What is meant when the Bible talks about rebuking. “Rebuke the devil and he will flee.” The scriptures say to “Rebuke in Jesus’ name”. A liturgical prayer does say, and I think it’s Micheal’s prayer, “…May God rebuke him…” What exactly are we to do in rebuking?
That’s a good question! We get so used to some of these Bible words, we don’t think about what they mean.
I had to go to the dictionary to make sure. And it turned out I didn’t really know.
Rebuke comes from a word that means “to beat.” The obsolete meaning (which would likely be the meaning we want) is “to force back; check.” The more modern meaning is severe disapproval or a sharp reprimand.
So when we rebuke the devil, we aren’t just giving him a sharp reprimand - we’re beating him back.
Rebuke … in the St Michael prayer means we ask God that the Devil may not be allowed to carry out his evil. That God restrain the Devil completely or some what.
In the book of Job, before the Devil was permitted to attack Job, the Devil had to ask God’s permission. For the Devil challenged God that Job was faithful only because Job was blessed with prosperity. And that if Job was deprived of his prosperity, then Job would desert God. So God gave the Devil permission to attack him.
So a rebuke from God would be a withdrawal of God’s permission to tempt a person or a lessening of the strength of the temptation. For the Devil can do nothing against us without the permission of God.
This is why temptations should not always be looked upon as something evil in themselves because it is God allowing us to show our fidelity to him which is how we grow in stature and grace. We shouldn’t seek temptation, but when it comes, God does allow it for our good.