Like a Father and SonAugust 13, 2014 - 5:00 am
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. — Deuteronomy 8:5
The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 49:14–51:3.
One of the greatest things about becoming a grandparent is that you get all the perks of parenthood but none of the drawbacks. We grandparents have put in our time. Now we enjoy our grandkids, and when they get too tough to handle, we give them back to their parents. Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. But discipline them? That’s a parent’s job!
While many picture God as a grandfatherly figure with a long white beard, this week’s Torah portion reminds us that God relates to us not as a grandparent, but as a parent. We read: “ . . . as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.” Notice that it doesn’t say “as a grandfather disciplines his grandson.” No – God treats us like His children. That means that He loves us endlessly, but He also will discipline us when necessary.
It would be much more fun to be the “good guy” all the time. It puts quite a damper on things when you have to punish a child in the middle of a family outing or take away a privilege that your child really enjoys. However, as any parent knows, love means not only giving, but taking away. Our job isn’t to make sure that our kids have a good time; it’s to teach them right from wrong so that in the long run, they can have a good life.
I once read about a father who was struggling with parental discipline. He had instructed his child to call home whenever he reached a friend’s house to confirm that he got there okay. As the boy got more comfortable with his independence he became remiss in calling his parents. He forgot once and the parents overlooked it. The second time, the father felt that he had to do something. He picked up the phone to call his son and scold him, but just as it began to ring, he changed his mind and hung up to give his son some more time. A few seconds later, the boy called his father and said, “I almost forgot to call you but then the phone rang once and I remembered!”
As the father hung up the phone he wondered, “How often do we think of God as One who waits to punish us when we step out of line? I wonder how often He rings just once, hoping we will phone home.”
Friends, remember that God loves us like a parent and disciplines like a parent – only as a last resort and always out of love. As we read in Proverbs 3:12, “ . . . the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”