It is hard to grasp God’s patience in the midst of us being broken by other broken people.
- Why does He wait?
- Why does He tolerate sin?
- Why doesn’t He crush rebellion immediately?
The answers have much to do with what we have already explored about God.
- He is holy and does not excuse our sin or other’s sin.
- He is not powerless to save, rescue, or punish – look at the flood or Sodom and Gomorrah.
- He loves us enough to send His Son to die in our place to meet our greatest need – forgiveness.
- This also shows He is merciful and gracious, doing the work of making peace with Himself through the cross and resurrection.
So why does He sometimes punish sin and other times waits to punish sin?
Why does He allows sin to continue, especially when it causes me harm?
Let’s return to the story of Noah and the flood. God watched the wickedness of mankind increase to epic levels over an unknown period of time. He decides to wipe them out and begin again with the person of Noah.
Why Noah? He had found favor in the eyes of the Lord. He was a righteous man, blameless in his generation, who walked with God. By association, those also to be saved were Noah’s wife, his 3 sons, and his 3 daughter’s-in-law. For nearly 100 years Noah built the ark readying it to house him and every land and air creature – male and female, of reproductive age. 2 Peter 2:5 tells us Noah was a herald of righteousness. He didn’t just build, he daily – for years and years – shared with the watchers and scoffers. In the time between choosing Noah to build the ark and the time God shut Him in and the rains began, God gave those around Noah warning of their need to repent of what the Lord would do if they did not. The plans were in motion, but God’s patience was shown through Noah’s words imploring others to repent while building the ark. God’s patience would run out, but His compassion for His creation is seen in the length of His warning.
He did the same with Sodom and Gomorah. He went to Abraham first and shared His intentions based on the deep sin within that city where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived with his family. He did not have to include Abraham, but used it to cause Abraham to plead for the city if even 10 righteous folk could be found in it. He had compassion, but He was also just. Sin that continues hurts God and others. Angels masked as men went in to reveal the depth of the sin there, being almost assaulted by men of the city as attempting to tear down Lot’s door, seeking to have relations with the men inside. Lot saw the depravity of his city. The angels, masked as men, called for him to go get his son-in-laws and any who would listen, because God was going to destroy the cities in the valley due to their sin. Only Lot, his wife and his daughter’s escaped because no one else took the warning seriously. God kept His word, destroyed that city, but saved the righteous within it. He was patient, but His patience had a limit due to His holy, just character and love for the righteous sin tormented.
He worked the story of salvation through sin and sinners, until His Son was born in the form of man – born in a manger in Bethlehem as foretold. He did not overlook the sin, but laid it forward onto the work of His Son – the God-Man who lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and rose again to new life. God does not wish for any to perish, but time will eventually run out. He will return, drawing to Himself those who have repented and come to Him by faith and judging those who have rejected His offer of peace with God – walking their own way.
God’s seeming slowness to rescue and judge is not for our harm or to excuse other’s sin. It is because He has a pre-set plan to save and restore. It is perfect – in its work, its will, and its way. He is never late even when we feel like we are going to die waiting. He is never early because His work is precisely applied for all to clearly see sin as sin and the light of His perfect glory in contrast to it.
The thing to remember in the darkness as we wait for that to be revealed, is that He is with us, never leaving anything to chance, weeping with our hurt, preparing us to be healed so the world can see Jesus in us and He can pour Himself through us to heal others. Nothing wasted, everything transformed, sin punished – either in Christ or through eternal separation from God. Patience is a hard word, but God is patient with us as we learn who He is and trust Him to grow us into Godly women through it.
Friday we will look more deeply into how His patience with us, can help us have patience with Him, ourselves, and others on our healing journey. Come back and see what the Lord has for you there!
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