In honor of Father’s Day, I have been thinking about some of those classic lines our fathers said to us over the years. When riding in the car, how many of us heard our fathers ask, “Do I need to pull this car over?” Maybe you and your siblings were arguing, and he would threaten, “Don’t make me come back there!” Dads don’t have to say what they are going to do when they pull the car over or when they come back there; it is understood. If he pulls over, punishment will soon follow.
God, the Righteous Father, gave similar threats to His people. Most notably through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings 23:2, KJV).” Through Moses God promised to “visit the iniquity” of those who hated Him (Exodus 34:6-7, Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 5:8-10). When God promises to come for a visit, He isn’t coming for dessert and coffee. He doesn’t need to describe exactly what will happen when He comes; it is understood. When God comes to visit people because of their iniquity, punishment will soon follow.
Yes, God is a God who is rich in mercy and slow to wrath, but there is a time for everything, and that includes discipline and judgment. Just like a good Father, God first warns His children of the consequences of their rebellion, so they cannot be caught off guard when God “comes back there.” We have been warned, so the ball is in our court. If we do not want God to come to us in discipline, then we simply need to live in accordance with His instructions for us.
The good news is that God’s corrective action is to make us better people, not to simply inflict pain or suffering. The hardships He may bring into our lives are meant to get our attention, to steer us back into right living. When we repent, God relents. When we stop doing whatever caused Him to visit us in discipline, the discipline subsides.
Not every visit from God is for judgment. In Revelation 3:20 God says He stands at the door and knocks, and if anyone lets Him in He will come in and dine with them. This kind of visit is a warm one between friends. Jesus wants to have a relationship with us, so if we let Him in now, He won’t have to come in judgment later.