2001-02-12 - God's Patience
Acts 12:21-23 And on an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.
The patience of God is much like that of Niel Soley, who lives in London and noticed a pipe had burst in his garden. He called the water company. His call was answered by a machine telling him to "hang on, someone will be right with you." So, Soley waited, for four hours and 40 minutes. By the time a human being came on the line 5,000 gallons of water had filled his yard and flooded his home.
I say that God's patience is like that of Niel's because God is often patient with us when we are making a mess of things. He is often patient with our shortcomings. However, we can't presume upon His patience. As the above passage points out, God can and sometimes does deal with those who disobey Him swiftly and finally. So while God is often patient with us, we cannot assume that He always will be.
This is a clear call to set our lives and actions in order. God's patience is great, yes, but Scripture also warns us that it is He who controls His patience and not we. If we can recall the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:19-37 we can remember how God dealt with him and his sin. Daniel tells him, 4:26, 27 "And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor …"
For seven years Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal. He ate grass like cattle. His hair grew like feathers on a bird and his nails were like bird's claws (Daniel 4:33) But in the end he turned his eyes toward heaven and his conclusion was, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride." (Daniel 4:37)
Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that God's patience cannot be presumed. But the key is that he learned and we also can learn now, from his experience to never presume upon God or His patience. He is very patient with us, but only because of His mercy toward us and He may, if He so pleases, teach us a lesson sometime. Scripture shows that He has done this in the past and there is no reason for us to assume that His patience will continue with us if we continue in ways that are not pleasing to Him.
"Beware the fury of a patient man." John Dryden, English Poet. For our purposes we could re-quote Dryden's words as, "Beware the fury of a patient God."
Soli Deo Gloria,