The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…
Instead he is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
2 PETER 3:9
The Bible makes one thing very clear. God’s mercy is everywhere and at all times being displayed, as his wrath is being delayed.
It is in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve that we first see the extent of God’s patience. They could have (should have?) been struck dead, but Adam lived 930 years! Yes, they were no longer welcome in Eden, but still God found ways to express his compassion and patience to them.
Consider the city of Nineveh. God had every reason to wipe out 120,000 lives, but instead sent a revival through a reluctant prophet, and the repentant city existed for another 100 years!
And then there’s the recounting of Israel’s rebellion in Psalm 106. Again and again the people of God rebelled, and again and again God relented, allowing his patience to hold back his wrath, allowing repentance to awaken.
Why does God show patience? Romans 2:4-5 tells us that:
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
What a mystery it is, this “storing up of wrath.” We know from Genesis 15 that God was waiting for the sin of the Amorites to “reach its full measure.” What is that all about? One thing we know, it is an example of his patience.
One thing is clear. God’s ability to display patience is a marvelous attribute. Listen to Steven Charnock on this quality:
“God’s slowness to anger is a greater argument of his power than the creating a world, or the power of dissolving it by a word. In the one, he has dominion over creatures, but in showing patience, he displays dominion over himself.
His power is more seen in his patience than in his wrath. God is above all, so of course, he is able to crush all. But is it not a marvelous wonder that He that is provoked by all does not, on first provocation, rid his hands of all?
The power of God is more manifest in his patience to a multitude of sinners, than it would be in crating millions of worlds out of nothing. (STEPHEN CHARNOCK)
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
This coming Sunday, Kenny Clark will remind us that “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 CORINTHIANS 6:2
May we get caught up in wonder at the patience of our God. And may those who have been keeping Him at a distance see that now is the time to run to Him.