The Longsuffering of God

The Longsuffering of God

When we consider the mission of Elijah, we think about the process of repentance. The Apostle Peter calls our attention to the probability that in the "last days", even many of the servants of God would need repentance. We read:

  1. II Peter 3:5-9
  2. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
  3. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
  4. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
  5. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  6. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

We would like to concentrate at this time on the comfort in this message. We have been told that God intends to judge this world with fire. We have also been informed that God is not slack concerning his promises. He will perform all that he has promised. His word is sure.

Not Willing That Any Perish

Normally, we would not think of this warning of impending judgment as comforting, but there is another part of the message that we should take consolation in. God is not willing that any should perish.

God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would much prefer that wicked men turn from their evil and repent. That explains why he has not already destroyed us all for our sins. That is also why he is providing us all with a little more time to turn again to the Lord, before the judgments come.

In the Days of Noah

Peter has reminded us in this 3rd chapter, that there was another time and another judgment. The flood that destroyed the earth in the "days of Noah" was intended as an example. God does judge His people, and in that day, the judgment was universal and final, for all but the eight people who were saved by water, as a type of our own baptism.

Jesus has also spoken about this same judgment period. We read in Luke 17:

  1. Luke 17:26-30 (New King James Version)
  2. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:
  3. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
  4. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;
  5. but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
  6. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Reserved Unto Fire

Today, the world is reserved for a judgment by fire. A judgment as sudden and unexpected as it was in the days of Noah and Lot.

There is another common denominator between the former judgments and the one that is coming. Peter also tells us that: "the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water" (I Peter 3:20).

For one hundred and twenty years, while Noah and his family were preparing the ark, God waited patiently for others to come to repentance. We are told that Noah was "a preacher of righteousness" (II Peter 2:5).

While they were building, he was preaching to his neighbors. They were provided with ample opportunity to turn from their ungodliness. But it is apparent that in all of that time, none other than his own family listened to the call.

God is Still Longsuffering

Today, wickedness is great in the earth, and Jesus himself has asked the question "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) However, no matter how corrupt the world is, God still is willing to provide time for even a few to return unto Him.

His Goodness Leads Us to Repent

While we wait for the return of Christ, the blessings of God still are being abundantly provided to the children of men. We may not appreciate these blessings as we should. The Psalmist was inspired to write: "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107)

These words appear at least four times in Psalm 107. You would think that we would get the hint. Why are all of these blessings given unto us? To help us in our effort to turn to God. We are told in Romans 2:

  1. Romans 2:4-11 (New King James Version)
  2. Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
  3. But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
  4. who "will render to each one according to his deeds": F5
  5. eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
  6. but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath,
  7. tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
  8. but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  9. For there is no partiality with God.
Praise God for His Goodness

As we wait and wonder about the return of the Lord, let us remember that God does keep his promises. His judgments are only delayed because of His love for His people. He showers us with blessings to encourage us to praise Him. He provides us with more time than we deserve, because He truly wants us to return unto him.

  1. Isaiah 55:7-11 (New King James Version)
  2. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
  3. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
  4. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
  5. "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
  6. So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

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