Notice that although the father loved his rebellious son and was filled with compassion for him, he didn’t rescue him from the consequences of his sinful choices. He patiently waited for the son to “come to his senses” and return home.
Although we must diligently discipline our children when they are young, we can also allow them to learn through suffering the consequences of their actions, especially as they grow older.
The Book of Proverbs states that if we fail to discipline our children, we don’t love them, but hate them:
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
If we don’t teach our children to obey authority, restrain their passions, and consider other people, we do them no favors.
Nevertheless, we must take care that we don’t abuse our authority and thereby, provoke them to wrath (Ephesians 6:4).
Most parents have heard the adage “Spare the rod, and you will spoil the child,” which arises from the advice in the Book of Proverbs to use rebuke and the rod to correct children.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother…. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:15, 17)
When it comes to disciplining children, failure is not an option.
In the First Book of Samuel, the soft-hearted high priest Eli failed to discipline his sons, who had cast off all restraint. Because of this, judgment fell on the house of Eli. He lost the priesthood and his sons died young (1 Samuel 2:34).
The Rod of the Good Shepherd
In the Bible, the rod is a symbol of authority.
The word for rod in Hebrew is not makel, which means stick. Rather it’s shevet, which is translated rod, branch, and scepter. The rod was used by the shepherd to safeguard the sheep.
Every shepherd of Israel had a rod (shevet) and staff that were used to guide, protect, and set boundaries for the sheep. The shepherd used the rod to drive away predators like coyotes and wolves. He didn’t use his rod to beat his sheep.
Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want… Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Yeshua said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
Yeshua, the Good Shepherd, carefully watches over the welfare of His flock. He gave His very life for His sheep.
His rod (shevet) and staff are our comfort when walking through the valley of the shadow of death, as He leads us to the green pastures and still waters of eternal life.
Young children also need this kind of sacrificial shepherding from their parents so that they don’t stray into paths where they could be injured or destroyed.
Marriage and Divorce
Several other laws are discussed in this Parasha, including instructions about burying criminals promptly after execution, restoring lost property, the prohibition of men wearing woman’s apparel, and divorce.
When it comes to marriage and divorce, God considers the marriage bond holy.
In His mercy, however, He makes provision for our weak humanity. Although God hates divorce, in some cases such as adultery, He made concessions.
Despite the ease with which the marital vow in Jewish law can be dissolved, there is a strong sense of community that sustains Jewish couples and families.
Haftarah (Prophetic Portion of Scripture)
“For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord that has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
In this week’s Haftarah portion, God pledges through the Prophet Isaiah His everlasting kindness.
God’s anger is momentary but His kindness is forever!
Just as He swore that the flood waters of Noah would never occur again, He swears that He will always have mercy on His people (Isaiah 54:8–9).
According to God’s law, because of Israel’s stubborn rebelliousness and unfaithfulness to Him, God could have legally opted to divorce His Bride, Israel.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house…” (Deuteronomy 24:1)
God, in His mercy, however, has chosen not to divorce Israel, even though she has at times turned to other gods and idols. Who can fathom this kind of love?
“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.” (Jeremiah 3:14)
What’s more, God has provided an eternal covenant of peace between us through Yeshua’s death on the execution stake.
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)