The Patience of God
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. Is. 30:18
The situation. Isaiah records God’s rebuke to His people Israel because of their fear of Assyria, their disbelief of His promises, and their frantic maneuver to help themselves. They had great distress from the Assyrians, and they went to Egypt for help, and did not turn unto the Lord. In vs. 30 the Lord claims that His voice alone was sufficient to overwhelm the Assyrians. Their business, and our business, is always with God. Their unbelief was far more serious than any threat the Assyrians could mount.
Their frantic looking for other sources of aid; and not turning to the Lord is manifested in several ways:
Their rebellious flouting of God’s word. “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Vs. 9-11.
The swelling wall of God’s judgment. “Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit. Vs. 13, 14
What a figure! The wall that towers above them is swelling out, ready to fall. The destruction will be total.
Their continued rebellion and contumacy. “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.” Vs. 15, 16, 17
Their salvation would be in the confidence and rest of faith, for that is the strength of the covenant people. But they loved their own ways. So obstinate were they in their self-assertion, that they threw aside all of God’s promises. He had promised them that five of them would chase a hundred, and a hundred would put ten thousand to flight [Lev. 26:8], but now the judgment of God would cause many of them to flee before a few of their enemies.
The Patience of God revealed. In spite of the swelling wall of judgment; in spite of the holiness of God which demands judgment and retribution, the patience of God is revealed in verse 18, my text: “I will wait.”
a) This waiting is not because He is not aware of their sin and rebellion.
b) This waiting is not because He does not feel their sin and rebellion to the very core of His Being.
c) This waiting is not because their sin does not richly deserve an overflowing of wrath.
d) This waiting is because God is of great wisdom and great power. He is patient, and He will wait.
Why God will Wait. He will wait, simply because He is a God of judgment. To have judgment is to have values and to have reason. God knows what His plan is, and He will not deviate from His plan because of the wickedness of men.
The Greatest of all the Powers of God. This passage speaks patience as the greatest manifestation of the power of God. It is a power greater than that which from nothing flung the worlds into existence at Creation. It is a greater power than that which formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. It is greater than that providence which controls the motions and being of all things and works all things after the counsel of His will.
This is a power greater than that power which brings a man newness of life, and makes him a new creature in Christ Jesus, and greater than that power which keeps the elect in the way of righteousness.
The Power of God’s Patience. In all other manifestations of the power of God, He shows His dominion over the things that He made. In His patience He shows His power over Himself. Patience is the power of self-control.
Why will God wait? Why will He delay the swelling wall of judgment that threatens to overwhelm Israel? He delays because He is a God of judgment. He is in control of His faculties. He is not like we are. He does not allow His holiness to destroy His purpose and plan.
Patience is the perfection of all God’s attributes. God is patient because He is good. He will not allow the wickedness of men, even of His chosen people, to divert Him from His perfect and gracious plan.
This is the power of God’s wisdom and purpose, which rules His power. His wisdom is greater than His power over the universe, for His wisdom rules His power. He can do all that is wise. He can do all that is good. He can do all that is right.
He cannot deny Himself: Even His power will not contradict His wisdom and grace. He is not as we are. He is not swept away by passion; He is not ruled by His righteous indignation; He is not ruled by His feelings of outrage and injustice. He will do all His holy will, and even the wickedness of men will not sway Him from His purposes. He never loses control over himself.
This is the power of self-control.
In all these other powers I mentioned, God rules over that which is external to Him; In the power of His patience, He rules Himself; this is the greatest of all powers.
This power of God is most excellent because is requires sin in order to be exercised. This great excellency in God: this longsuffering and patience would never have been known if there had been no sin in the world. This is the purpose of sin: so that the power of God in mercy and longsuffering might be known. Jesus said, “It must needs be that offenses come.” --Matt. 18:7
The Perfection of God’s Power: Power over Himself.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:31-5:43
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Prov. 25:28
God never commands us to be different than He is. It is His patience and longsuffering that is the pattern for ours. We are to love righteousness and hate evil, just as God does. We are moral and holy people, who must love the law of the Lord and love the way of truth and peace. We are often filled with distress over the wickedness of the ungodly. Be assured that there is something in God of which these feelings of ours are images; the Bible is clear on that. He is angry with the wicked every day. He hates the workers of iniquity. He is perfectly holy and righteous in all his ways.
But let me show you an amazing, wonderful truth.
All of these things are true of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who is God, holy, righteous in all His ways. Everything said of God in the Old Testament is true of Jesus Christ in the New.
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Heb. 1:8-10.
But this is also true:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Phil. 2:7, 8.
Even though the righteous soul of Jesus Christ was repulsed by the unbelief and wickedness of men, yet He condescended to live among us because He subordinated these feelings to the greater good of His plan, the salvation of His people. The longsuffering and patience of God is purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. There was no patience for angels: There was no redemption.
Jesus Christ purchased the whole world. In order to take from the world a precious jewel; the elect whom He loved from the foundation of the world, Jesus purchased for all things. Because of His obedience to His Father in coming to the earth and doing all things that were appointed for him to do:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. John 17:2
This is the reason for the patience of God: the salvation of His people. In the parable of the tares, the servants are forbidden to root out the tares, lest they also root up the wheat. God is no out-of-control judge of all the earth: The omnipotence of His wrath against sin is held in check by the power of His goodness and patience. Jesus tells us to be perfect like our Father in heaven, to not allow our wrath and disgust for evil to cause us to do damage and ruin.
On one occasion, the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven against a city that had mistreated their Master, the Lord Jesus. “Ye know now what spirit ye are,” Jesus said. “I came to save, not to destroy.” –Luke 9:56 Jesus’ righteous soul was more offended than theirs were by the unbelief, but He had a purpose that held His wrath in check until the appointed time.
In this sense, the obedience of Jesus Christ was a price paid for the whole world; in the sense that the whole world belongs to Jesus Christ because of his humiliation and death on the cross. This does not mean that all will be saved, but in the sense that all are the possession of Jesus Christ. He purchased the whole world, so that He could give eternal life to those who had been given to Him [John 17]
In this sense, the apostle could refer to the apostates who denied “the Lord that bought them.” [2 Peter 2:1] Both Ephesians 1 and Philippians 2 show that because of the obedience of Christ all of creation became the possession of Jesus Christ.
In Luke 19, in the parable of the pounds, there are those in the kingdom who refuse to have the king reign over them. At the end, they are slain before the face of the king. This is fulfilled in Revelation 14:10,11: The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
The King, who purchased all things by His obedience to God, will see that the wrath of God is poured upon all His enemies at the last day.
Psalm 2 reveals Jesus Christ as the Anointed King, who is set upon the throne and all authority is to submit to Him. He spoke of this authority when He commissioned the apostles, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” --Matt. 28:18-19
This is the reason for the patience of God. He endures with much patience the evil of men, because of His greater purpose of redemption in Jesus Christ. It was the promise of Jesus Christ [set forth in the latter portion of Isaiah 30] that was the reason that the wall of God’s wrath did not immediately fall upon Israel.
Even though the sins of Israel were abominable in God’s sight and deserved the wall of His wrath to fall upon them, the purposes of God in Jesus Christ delayed that judgment and kept it from being total and final. Because of the election according to grace, God puts up with the wickedness that is in the world, until the last of His people have heard the Gospel and have come to Christ.
Patience is the perfection of the power of God, and is a prime benefit to us of the goodness of God revealed in the death of Jesus Christ.