Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Tough Love

The discipline fits the lesson.

Amos 3:1–2

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:

“You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

Remember how yesterday’s lesson noted that the punishment fits the crime. Israel was getting overconfident and cocky, so God is going to take them down a peg.

Here we see the point of the punishment fitting the crime.

The main purpose of the punishment isn’t justice; it’s teaching. The LORD is treating His chosen people like sons. A father will punish his own children for doing something at the same time that he ignores the neighborhood kids who are doing the same thing.

God’s punishment of Israel is tough love.

But tough love isn’t just for Israel. It’s for us, too.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
— Hebrews 12:5–6

But there’s a subtle and important twist to this. Saying, “The punishment fits the crime,” doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s more like, “The discipline fits the lesson.”

When I was a teenager, my father made me work as a caddie at various golf courses in the Bethesda, Maryland area. Large golf bags weigh about 30 pounds each and I often carried two of them over a miles long golf course. I only weighed about 130 pounds at the time, and it was tough.

But my father didn’t do this to me as punishment. As I would later figure out, he did it because of a family history of scoliosis (curvature of the spine). His scoliosis was so bad, he lost some of the feeling in his left hand. My daughter’s case is severe enough that she has special exercises she does to prevent serious problems.

But my back is as strong as an ox’s. I’m now blessed by the rough treatment I received at the hands of my father. So it is with God and His sons.

He knows what He’s doing, and we don’t.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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