Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Matchless Patience

As I sit and watch the world unravel with astounding speed, even though I know the answer, I often find myself asking God why He didn't end man and his wickedness long ago.  I am sure I'm not alone in pondering the question.  After all, as I pointed out in my last post, man is wretched, depraved, wicked, and often evil beyond our imaginations.  His ability to conjure up new ways to prove that assessment is endless.  If you disagree, I strongly suggest you go back into the Word of God and examine yourself with a microscope.  I'm confident you will find the microbes of sin and debauchery embedded deeply in every fiber of your being.

Not only was all mankind affected by the disobedience of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), but all of creation.  Imagine Yahweh's delight in fashioning every creature that creeps, crawls, walks, swims, and flies in, on, and over the earth.  After He formed Adam from the dust, God gave Him the responsibility of naming each one, and giving Adam "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  It was Adam's responsibility to be a good steward over all of God's creation, including the plant life that was created to provide food, both for the animals and also for Adam.  (Genesis 1:11-31)

But when the wiles and cunning of the serpent, Satan, convinced the man and woman God had created to disobey, all creation suffered a mortal blow.  Death came upon man and all that had been created, turning the perfection of Eden into a world fallen from grace, and bringing condemnation down upon Adam and Eve who tried to cover the shame of their nakedness from Yahweh with leaves (Genesis 3:7).

What happens next is not often considered, other than the fact that God did it.  He turned to the animals He had so lovingly formed, killed some, then fashioned garments with their skins to cover Adam's and Eve's nakedness (Genesis 3:21).

I've always wondered if it didn't grieve the LORD to have done so.  When He created the heavens and the earth and all that was in and upon them, He saw and declared that "it was good." (Genesis 1:24-25)  In other words, He viewed everything He had done with His own hands and the breath of His mouth as perfection.  Each "living creature" was created with love we are unable to comprehend.   In my mind, it only stands to reason that, when He had to take the lives of some of them to mitigate the damage Adam and Eve had done, the result couldn't have been anything less than sorrow for His creation. Although God's omniscience knew it would happen, they, too, would have to die.

What the secular world calls "nature," bears the scars of the fall.  Consider that the animals God created were originally vegetarians (Genesis 1:29-30).  After the fall of man, man and some animals became carnivores and began to turn on each other, fighting for position at the top of the food chain.  For those of us with tender hearts, it can be disturbing to watch that cute, fuzzy animal become prey for another creature.  Often, the brutality of the hunt causes me to have to turn away and settle for the explanation that they, too, have to eat to survive.

If it were not for Yahweh's grace given to both man and all of creation, the earth and its inhabitants would have succeeded in bringing utter ruin.  God holds together every atom of this universe.  Without His constant and faithful stewardship over His entire creation, mankind's depravity and wickedness would abound.

When I consider the absolute holiness and righteousness of Almighty God, and recall accounts of Him pouring out His anger on men and justly giving them what they deserve, I have to marvel at His matchless patience.

"Grace is the free favour of God, the undeserved bounty of the ever-gracious Creator
against whom we have offended, the generous pardon, the infinite, spontaneous
loving-kindness of the God who has been provoked and angered by our sin, but who,
delighting in mercy, and grieving to smite the creatures whom He has made, is ever
ready to pass by transgression, iniquity, and sin, and to save His people from all the
evil consequences of their guilt." ~   Charles Spurgeon

As undeserving as we are, but as deserving as we are of His wrath, God's plan of salvation has not yet been brought to completion.  There are still those whom He chose for His Son Jesus Christ, before time began, who have not yet been drawn to receive the gift of pardon and eternal life.   There is still work to be done for His glory and His Namesake.  In the meantime, God will delay the ultimate justice He has sworn to bring until the work is finished to His satisfaction.

"What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"  (Romans 9:22-24)

Abounding grace and matchless patience.

That's the answer to my question at the beginning of this post.  That's why God, in His sovereign wisdom, delays the inevitable.

That's why He is God and I am not.

While He tarries, all creation must endure what was brought about in the beginning by the first man and woman.

 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.   For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.   For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.   For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.   And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.   For in this hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?   But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."  (Romans 8:18-25)

With the Holy Spirit's help, we, too, are given degrees of patience.  It certainly doesn't equal the patience of our Creator.  But as long as we cling to the hope that has been so graciously gifted to us, the little patience we do have is sufficient to see us through whatever the world brings next.

Almighty God is sovereign.  He is full of Grace.

And thankfully, His patience with His creation is matchless.

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