Joseph Herrin (03-30-2012)
This present look at the chastisement of sons has provoked a lot of response, and it has been quite mixed. Numerous saints have written to share their own experiences of Yahweh disciplining them, while others have written to object to the idea that God would inflict injury or suffering upon His children. Following is one testimony from a brother who wrote to share of a time when he knew with a certainty that Yahweh had afflicted him.
I want to through my two cents worth into the mix on broken legs, I too had an experience some twenty years ago when I was sure Yahovah broke my leg to get my attention back to Him and His will for me, I fell off the roof at home trying to fix a leak from the rain, I knew when I hit the ground it was My God who was responsible for my accident, He put me in hospital for it to be pinned and my wife bought in some books for me to read whilst I was in there, one of them was on discipline of His disciples, and the moment I began to read it I knew for sure it was HIM who put me on my back to shut up and listen too his message. To make a long story short the break healed perfectly, according to my doctor you wouldn’t know it was ever broken.
Then there is the testimony of a Christian sister who recognized Yahweh’s chastisement when it occurred, but was later talked out of it.
I thank the Lord for his faithfulness to perfect you! Your situation here reminds me of a sister's situation, except her outcome is different, [being an example of the type of arguments you are receiving from people who object to what you have shared]. This sister before being saved, did cocaine. Awhile after being saved she was angry at her husband for still using the drug. She thought, "Fine. I will show him. If he wants to do it, I will too!" So she went in the house and did a line. She testified to me, that she walked out the door right afterward and slipped and broke her leg. She said she knew right away it was the Lord chastening her for doing that and she repented right away and was moved at his love for her!
However, she then began going to a church that teaches that God does not do that!... That was many years ago and her testimony is no longer told to my knowledge of the broken leg, and repentance. It has been replaced with how God would not do that now and He just desires us to be rich. Hopefully your testimony will make some consider their own testimony and what they have been taught since.
God bless brother
Glen Pickren, a brother in Christ who resides in California, wrote to me regarding the illustration of the shepherd breaking the sheep’s leg to keep it from straying. I had mentioned in a previous post that I had heard this before, but had not confirmed the validity of the illustration. Glen sent me this succinct reply.
Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
David being a shepherd is speaking of the common practice to discipline a wayward sheep who kept going astray. Knowing that the sheep's life is at stake the shepherd would break the sheep's leg, then bind it up, and then carry the sheep on his shoulders until the leg healed. Once healed, the sheep would closely follow the shepherd wherever he went.
Bedouin shepherds in Israel do this to this day. Bill Cooper (an elderly minister this brother knows and respects) saw it on a trip there.
David was the writer of this Psalm. The occasion was his reflecting upon the discipline Yahweh had brought after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and deceitfully had her husband killed in an attempt to hide his sin.
Yahweh disciplined David severely for his transgressions. The child born of the act of adultery died. Yahweh declared to David that his own wives would be sexually violated publicly, even as he had sexually violated his neighbor’s wife privately. In addition to this, Yahweh said the sword would never depart from David’s house. The discipline of Yahweh was severe, but it was needful in order to teach David to hate this sin that had led him to act in such an ungodly manner.
Yahweh’s corrective path for David was excruciating. David’s eldest son Amnon began to lust after Tamar, a beautiful virgin daughter of David by another wife. His lust was so intense that he made himself sick pining away for his half-sister. Amnon ended up using deception to get his sister to come wait upon him in his bedchamber. He then raped her, and having done this vile deed, his hatred of his sister became more intense than the lust he had for her formerly. He sent her away in shame, and the news came to David.
What do you suppose David thought when he heard of this? David was surely grieved at heart that this beautiful virgin daughter had been violated. Her virginity had been taken from her. Her opportunity to be given as a bride to some noble in a holy union was wrested from her. David, however, must have been truly conflicted. We are told that he heard about Amnon’s transgression, but said nothing about it. Surely David’s own sin was before his eyes and he saw his transgression as worse than his son’s. How could he chasten his son when his own sins were far worse? A sense of shame hindered David from taking that action which was demanded.
When David failed to act, Tamar’s brother Absalom rose up. He formed a plot to take vengeance on his half-brother. He waited patiently, and when the matter dseemed forgotten, he arranged for all of David’s sons to come to a feast at his house. When the signal was given, Absalom and his servants rose up and slew Amnon. Absalom then fled and went to live in a foreign country.
David loved Absalom. Like his sister Tamar, he was beautiful. There was not a defect on him from the top of his head to the sole of his foot. After some time had passed, Absalom petitioned his father to allow him to return to Jerusalem. David permitted him to do so, but did not give Absalom an invitation to see his face. The murder of David’s firstborn son was a great transgression, though David had also murdered an innocent man. David was learning by these tragic and painful events to hate the sin that he had formerly embraced.
With the aid of David’s general Joab, Absalom eventually won an audience with his father, but the relationship was strained. David loved Absalom dearly, but he held himself aloof from him due to the murder of Amnon. Absalom became bitter and plotted a revolt. He gathered the hearts of all of the people to himself, forcing David and those loyal to him to flee Jerusalem. A battle ensued and David’s hardened forces routed the much larger army of Absalom. In the melee Absalom was slain.
David’s sorrow was complete. Though he had won the battle and the kingdom was restored to him, David had no joy in it. He mourned grievously for his fallen son. David recognized that this entire series of tragic events began with his own unbridled lust. Now David had two dead sons, and a daughter who had been sexually violated. In addition, Absalom had fulfilled the word of the prophet and lain publicly with a number of David’s wives that had been left in Jerusalem when he fled the city.
People of God, is there any man among you who would not choose for God to break their leg rather than to undergo the experience of chastisement that David received from the hand of Yahweh? David was truly scourged. Yahweh inflicted great suffering and injury to this man and his family. Yet, in the process, He taught David to hate the sin that had precipitated it all. I am confident that David learned the lesson well. He came to loathe sexual lust, so that the very thought of it turned his stomach. I do not mean sex itself became detestable, but rather the inordinate desire for it, the twisting and distorting of sexual desire that is manifested in fornication, adultery, and other ruinous behaviors.
It was many years back that Yahweh revealed to me this pattern of sin and divine correction in the life of King David. At the time I was struggling with many lustful thoughts and had an addiction to pornography. My children were mere babes at the time, and I considered what evil would result in my home if I did not rule over this area of fleshly passion and desire. An image flashed into my mind of my lust giving birth to adulterous action and it being exposed openly where everyone knew about it. I saw in my mind’s eye for a moment the hurt in my wife’s heart, and my shame before the eyes of my children. I considered the reproach that would be brought against the God I served, and I was left trembling. It was an exceptionally vivid, and realistic image that God placed in my mind. I could perceive these things as if they were actually taking place. In great fear I cried out fervently to Yahweh to deliver me from this sin and to keep me from bringing open shame to Him, my family, and myself.
The Father heard my prayer that day. Shortly afterwards He set me free from pornography. He did so by teaching me the fear of Him. People of God, apart from a real fear of the holy discipline of Yahweh in our lives, we will not arrive at that condition of personal holiness in our thoughts and actions that Yahweh demands of His sons and daughters.
II Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Sin is intransigent. It is stubbornly bound to the flesh in which we dwell. It is never going to depart as long as we abide in sinful flesh. For this reason we must stir ourselves up in our spirit man to buffet our bodies and keep them under subjection. Yahweh knows that we need strong encouragement in this matter. While our love of God is yet imperfect, we must be induced to rule over the passions and desires of the flesh as we are trained by the rod of correction. Until the heart of Christ is fully formed in us, we need help in restraining our flesh. Yahweh is both just and loving to scourge His sons, thereby directing them to share in his righteousness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
A sixteen year old sister in Christ who lives in Alabama wrote me the following words which greatly encouraged my heart.
Hey Mr. Herrin,
It's Zoe. We received your blog about your leg injury, due to your disobedience to the Lord ... So, I just wanted to encourage you and say that we’ll all fall, but as the Proverb says, "A righteous man may fall seven times but he rises again."
I wrote back to Glen Pickren, asking him if he could provide me with further details of the eye-witness account of the brother who saw the Bedouin shepherds practicing this form of behavior modification with their sheep. He sent me back the following:
I talked to Bill and got more details. He had related the practice David alludes to then mentioned his encounter with the young Bedouin shepherd. Bill was riding in a tour bus going from Jerusalem to Jericho when a young man carrying a sheep came running toward the bus and flagged it down. The bus stopped for him and he boarded. Then, the bus turned around and went back to Jerusalem and let the boy off at a veterinarian's office. The tour guide was an Arab who spoke Arabic as did the shepherd. When the passengers inquired what was going on he explained that he had broken the sheep's leg intending to just fracture it, but he had instead caused a compound fracture, hence the need for the vet to set the leg...
I had forwarded to Glen a link to a site that suggested that the practice of shepherd’s breaking the legs of lambs that strayed was a myth. The site also expressed the view that corporal punishment of children by parents is an ungodly practice. Glen added the following in his reply to me.
It is abundantly clear from scripture what God thinks of child discipline not only in specific verses such as:
A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Do not hold back discipline from the child. Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol.
My son, do not reject the discipline of Yahweh or loathe His reproof, for whom Yahweh loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
Which passage is applied to the Christian as follows:
And you have forgotten the exhortation 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 there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
And the entire Bible is filled with examples of the Lord's discipline of His people. It is the notion of the Lord's practice of discipline these professing Christians seem to object to, not just the sheep story.
Brothers and sisters, we live in that hour described by the apostle Paul.
II Timothy 4:2-3
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will heap up for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires...
The church has truly “heaped up” ministers who proclaim a sensual message that is enticing to the flesh of man. The image of a holy God who chastens His sons has been removed from the pulpit. It has been replaced with proclamations of a tolerant, appeasing deity who panders to the desires of the flesh and wants all His children to be sated with material possessions and entertained with endless pleasures. The church of today is more akin to a cruise ship than a crucible in which holy men and women are formed. The message of Yahweh’s discipline of His people is cast away as an undesirable relic of unenlightened forefathers whose thinking was primitive, cruel, and authoritarian.
I believe it is the last word of the preceding paragraph that is especially offensive to Christians today. The word “authoritarian” has developed very negative associations. The Adamic nature is rebellious. We live in the midst of a rebellious nation (I speak as one dwelling in America). The nation began with an act of rebellion and a declaration of man’s natural right to pursue “happiness.” Happiness has come to include whatever deviant behavior that brings pleasure to a man or woman. Fornication is promoted as healthy and desirable.
To remain a virgin until married will result in someone being stigmatized as being sexually repressed. Homosexuality is championed from the highest political office in the land. Abortion, which is always the fruit of sexual union, most often illicit sexual behavior in Yahweh’s eyes, is guarded zealously as a basic human right. No thought at all is given to the fact that babies are being murdered in the wombs of their mothers.
Those who would speak out against this profligate pursuit of the hedonistic desires of the flesh are castigated as “haters” and “despots” who want to impose their morality upon others. Such ones are not even permitted to speak in the churches of this hour. The message of holiness is offensive to the sensual masses with whom the churches have filled their pews.
The morality of Yahweh is in conflict with the immorality of man. As the church decries the government’s actions in removing the Ten Commandments from courthouses and public venues, they have themselves banned the voice of truth and conviction from being heard in their midst. Yahweh will chasten His sons and daughters that they might not walk in the same selfish, sinful path as the world. Though they refuse to abide a message of divine correction, His hand will not be stayed. Judgment is at the door.
I Peter 4:17-18
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
Christ did not proclaim the message of easy belief that is heard throughout Christendom today. His message of an afflicted path that leads to life, and few there be that find it, has been replaced with the broad path of prosperity and blessing, crowded with multitudes of sensual believers. Is it any wonder that many are offended at the suggestion that Yahweh would break the leg of one of His sons as an act of discipline? Those with understanding are not offended. They perceive the glorious inheritance of the overcomers. They perceive the preeminence of the firstborn sons of God who will attain to the first resurrection. They realize that most Christians will fall short. They will be shut out from access to the inner chamber of God. They will forfeit things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the mind of man, those things which are prepared for the sons of glory.
Recognize the truth in the words that “Yahweh is not a respecter of persons.” Yahweh will not be mocked. Each person will reap what they sow. If they sow to the flesh they will reap destruction. If they sow to the Spirit they will reap life to the ages. Christ is coming quickly. His reward is with Him to render unto every man according as his work shall be.
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": aeonian life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Let us take these words to heart and tremble. Yahweh is not some mush God who will wink at sin, nor One who rewards careless and sensual Christians with eternal blessing. Let us have the attitude of the apostle Paul who said:
II Corinthians 5:10-11
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.
I pray that you might be persuaded by these words.
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