Certain things in God’s Word jump out at us differently as we move through various stages of life. Reading through the prophets makes that extra clear because they were speaking timely messages from God.
Here’s a perfect example: Amos 3:1-2. Following God’s condemnation of Israel and the surrounding nations, he said:
Listen, you Israelites, to the message which the LORD is proclaiming against you! This message is for the entire clan I brought up from the land of Egypt: “I have chosen you alone from all the clans of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your sins.”
Did you hear that? Because they were chosen by God, they would be punished for their sins.
Now here’s why that is special. God had just finished telling the heathen nations that he was going to judge them, usually with fire and destruction. He told Judah and Israel that, too. But here he goes a step further.
The root word translated “punish” here means “to visit, to attend to”. God said that he would “attend to them” because of their sins.
Imagine a police chief who’s son was caught vandalizing a building with a group of guys. When he gets the phone call telling him that his son is down at the station with the group, he’ll probably go right down there and give them all a huge lecture about what could have happened, do they want to spend the night in jail, etc.
But as the other dads and moms walk their sons to their cars, they overhear the chief make one last statement. Looking his son in the eye, he says, “And I’ll deal with you later.”
That’s what God is saying here – “Everyone is in trouble for their sins; everyone will pay. But you and I have a special relationship, and I’ll take care of you personally.”
This is what the writer to the Hebrews said,
And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-11
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will be disciplined personally by God for your sin. If you seem to be getting away with it, watch out. You’re either long overdue (testing the Father’s patience) or God is not your Father, and his final judgment will be far worse than any momentary discipline.