father discipling child February 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 24, 25

Discipline, Fairness, and Grace

Parents, employers, and other organizational leaders need to exercise discipline, but they want to do it right. They want the consequences for bad behavior to be just, right, and equitable for everyone. They also want to prevent fighting between siblings or squabbles between employees. They want to restore any losses of property or respect. They want to know when to express discipline or grace.

Discipline usually begins with an infraction of the rules that are to be obeyed. Children might suffer some corporal punishment for not keeping their rooms cleaned, not doing their homework, or fighting with a sibling. Employees might be corrected for not showing up on time, inferior work, or causing dissension.

God had many rules for Israelite priests and not without reason. God instructed Aaron the high priest to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning all night with olive oil. It would be a symbol of God's presence within it. Like the Menorah, Jesus is the light of the world and we true believers in Christ are spiritual priests (Revelation 1:5b-6).

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life," (John 8:12, NIV).

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

Are we obeying the command of God to be lights to the world? We must set the example for others to follow.

One of the things that God commanded the Israelites was to give the land a rest from agricultural pursuits every seventh year. This would take affect when they possessed the Promised Land. To a farmer this might seem foolish, but God in his theocratic society said he would bless them for it. Farmers, today, know the value of not wearing out the land and to make provisions for it. Later, before the exile of his people from the land, we find that one of the offenses God had against them was that they did not keep the Sabbaths (2Chronicles 36:21). What are we doing that might incur punishment or bad consequences? How might we be a good example?

Violations of God's commands usually bring discipline. What infraction gets the strictest discipline? The strictest discipline often comes upon those who act against authorities. According to Leviticus 24, the most severe punishment came upon those Israelites who spoke or acted against God. Leviticus 24:15-16:

Say to the Israelites: “If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.” (NIV)

Even God’s very name was to be considered holy and revered. How holy is God’s name to you? Do you curse, using God's name? He takes that very seriously. The punishment inflicted on the blaspheming Israelite, however, does not suggest that we should kill someone who profanes God's name or that we would be killed if we did the same. This was written to Israelites who were subject to a theocratic government with decrees and laws to be obeyed with God as their sovereign. Even so, God may punish Christians for profaning his name, the name by which he forgives their sins, saves them from hell and gives them spiritual life and blessings. As a principle, those who act in rebellion against authorities deserve the strictest discipline. This may be done by taking away major privileges, or even dismissal or expulsion; whatever applies best to the situation. It must not be tolerated!

How do we make corrections with fairness and equity? An old precept is found in Leviticus 24 but may still be of some use to us. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” basically is the concept of equitable restitution (Leviticus 24:17-22). Again, we are not a theocratic society; we have laws in this country by which we must abide, but to a degree we can apply this principle by making the punishment fit the crime. Infractions that are not as severe as previously stated still must be meted out with penalties that are fair, equitable, right, sometimes merciful, and always in consideration for what is best for all involved. The goal is for the offender to learn their lesson, not to render excessive punishment. Discipline that is fair and administered with an even hand usually stops inward fighting. Jesus said in Matthew 5:38-42,

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (NIV)

The emphasis in Leviticus 24 is justice. The emphasis in Matthew 5 is grace. If we wish to discipline with fairness and equity, both justice and grace should exercised as appropriate for each individual and situation.

How do we act with fairness and help those in our circle of society who are poor or otherwise disadvantaged? Should we just express sympathy? Should we show them compassion or show them the door? Should we give handouts and treat them with favor? We can gain some insight on how we should treat the poor, and especially those within our church, by looking at the year of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus 25.

The word “Jubilee” in the Hebrew language literally means “ram's horn,” the blowing of which announced the beginning of that year. Later in the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew text), the word was translated “release” to epitomize the function of this year of celebration (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p. 210). According to Leviticus 25 the year of Jubilee was held every fifty years and started with a trumpet blast of a ram's horn on the Day of Atonement (in late March or Early April). During this year long celebration there was a Sabbath (rest) of the land with no planting, tending, or harvesting, and each person returned to his family property and to his own clan. Each person, whether rich or poor, ate off the land from what could be reaped without planting or tillage. Nothing was to be harvested and sold. If property or people were sold to compensate for unpaid debts, the masters could not keep them permanently, but landowners and masters were to be stewards of God's property and people for all or part of each fifty years. God is the one who retained ownership. How do we view the possessions and positions the LORD has given us? Do we view ourselves as owners or stewards?

The poor people of their land were not to be taken advantage of; they were not to be sold as slaves but serve as indentured servants, and they were to be released in the year of Jubilee. They were not to be ruled over ruthlessly; the masters were to remember that the poor were God's servants, not their slaves. Even foreigners living among the Israelites were not allowed to keep them as slaves in the year of Jubilee. There was release and joy in the year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee for the Israelites can be compared to the Christian Jubilee. By his sacrifice for us, Jesus Christ redeems us and gives us freedom from our slavery to sin to serve our God (more...). Whether rich or poor, we are spiritually all the same. Romans 6:17-18 says,

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)

Romans 6:22 says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life,” (NIV). Praise God!

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)

More instructions about the year of Jubilee are given in Deuteronomy 15:7-15. When poor Israelites were released, the masters were not to be hard-hearted and tight-fisted. They were to be generous to the poor, supply them liberally, and give them a new start in life. They were to think soberly; the masters were also once slaves in Egypt before the Lord liberated them.

How should we then treat the poor today, especially those of the faith? A summary of Luke 4:18-19, Galatians 2:10, and Galatians 5:13-14 reminds us that God forgave our debts and gave us freedom. We need to remember the poor, liberally providing for their needs and giving them a hand up. We are not to selfishly think of ourselves but serve one another. We should do this as stewards of God's possessions and as brothers in Christ, remembering how God redeemed us. That is how we express God's grace.

Lessons to live by:

  • Consider yourself first - are you doing anything against God or man that could incur punishment or discipline?
  • Those who act in rebellion against authorities deserve the strictest of discipline.
  • Discipline that is fair and administered with an even hand usually stops inward fighting.
  • We are stewards of all that God has given to us.
  • The Christian Jubilee can be compared with Christ's sacrifice - he gives us freedom from sin to serve our God. That is God's grace to us. Hallelujah! (more...)
  • We should help the poor and disadvantaged as stewards of God's possessions and as brothers in Christ, remembering how God redeemed us. That is how we express God's grace.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

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