The Power of God's Patience

Around 2000 years before Jesus was born, God promised Abraham: (Genesis 12:3) "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

Take a moment to note something in God’s ancient promise to Abraham.  God said “all families” would receive a blessing because of Abraham’s faith in God.  Not just the nation of Israel, but all families.  Not just a handful of elite people mysteriously selected by God, but all families.  Not just the Jews of Jesus’ lifetime, but all families.

There was a moment when the Israelite foremen said to Moses, (my paraphrase) “I hope you are satisfied!  The Egyptians hate us now!  Because of what you have done, the Egyptians will kill us Israelite slaves!”  (Read Exodus 5:21-23.)  However, the patient God endured the faithlessness of the Israelite foremen.

There was a moment when escaping Israel was caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army.  They said at that moment in Exodus 14:12: “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”  However, the patient God endured the contempt of a terrified people.

There was a moment when a bewildered Israel insulted God by reverting to idolatry.  In Exodus 32:4 they even credited an idol for God’s act of deliverance.  Yet, a patient God endured the insult of His people.

There was a moment when a faithless Israel was certain the Canaanites would defeat them and make their wives and children slaves.  See Numbers 14:1-4.  Yet, a patient God continued toward Christ in spite of the faithlessness of Israel.

The examples are numerous: Israel’s desire for a king; the division of  Israel; the idolatry of both Judah and Israel; some of the horrendous situations the prophets wrote about; the rejection of Jesus.  Yet, every time our patient God persevered.

To Christians John wrote these words in 1 John 1:5-10: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Thank You, God, for Your patience.  Without Your patience expressed in the forgiveness of Your mercy and grace, we would have no hope.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin article, 8 December 2005

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