The Perfect Father Teaches
In Hosea 11, God told more about His dealings with Israel. He said "I taught Ephraim to walk" (verse 3). God does not just love without trying to produce a willing response. His dealings with men have always consisted of helping them to cooperate with Him so that He could bless them. God further said about Ephraim that He tried to help them by "I took them up by their arms." Here His teaching was taking on some action. When they were slow to respond to His love, He took stronger measures. While He was merciful to them again and again, eventually they had to bear the consequences.
Taking them by the arm meant discipline or chastening. Many times God allowed them to suffer plagues, defeat in battle, captivity, or other forms of suffering. Why? To punish them? Perhaps. But all of it was to bring them to the realization of their needs. When they refused to respond to His teaching, He used methods like these.
What about the New Testament heavenly Father? Hebrews 12:6-7 tells us, "For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct?" The Lord teaches by discipline and by inflicting pain. Why? Because he loves.
How does he do it? Sometimes it is by the law of sowing and reaping. (see Galatians 5:7.) People get hurt for their wrong actions. many of the natural laws of life teach us that. You do certain things, and there are certain results. You can't expect to have garden vegetables without planting, hoeing, and harvesting. Our eavenly Father ever shows us that we cannot overlook His laws without loss and pain. Why? Because His laws are for our good.
God chastens people to make them better. He says that "Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are trained by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice." (Hebrews 12:11). Notice that verse 9 says if we subject ourselves to God's chastening, we shall "live." Verse 10 adds "that we may share his holiness." That is the lesson for us.
Sometimes God allows His children to experience various hardships because He is trying to teach not only them but others as well. Once Jesus' disciples saw a blind man and asked, "And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:2-3).
These examples show graduated teaching. First God uses verbal methods, and then He uses stronger methods. All are designed to bring His children to the place where His unlimited blessings can be upon them. That is what we want for our children-not only that our blessing can be on them, but much more, the blessing of God.