The subject of discipline, punishment and forgiveness is a major undertaking, especially when thinking about how it relates to God and His Holy Word. There are many that view God as a "cruel taskmaster" that was running amuck, destroying, punishing, etc., but that is just not borne out in the Bible at all. God was proven to be merciful time and time again, throughout His Word! The following is an attempt at my "defending God" and pointing out (in a thumbnail sketch) His nature, and His love for humanity!
The LAW in the Old Testament was to identify sin! When we identify something that is dangerous or harmful, by nature, we tend to stay away from it (think snakes!). Sin, however, is a part of our human nature, or the fallen nature of man. The law was to "identify" sin, so as to avoid it! Neither the law, nor the sacrifices of the Old Testament could forgive sin. Only a perfect sacrifice could forever forgive sin.
Hebrews 10:1-4 (KJV) 1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of sins every year. 4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. This is why DISCIPLINE is so important!!!!! The law was the identifying of sin, and the punishment brought about by the law was the deterrent from sin! There has to be consequences from wrong-doing, otherwise there is no incentive to "do the right thing", and this is in every aspect of life. It is interesting to note that throughout the Old Testament there is not a huge number (if any) of examples of those that committed adultery being "stoned". David, for example...when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (and then on top of that, had her husband put in a position to be killed to cover it up) committed at least two sins worthy of death under the law, but God "put away" his sin in 2 Samuel 12:13, so he was not "stoned". The consequences of his sin, however, followed him to his grave!
THE LAW STATED THIS!!! Exodus 20:14 (KJV) Thou shalt not commit adultery. Leviticus 20:10 (KJV) And the man that committeth adultery with [another] man's wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Solomon in all of his wisdom said that adultery was a lack of understanding, and was destructive to ones own self!!!
Proverbs 6:32 (KJV) [But] whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he [that] doeth it destroyeth his own soul. It is very interesting that when the men brought the woman to Jesus, who was caught in the very act of adultery, they DID NOT bring the man!!! Jesus, being GOD IN THE FLESH, gave the woman the same opportunity that David was given when he sinned, in that she did not receive the punishment laid by the law. There was a "putting away" of sin in the Old Testament, but not the complete forgiveness/removal of sin, as in the New Testament. The removal/forgiveness part could only come when there was a perfect sacrifice. That's what Jesus (God robed in flesh) was to become, and the whole purpose of his existence. Hebrews 10:10-12 (KJV) 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Jesus became the propitiation, or atonement/atoning sacrifice for the sin of all mankind!!!
Romans 3:25 (KJV) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (G2434 & G2435 Atonement, an atoning victim) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 1 John 2:1-2 (KJV) 1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation (G2434 & G2435 Atonement, an atoning victim) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 4:10 (KJV) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (G2434 & G2435 Atonement, an atoning victim) for our sins. It is also very interesting to note that in the Old Testament, God referred to His backsliding people (the Hebrews/Jewish people) over and over again as adulterous, or committing adultery, but he never "wiped them out", which would have been the same result of stoning, if you will. They did face punishment many times, and faced consequences for their actions many times, but He punished them MORE for their lack of faith and disobedience than He did for "adultery"... The punishment for the woman caught "in the very act" in the New Testament was self-imposed...she had to live with the reputation that she imposed upon herself for the rest of life, but Jesus did not condemn her for her sin, with the admonishment to "go and sin no more"...one must wonder what happened to the man on the other side of this relationship...he could have received the same forgiveness, or "putting away" of sin had he been brought to Jesus, but he did not, as far as we know, ever receive forgiveness of sin, and still had to live with whatever reputational damages that were done...
Jesus Christ did not come to do away with the law, but rather to fulfill the law, as he stated in Matthew 5:17. He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, to once and for all of time, forgive our sins. This does not, however, release us of the consequences of our sin. We have to live with the "reputation" or "scars" of the sins committed in our our lives...case in point, when one does "commit adultery", this is a sin that can be forgiven, there is no question about that; however, this sin can and will destroy marriages, families, the trust of our spouse, trust in the community, and more. These are consequences and are self-imposed, not "punishment" by God. When we choose to commit sin, we also choose to set consequences that will follow that sin, the affects of that sin, if you will.
This is where discipline comes into play, both for us, and for the people that we are tasked with raising (our children), if you will. The world is quickly coming to a point that many, many people do not believe in discipline, or consequences for their own actions, and literally hate anyone who DOES believe in discipline and consequences. Many people are "choosing" lifestyles that are anti-God, anti-nature, anti-societal, and hate the fact that others WILL NOT accept them "as they are, or as they choose". This is the reason that there are States that are now choosing to not punish people for crime/criminal behavior, allowing people to destroy other's personal property, and I could go on and on.
The reality is that IF you and I have been given the task of raising children, we also have a responsibility "to train them up" so that when they grow up, they will know the difference of right and wrong, and will also know that there will be consequences to their actions, whichever they choose. (Proverbs 22:6) Discipline is a fact of life, or should be, and we have a responsibility to say "NO", or to meet out punishment as is fitting to the situation. If we don't we are not doing our job for the sake of our children. The reality is that we were not tasked with being a "friend" to our kids, but we are tasked with raising up a responsible adult, who will someday do the same with their children, IF we do what God called us to do!
Discipline will save a lot of heartache down the road, both for us and our children, and also for the world that they will someday serve. When a society lays aside discipline for friendship and acceptance, and blurs the lines of right and wrong, then there can be nothing but heartache and destruction of basic rules and values to follow, and the result is pure chaos and destruction.