Longsuffering and Merciful
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
With the current condition of the world (a reflection of what has always been so from the sin of Adam), it is amazing that God continues to allow this old world to stand. When we think about all that goes on around us (and we see but a fraction of the world's evil), we are led to marvel that God does not say, "Enough! I will tolerate no more."
For a few thousand years now the history of man has been a history rejecting God. Beginning with Adam and continuing through every age of our history, each period of time is a story of dismal failure. True, there have been a few Abrahams and Noahs along the way, but the vast majority of mankind has "refused to have God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28). As Paul looked at this same thought, he concluded (with the prophet) in Romans 3:10ff: "There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable." If this be so (and it is), why does God allow the world to continue? This is a question worth our consideration. And yet the very condition of wickedness that abounds on every hand but magnifies and declares the answer: it is the longsuffering and mercy of God that continues to grant lost men and women time to repent and turn to Him before Judgment.
In Noah's day this tenderness of God toward the lost was declared in that He permitted Noah so many years of preaching to the lost while the ark was being built. Genesis 6:3 declares, "My Spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he also is flesh: yet shall his days be a hundred and twenty years." With all the wickedness abroad in the land in Noah's day, God yet granted men 120 years with Noah's preaching to remind them that they should turn to God. You know the sad conclusion: man did not repent and God destroyed that ancient world.
By the mercy of God, Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary that men might be freed from the guilt and burden of sin. The church was established so that we might live in a saved relationship with God and serve Him. Yet men continue to spurn the truth and corrupt pure worship to this day. All the while, God's mercy continues. We are told that God "hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Friends, we are moving inexorably toward that Day of Judgment. It is fixed and sure. The intervening days, wherein the gospel is preached around the world and the church is the "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15) declares God's longsuffering and mercy. Right now, today, you have time and opportunity to repent and turn to God. With the condition that the world is in, God could righteously condemn it today, this moment. But because He loves and wants to see none lost (our text, 2 Peter 3:9), God spares the world, entreating man to turn to Him.
Friend, God is surely longsuffering and full of mercy. But remember that God's spirit "will not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3). The Day of Reckoning will surely come, just as the rains descended in Noah's day. Will you ignore God's mercy? Will you outlast His patience? Will you refuse to obey the gospel?
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