IN the attempt to comply with the request of a brother living in Indiana, and knowing at the same time that any effort of ours will be useless and to no point except the Lord be in the matter, we take up the above tremendous subject, which would require a volume to do it justice and which can be but barely outlined in the space we have before us. The Lord commanded the prophet Hosea to take unto himself an adulterous woman for a wife, so he married Gomer the daugher of Diblaim. This is one of the bitterest things the Lord ever told a prophet to do, but in so doing the Lord intended to give Israel an object-lesson whereby they should know just in what position they were before the Lord. Of this marriage of Hosea with Gomer, were born three children: the first a son whom he named Jezreel, signifying the Lord will scatter; the second a daughter whom he named Lo-ruhamah, signifying without mercy or unpitied; the third, another son named Lo-ammi, signifying not my people. Thus, the fruit of Hosea's marriage to Gomer meant scattered, unpitied and forsaken. Thus Israel had a picture set before their nation, in this marriage of the prophet, showing clearly that Israel ws an adulterous nation and had departed from the Lord who had redeemed them out of Egypt, and had gone whoring after false gods and false ways, attributing to lovers the thanks and praise rightly due unto the true God. The blessings which Israel had received at the hands of the Lord, she thought came to her from her lovers. Therefore, the Lord said he would take these blessing from her, that he would scatter Israel, show her no mercy, and treat her as if she were not his people at all. As the fruit of Hosea's marriage with Gomer was Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi, so would the fruit of Israel's strayings from the Lord result in their being scattered mercilessly into forsakenness and desolation. Yet, "the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered: and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel." There is, therefore, no escaping the conclusion that the chastisement of Israel is to bear fruit in restoration. Where it was said to them, "Lo-ammi," it shall be said "ammi" and "Lo-ruhamah" is to be changed to "ruhamah." Instead of no mercy, she shall obtain mercy. The object of the Lord in the chastisement of his people is never to cast them utterly away from him, but to discipline them for their safety and instruction. Chastisement has for its object the good of the one chastised. This good effect, it always has in the case of the people of God. When God chastises the nations outside of Israel it is for the casting down of those nations, and is often for their destruction. For instance, time and again throughout the New Testament, the Lord destroys whole peoples in order to do his own Israel good and to deliver them from their troubles and their captivities. The Lord did not hesitate, when it became necessary, to give Egypt for the redemption of Israel out of Egypt. "I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee." - Isaiah xliii. 3, 4. The Lord uses wars, famines, pestilences, deaths, distresses of every sort in order to wear down the nations very much as water continually dropping wears even stones. This he does in order to debase the nations of the earth to bring about the exaltion of his own everlasting kingdom. It is true that the Lord did at one time greatly prosper Babylon and did give Judah into captivity thereunder, but how did it end? It ended by Babylon herself going into captivity, nto for a few years only as had Israel, but permantly. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers which once watered Babylon and made it exceedingly fertile, began to steadily dwindle; and as they dwindled, the Babylon they watered also dwindled until Babylon passed into the limbo of dead nations. Just as surely as ancient Babylon died, it is just as true that the Babylon of the modern world will also, and is now, dwindling never to rise again. As the Lord dried up the ancient river Euphrates, so does he now employ the four horsemen to afflict modern Babylon; just so does he dry up the modern Euphrates which waters and nourishes modern Babylon. This reiver Euphrates represents the resources of the nations' wealth without which they will surely die. When their gold and their silver are gone, their river is dried up and they must perish. As this Euphrates dries up, the nations find themselves unable to resist the coming of the kings out of the east to overwhelm them. Thus, we see distresses, famines, pestilences, wars and all their train wearing down the nations to make way for their overthrow by portentous things out of the east. (Revelation xvi. 12.) My main object in speaking of these things now is to show that while God's chastisement of the nations of the earth means death and destruction to them, his chastisement of his chosen people means life and salvation to them. In the case of God's Israel, his fatherly chastisements bring restoration; in the case of the world, the fierce fire of his anger consumes it. "Behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths." What a blessing it is that we cannot find our own paths. If we could succeed in walking in our paths, those ways of our own devising, we would wanter utterly away from the truth and salvation. However, the Lord so hedges us about with his chastisements that we cannot find our false lovers though we seek earnestly for them, and each time we try to force through this hedge of his care we run ourselves through with thorns. Thus, does he prove to us that we are his people and that we cannot direct our own steps, cannot find our own way. Each time we are determined to have our own way we run against his "wall" which shuts us in. Chastisement, therefore, to the children of God is disciplinary and is for thier instruction in righteousness and for their growth and grace. Chastisement is one of the inevitable marks of the Lord's people. Could we rid ourselves of it, we would prove ourselves to be bastards and not sons. To successfully avoid chastisement, would be to rob ourselves of our spiritual birthright. In a recent SIGNS we published an article of the late Elder L.H. Hardy on this subject in which he showed so aptly that the righteous (not the wicked) have many afflictions, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. So many people associate affliction with disobedience. Some falsely reason that the way to get rid of affliction is to be obedient unto the Lord. This is spurious teaching and cannot stand against the truth of revelation. The Lord chastens all whom he loves, he scourges each and every son whom he receives. To be without chastening is to be a bastard, an illegitmate child. If the church in the days of the apostles, and if the apostles themselves, could have adapted themselves and their teachings to the world in which they then lived, they would have avoided persecution. To have bought exemption from persecution at such a price would have been to deny the faith and the blood of teh Lord Jesus. Such was utterly impossible. The church at Rome, if it could have conformed to the pagan Roman world of its day, would have secured peace from martyrdom. It could not be. The followers of Christ can no more conform to the world, no matter in what age they live, than they can blot the sun from the sky or create another world. This inability to conform to the world is a lively mark of the true church and is proof that she is indeed the body of Christ; that as her Head was hated by the world of his day to whcih he would not yield allegiance, so his body the church is hated by the world to which it cannot yield obedience. Chastisement, therefore, is a mark of righteousness, not of unrighteousness; of obedience, not of disobedience. In the church at Laodicea, there were mostly those who thought themselves rich when they were, in the Lord's eyes, wretchedly poor; they were increased with goods, needing nothing. Nevertheless, even in Laodicea were a few the Lord loved. These he rebuked and chastised. He did not rebuke and chasten the self-sufficient, proudful ones, but only those he loved. Was not this rebuking and chastening, then, a sign from the Lord that he loved them? Indeed, yes. This Laodicean church aptly describes modern christendom, both Catholic and Protestant. Never at any time before in the world's history has the so-called church been as fat, as prosperous, as wealthy in lands, houses and church edifices as to-day; never has she been as self-sufficient, self-righteous, wanting nothing, as now. Yet, in the midst of even modern christendom are a few whose names are unsullied with idolatries: these elect names are the Lord's. As proof that they are his, he chastens and rebukes them. (Revelation iii. 19.) To these the Lord says, "Repent," and indeed his elect ones are even now repenting of the mondern conditions prevailing all about us, these chosen ones are turning away in horror and disgust from all the pridefulness of the modern world and its religiosity.
In conslusion, it is an awful error to say that chastisement is a mark of the Lord's displeasure. When visited upon the reprobate wicked, it is a mark of his anger; but upon his elect, it proves to them his fatherly watchcare over his people whom he loves. Just suppose that chastisement is a sign of disobedience in the one chastised, then it woudl follow that the way to avoid chastisement would be to obey and to stop disobeying. If correct, the chastisement would cease the very moment the child obeyed. If the chastisement ceased, then that child would be a bastard and not a son. Do you not see what a terrible conclusion such false reasoning would bring us? It cannot be. If disobedience brings chastisement, then the very worst thing we can do is to obey; since obedience would then bring exemption from chastisement, it would also prove our illegitimacy and not our right to the promise as real sons of God. - H.H.L
Elder H.H. Lefferts
Signs of the Times
Vol. 99, No. 3 - March 1931