but listening to me is. You will surely listen.”
I knew she was just surely overreacting. I knew that love was sure. I knew that she would come around. Sometimes people get angry with God too, but it only hurts us when we pull away. When we withdraw from the one who loves us. It only shows how little we understand his love, and his goodness, and his purpose. Sometimes people get angry when they don’t understand the why. Why? Why did this happen? Why, why can't I tell you how many times over the course of the last few years I’ve had that question asked of our granddaughter to me? Why? Why? I don’t know why. Grandpa why? Why my mom? Why did she have to die? Why? Why did God allow this man to kill her? Why did he allow her to be born? Why? Why did God allow evil at all? Why did Adam and Eve have to blow it in the garden? Why? All these questions why. We don’t always know why, but here again faith is the answer because we believe that God knows why. We believe that God, he is able. We can trust that he is able to bring beauty out of ashes that his plans for us, or to give us a feature, and the hope. We can trust God. See, in Isiah 61 verses 1 to 3, Jesus quotes this by the way as he beings his ministry. “The Spirit in the Lord God is among me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted to bind up the broken hearted. To proclaim a favorable year of the Lord. To grant those who mourn in Zion giving them a garland instead of ashes. The oil of gladness instead of mourning. The mantle of praise instead of a Spirit of fainting.” And get this phrase, I love it. “They will be called oaks of righteousness the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified.” When you grasp that heart. When you understand his desire. He says, “You become like an oak of righteousness.”
Oak tress is strong. It’s got deep, deep roots. It can withstand the storms. It’s an oak of righteousness. He says the planting of the Lord. Great phrase.
II. The Lord Deals with You as Sons
Then you go back to Hebrews 12, and he brings it personally to us when he says, “The Lord deals with you as sons.” Verse seven. “It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with sons for what son is there whom his father does not discipline.” See, that’s faith. When you believe that he is a good, good father.
A. First, God brings correction
Good, good father, and you see the analogy because the analogy really works when you grasp that. See, just like a father. The first thing a father would do and bring a word of correction. A gentle word of correction, and so any similar way first God also brings correction. See, many Christians will tell you that God gave them a warning to correct their course before they made that bad decision. How many people even in this room would say, “Yeah, I know that. God gave me a warning before I made that bad decision.” How many people would say the same thing? See, we do understand that God brings a word. Sometimes it’s a gentle word. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed. Just a gentle word.
B. God may bring a correcting storm
Sometimes, he can bring a pretty sharp word. If he needs to bring a sharp word, that’s what he’ll bring. Reminds us of the disciples. He corrected the disciples. Sometimes it was a gentle word. Like, for example, the disciples were crossing the sea of Galilea in the middle of the night. Jesus was not with them. He had sent them on ahead. The crossing over the sea at night. They’re fighting the winds, fighting the waves. A great storm has come. They’re in the middle of the night. Hour upon hour they’re doing this battle with the storm, and here Jesus appears. Comes walking out to them onto the sea. You know this famous story, and so Peter sees him, and says “Lord, since it’s you. Command me to come out to you on the water.” And so, Jesus says, “Peter come.” And he gets out of the boat, and he’s walking to him on the water, and then he says, he sees the wind and the waves, and he becomes afraid, and he begins to sink.
And he calls out to the Lord. “Lord save me.” But the Lord reaches out his hand, and gives a word of correction, but notice if you would it’s a gentle word. See, Matthew 14 31, “Immediately Jesus took hold of him, and he said O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” See, he says, “O ye little faith.” Well, if Peter had little faith, what did the rest of them have? He’s the only one to get out of the boat, but he’s not rebuking Peter here. He’s essentially saying to Peter you were doing so well. You were doing so well, why did you doubt? O ye of little faith? Just a general word, but when necessarily the Lord can bring a sharp word. You remember when Jesus was speaking to the disciples, and he said, “Now listen, we’re on our way to Jerusalem. When we arrive to Jerusalem the son of man will be handed over to his enemies. He will be poorly treated. He’ll be scourged, crucified, but will rise again on the third day.” Now, Peter apparently didn’t hear the whole thing. He only heard the part about son of man is going to be handed over to his enemies, be poorly treated, and be crucified. He took Jesus aside, and if you can believe it brought a correction, a rebuke, to Jesus. God forbid it, man. God forbid it, this will never happen to you, and what he got was a sharp rebuke in return. This is Matthew 16 23, “Jesus can bring a sharp rebuke. Turning to Peter he said, you get behind me Satan.” You have to admit, that is a sharp word. Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me for you are not setting your mind on God’s interest but mans.” God can bring a gentle word, if that’s all that’s needed, wonderful. And God can also bring a correcting storm. There are many types of storms. Certainly, storms can be terrible and frightening.
We even name storms so we can identify one from the other. We name our hurricanes, although, I have to say. Looking at some of these names of hurricanes. Some of them don’t make sense. Some of them don’t resonate. Like they had hurricane Fiona. That doesn’t sound right, and then they had hurricane Richard. That is not right, I tell you right there, but then one of them Hurricane Igor. Now, that’s a name of a hurricane right there. Hurricane Igor, it just sounds bad. There’s different types of storms. They’re what we can call protecting storms. This is where you think you’re being blown off course, but in reality, God is protecting you. And he’s bringing you, taking you where you need to be. We’ll call it a protecting storm, but then there are what we might call protecting storms. This is where God will use that storm to perfect faith. To increase faith, that you might see as great power in his authority, and it increases, and transforms character. But then there’s what we can call a correction storm. Sometimes the only way a person can learn, or we hope they learn, is going through a hard storm. For some people that’s the only way. They got to hit bottom. For some people, they just got to hit bottom. That’s a tragic thing. Perhaps, a classic example would be Jonah. Jonah the prophet was called on by the Lord to go to the Assyrian people in Nenava. Bring a word to them that they would have an opportunity to repeat. You warn them of that tragedy to come, that they could turn around and repent, but Jonah would have nothing to do with it because he despised the people of Neneva, and instead of listening to the word, and following the instruction of the word. He went down to the port of Japa, and booked passage on the ship going in the exact opposite direction. So, the Lord brought a storm, a correcting storm. He had to get to the bottom. Had he hit bottom, for he turned around and called out to God.
Another example is the prodigal son in Luke 15. Here a young man gets his inheritance early. Absolutely turns worldly, blows it, the entire fortune is blown on worldly party living, you name it, he did it. Parties, women, late night, all the stuff. He did it all, and then he said after he blew all the whole entire fortune a famine hit the land. Oh, here’s that storm. Famine hit the land. Can't even get a job. Used to be wealthy. Now he can't even get a job. Say, well he’s at the bottom. Oh no, it gets worse. He finally gets a job but it’s the worst possible job a Jew could have. It’s feeding swine. Well, he’s at the bottom now, oh no it gets worse. At some point, he gets jealous of the pigs. They have food, and he does not, and then, and then he’s hit bottom. Then he turns around. I love Luke 15, verses 17 and 19 because he uses this phrase. “When he came to his senses” that point is a beautiful point. It’s that pivot, it’s that turn. It’s the hinge point. It’s a beautiful thing because the life is turned. Many people have seen their lives restored, renewed, rebuilt, but they had to get to that point first. They had to turn. They had to look the other direction. When they came to his sense he said, “I will get up, I will go to my Father, and I will say to him Father, I have sinned against heaven, and your sight.” Would you notice that he’s owning it? He owns it. I admit it, I own it, I sinned against heaven and in your sight. I own it. This is a really important key. That hinge point that someone turns around, they come to their senses, they got to own it, but then would you notice this next phrase. “I will say unto him I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” I’m not asking to be recognized as a son. I’m not worthy of that. I’m just asking can you take me as one of your hired men. I’m just asking, can you give me a job? He’s completely humble now. So, he gets up, he goes to his Father. We love this part of the story because the story is about the Father. He sees his boy from a long way off down the road. He runs down the road, and he falls on his boy, and he’s hugging, he’s kissing, and he’s responding emotionally to his boy, and his son has his speech all prepared. Father I’ve sinned, I’ve sinned against heaven and your sight. I’m not worth calling a son. Don’t call me your son. I’m just asking for a job. You got to love the heart of the Father because the heart of the Father is to restore, to rebuild, to renew. And the Father responds, “Kill the spotted calf. We are going to have a feast today.” Because my son, my son, my son was dead, but my son is alive. My son was lost, but my son has been found. Bring a robe, and put it over those filthy clothes, and bring sandals, and put it on those dirty feet, and put a ring, and put it on the finger of my son for he was dead and is now alive. Because the Lord delights.
He delights when someone turns his life. The Lord knows what it takes. The Lord knows what it takes. For some gentle word is all it takes. Other people, they got to hit bottom. The Lord knows what it takes, and here’s the thing. There’s no manipulating God. You can manipulate mom and dad, but you cannot manipulate God. Reminds me of when I was a young boy, and I misbehaved to the point where I needed a spanking. Now, just for the record let me say it was exceptionally rare. Back when I grew up when we got a spanking we got a real deal spanking. Anybody relate to this? I mean she would get a willow switch. That’s the worst possible thing you can get a spanking with, a willow switch. But sometimes she would tell me to go get my own switch. She said go get your own switch, but she didn’t’ say willow, and so I knew if I could get my mom to laugh she would lighten up. And I could always get my mom to laugh because I was her favorite. And so, I would go – she would say go get your own switch. I would go get some honkin 2 by 4 or something, and she comes back and she starts laughing, and ease up on me, but you can’t manipulate God. In Galatians 6 verses 7 to 9, strong word, but it’s a good word. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. That which a man sows, he will reap. The one who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption” but would you notice this promise. He always adds this promise. The one who sews to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. You want to reap life? He tells you how. You always reap more than you sew. You want life? You get to choose. You want life, you want blessing, you want the full – the Spirit will see to it. Reap life man.
C. God’s purpose is to share His holiness
Notice this, that’s why he says back in Hebrews 12. That’s why he says, “God’s purpose is to share his holiness.” See, notice verse 10. “They discipline us for a short time, as seen best in, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness.” He says, “First of all, when God disciplines us as sons it proves that we are legitimate. That you are a legitimate adopted son or daughter.”
Notice verse eight, “If you are without discipline than you are illegitimate children, and are not sons.” In other words, you don’t discipline other people’s children that you see misbehaving at the mall even though I wanted to many times. You discipline your own children because of your love for them. I’ve had many corrective conversations with my teenage children, and it comes down to one crux point. Am I for you or am I against you? Oh, my teenage son, I’m asking you a question. Am I for you or am I against you? Please acknowledge and answer me this question oh my teenage son, or daughter, am I for you or am I against you. Thank you that’s right. I am for you. And my intention is to bless you, and to help you, and to bring my judgment and wisdom for your good. I’m asking that you would trust it. Trust it, I am for you. Trust that. I am trying to help you become that man or woman that God intends for you to be. I’m for you. In the same way, God is for us, and he wants to build in us that which is good. His character is his holiness, and so therefore, he wants to increase us in patience, and in love, and in forgiveness, and in mercy, and kindness. Because if you lack these things, if you lack these things you are headed for big trouble. But he wants to bless us. See, if you have these things, and they are increasing, you are useful and fruitful to the Lord. And in your life, blessings, great blessings come. Notice in second Peter chapter 1 verse 5 to 8. “In your faith, supply moral excellence, and godliness, and brotherly kindness supply love for if these qualities are yours, and are increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If these things are lacking, we’re headed for trouble, but God knows how to correct the course. To bring about his character, his holiness, that transformation which is good. His desire is to bless our heart, our heart must be to say, “God, I welcome, I welcome your hand on my neck. On my heart, on my life. I welcome it.” Let’s pray.