Hebrews 12:11

“Now 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.”

~ Hebrews 12:11

Our verse begins with a truth so obvious and universal that no serious objection to it could come from any quarter—“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.” Who could honestly object? Who has not experienced chastisement of one form or another? Who could not render credible testimony to the grievous nature of chastisement? No one rightly enjoys the chastisement itself whether it is lovingly or hatefully administered, though the latter does add to its grievousness.

A reasonable question would be: Why state a truth so obvious to any reader? One reason we find is the contrast made in the passage. Here the chastening from God is set apart from all other chastisements. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). In the fact that He chastens, He is like many others, but in the nature of His discipline, He is different from all others.

We have all been chastened by our father or some other authority over us, but all of those chastenings cannot be said to have immediately been for our good. “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure” (Hebrews 12:10). However good or ill intentioned, man’s discipline does not always effect good in the recipient. It is easy for man to take the rod, be too severe, and do great harm rather than good. It may fulfill their design to inflict pain but it is not for the good of the chastened. It is also easy for man to neglect the rod or be too soft and also do great harm, although the harm is different from the physical pain of severity.

However, God is neither too soft nor too severe with His discipline. God’s chastisement is ever tempered by His design, which is expressly “our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Joseph came under such discipline and rightly discerned the hand of God from the hand of man. He said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

You may be surprised that I would allude to Joseph for he suffered wrongfully at the hands of his brothers and how could that be the chastening of God? First, note that I am not attempting a full exposition of the doctrine of God’s chastening. Secondly, we must realize that God’s chastening is not punitive only but also instructive as the Greek word paideia suggests. That word is a broad word that means training, including both correction and instruction. It is used such in Ephesians 6:4 and there rendered ‘nurture’. Regardless of the form chastisement takes, God always designs and administers it for our good.

Here we find a reason for the obvious statement of our text—That we might rightly discern and acknowledge God in our afflictions. In affliction, some are like Pharaoh and ask, “Who is the LORD” (Exodus 5:2). Others complain against Him terribly exclaiming, “Why am I suffering so? I have done nothing to deserve it!” Our response should be more in line with the godly Joseph who said, “God meant it unto good;” or like Job who said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21); or even as Eli who confessed, “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Samuel 3:18).

Finally, the verse provides us with another important contrast. Scripture does not conceal the fact that God’s chastening does involve grief. In this, it is not entirely different, nor entirely the same as other chastening. However, the contrast is seen between the temporary nature of the grief compared to the lasting fruit of His discipline. “Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Our temporal displeasure, discomfort, or pain gives way to the lasting “fruit of righteousness” of our sanctification in Christ. And, that sanctification works to our final glorification in Him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

1 Peter 3:6

“Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord:
whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well,
and are not afraid with any amazement.”

~ 1 Peter 3:6

Our verse occurs in a section of Peter’s epistle that deals with submission and subjection of various kinds. All are to be subject to the civil government that is over them: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:13-14). The employee is to submit to his employer: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward” (1 Peter 2:18). At this point Peter interjects with the greatest pattern of submission and subjection—Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25)—pointing out that it is our calling to follow Him in all things and be like Him even as He submitted. Peter continues to admonish the wives to submit to their own husbands: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

Another way of looking at the subject of submission is to look at the subject of authority, for there really is no submission without proper authority. Only God has ultimate, unlimited authority and He gives authority to men for various purposes (Daniel 4:35; 2:21). This means that all other authority is limited—it has a proper jurisdiction. For any authority to go beyond its jurisdiction is for that authority to become an unlawful usurper, and in certain cases, disregard of such a human authority is warranted (ref. Daniel 3).

However, submission is not a prerogative. Subjection to human authority is qualified or limited in the same sense that that authority is limited, but it is required. Notice though, how that submission is not qualified. We are to submit to our civil government. We may not like the government; the government may be corrupt in many ways; the party in power may not be the one we voted for, etc. Nonetheless, we are to submit to their authority. The employee is to submit to the employer; not only when he likes the boss, agrees with him, etc. Whether he is “good and gentle” or “forward,” he must submit to his jurisdiction. A wife is to submit to her own husband and not only if he is godly, humble, nice, right, etc. Peter specifically here addresses the wife with an unbelieving husband. She simply may not say, “Well, my husband is unsaved. He is ungodly. I don’t have to submit to him.” As a Christian in this situation, she should be all the more careful to submit for they may “be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

One reason for our qualified/unqualified submission is that God is the ultimate authority. Since God is the ultimate authority, all authority is derived from Him, and ultimately, all of our submission, though it is to human authorities, is actually unto God. Paul said, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Employees submit to their employers “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6-7).

Now, let us return to our text and consider the first phrase, “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” Sarah is given as a real-life example of faith operative in a Christian wife. First, she obeyed her husband. “Obeyed” here is translated from the Greek word hupakouo, which means:

to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority (Strong’s Concordance).

This word is used 21 times in the New Testament. It is used in such ways as the wind and sea obeying Jesus (Matthew 8:27); the evil spirits obeying Jesus (Mark 1:27); obedience to God (Romans 6:16); obedience to the gospel (Romans 10:16); children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1); servants are to obey their masters (Colossians 3:22); Abraham obeying God (Hebrews 11:8); Sarah obeying Abraham (1 Peter 3:6), etc.

Secondly, Sarah called her husband, “lord.” The word here translated is kurios. This word signifies one having power or authority. This word also speaks of possession or one who has the disposal of something. The word is translated variously in the New Testament as ‘lord’, ‘master’, ‘owner’, etc. It is a descriptive title given to one to whom submission is due. It often was used of civil rulers, emperors, kings. The word can also be used in a very general sense as a title of respect like our English ‘sir’ or ‘Mr.’ However, given the context of our verse, the general meaning is not in use here. Note the connection here with obedience giving the word its normal authoritative signification.

Sarah here had a proper confession—she called her husband lord. She is not the exemplar merely because she called him lord, but rather because she submitted to him and called him lord. Her words were meaningless if not accompanied by the proper submission. I have left many things unsaid at this point, but it is not my purpose to dwell on the husband/wife relationship specifically. We have in our text a great statement about lordship and it will be profitable for us to consider it applied to Jesus for a moment.

The term ‘Lord’ is used so freely and easily today that it probably does not have the impact on us it should. The word is not a formality or mere convention by which we refer to Jesus. This title carries with it the full weight of Divine, Sovereign, and Ruler. It points us to the absolute, ultimate authority of God. We are to confess and acknowledge His lordship, which brings us to some unpacking.

In our example, Abraham’s lordship, though neither ultimate nor absolute, required submission. He was a master/owner and his servants were to submit to him. He was the head of a house, which he commanded (Genesis 18:19), and they were responsible to obey. Even in the human realm, lordship is inseparable from obedience/submission/subjection. Remember the man with two sons whom he commanded to work in his vineyard. The first said he would not, but later repented and went. The second said he would and called his father “sir” (lord, kurios), but did not go. Jesus asked, “Whether of them twain did the will of his father?” (Matthew 21:31). The answer was obviously the first son.

If this is required in human lordship, what must be required in the Divine lordship? It is not surprising that confession of Jesus as Lord also requires submission to His rule. Jesus asked, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Paul wrote, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Confessing Jesus as Lord is not a formula to be simply repeated. It is not a mere movement of the mouth. It is also a bending of the knee, a submitting to His rule. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Let us all then be like Sarah who obeyed and confessed. May the title “Lord” never fall from our lips in vain. Let us be as the first son and repent, abdicate, and submit to the Lord. Finally, let us rejoice in the Lord. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, the LORD reigneth” (1 Chronicles 16:31).

Psalm 97:12

“Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous;
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”

~ Psalm 97:12

God’s holiness is commended to our remembrance. It is not the doctrine of God’s holiness that we are to remember, but His real holiness. His actual holiness causes the righteous to rejoice and give thanks. They rejoice and are thankful for His holiness. God’s holiness is set forth throughout this Psalm. Let us come aside and remember His holiness.

HIS HOLINESS IS SUPREME, for “The LORD reigneth” (Psalm 97:1). None can ascend above God or be comparable to Him. None can even reckon the extent of His dominion—it encompasses all things seen and unseen. Even man’s imagination cannot place a figment above God for all the pagan worshipers are confounded by His holiness (Psalm 97:7). How can they figure it? How can they fashion it? How can they make a likeness of it? Though they boast, they utterly fail—“For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods” (Psalm 96:9).

Even the idols must bow to Him, “worship him, all ye gods” (Psalm 97:7). Idolaters make no progress against His holiness; it is even as Paul told Timothy of those who “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” They fight against God, “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men” (2 Timotthy 3:8-9).

HIS HOLINESS IS TERRIBLE, for “Clouds and darkness are round about him” (Psalm 97:2). His holiness abides in righteousness and judgment. In these, God delights. His righteousness means He is faithful. Of what He has purposed, not one tittle shall fail.

In holiness, He dwells in judgment—pleading the cause of the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow. He hears the cry of their righteous blood and vindicates them. If God calls you a worm, rejoice—it means He is taking up your cause. For thus He spoke to Jacob, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14). He did not speak to Jacob thus to grind him into the dust, rather to lift him out of the dust. In the Scripture, we find ourselves as weak, full of sores, a frame of dust, a flower of the field, a vanishing vapor, etc. In all this, we are weak and helpless, but He will take us up, plead our cause, and vindicate us with His holy judgment.

HIS HOLINESS IS NOT PASSIVE, for “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (Psalm 97:3). Neither is His holiness contained or subdued. His holiness is then victorious consuming His enemies. What have we then to fear? The earth trembles at His light (Psalm 97:4); “The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth” (Psalm 97:5). Who shall oppose any that are on the Lord’s side?

HIS HOLINESS IS NOT HIDDEN. Even the heavens cannot remain silent or indifferent, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (Psalm 97:6). The fool says there is no God. The wicked refuse to acknowledge Him and look blindly in the light of the noon sun. However, are not the works of His holiness entered into the eyes and ears of His people? “Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD” (Psalm 97:8). Do you not hear the chorus of birds singing praise to their maker? Do you not see the glory of the sun spreading its light to illuminate the creation of the Holy God before our eyes? Does not the corn and wheat stand in the field waving an offering to the one who is righteous, faithful to send the sun, wind, and rain upon the earth so that it responds by bearing forth its fruits?

. “He preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” (Psalm 97:10-11). What a ground and anchor is the Lord’s holiness! Those who love Him love His holiness and therefore, “hate evil” (Psalm 97:10).

Why then are we troubled? Why then are we downcast? Why then do we presume to be trodden under foot? His holiness is the rejoicing of our heart and the very knife cutting the taut sack, which bursts open with gratitude. His holiness is an impeccable light and there we have fellowship with Him.

What a shame that any of His people should need reminded to remember His holiness and give thanks. May our hearts and minds soar upward in the quiet gray of the morning when we render thanks unto Him for the day He has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in the light of the day that declares His righteousness unto us. “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 97:12).

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