We’re talking here about a penalty for wrong doing that falls along a spectrum of hard work to outright abuse and victimization. What does the Bible say about this? There are actually many verses that talk about punishment, so let’s take a sampling and see what they have to say.
There is definitely a theme of God punishing the unjust. While He says that his blessings are for those who love him and his curses are for his enemies, we see mention often of curses for those who put themselves outside of his Law. Some examples of this can be found in Isaiah 13:11 “And I will punish the world for [their] evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”
Evil, which is violating the Law of God, deserves punishment. This is clear. This is why when the Israelites abandoned God’s Law they found themselves being punished.
It is true, as I point out in another article about this issue, that for them this consisted of the removal of God’s protection and was more in line with the natural consequences not being blocked-the natural consequences being that the wages of sin is death.
But all it took was to turn back to God and His Law and God stated over and over again His promise to hear them and heal their land; again and again He has returned them from captivity when they have returned to Him. In our own lives we may see this too. While God does not remove His relationship and salvation He sometimes withholds His protection so that we endure the natural consequences of our choices.
This is always AFTER He has taught us, AFTER He has patiently corrected and encouraged us, AFTER He has provided a way of escape from the temptation, and AFTER we have willfully chosen to violate His Law. I would argue that we can look at the lives of believers and also see that new believers have the natural consequences of their sins blocked far more often that more mature believers whom God expects to know better. When you are chewing on the meat of God’s Word and stumble in an area of milk you can expect to suffer the natural consequences of your poor choice.
So is it ever the job of a parent to punish a child? We certainly have a passage in Hebrews 12 that says: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” This passage is very problematic to translate and study because of several issues discussed more in my article about Hebrew 12, but for now let me simply say that the author of Hebrews is here quoting a passage from Proverbs. As you study the translation of this verse between different versions of the Bible you see how problematic this particular verse is as many do not contain the word “scourge”. He is quoting the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the OT (and even though the word in question from the Septuagint has been translated as “scourge” in the OT it appears as “punishes”), but in the Hebrew original version the verse actually reads, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”