It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. This Sunday will be our last sermon in the book of Genesis. The last three weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for three weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, and God’s power. This week I want to focus on the patience of God.
Here are several verses on the patience of God: Psalm 145:8 tells us: “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8 -“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Exodus 34:6 -“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” Psalm 86:15 -“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Joel 2:13 -“and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and he relents over disaster.” A.W. Pink said: “Certainly we lose much if we do not frequently meditate upon the patience of God…”
So, as we prepare our hearts for worship today and tomorrow let’s all spend some time thinking about God’s patience. Specifically think about His patience in your own life. John Piper said: “If God’s anger had a hair trigger, his love would not last one day in my life. If rockets of wrath shot out from God’s eyes every time I sinned, I would be blown to smithereens before I got out of bed in the morning. But he shouts on Mount Sinai, “I am slow to anger!” He holds back his wrath by the reigns of his love. He is long-suffering. He is extraordinarily patient. And so he keeps steadfast love. He guards it and preserves it by being slow to anger.”
Similarly Stephen Charnock said: “He is slow to anger, he takes not the first occasions of a provocation; he is long-suffering (Rom. 9:22), and (Psalm 86:15) he forbears punishment upon many occasions offered him. It is long before he consents to give fire to his wrath, and shoot out his thunderbolts. Sin hath a loud cry, but God seems to stop his ears, not to hear the clamor it raises and the charge it presents.”
Think about how amazing Isaiah 65 is that says: “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually,” Then think of Jesus spreading out his hands on the cross as Matthew Henry says: “When Christ was crucified his hands were spread out and stretched forth, as if he were preparing to receive returning sinners into his bosom and this all the day, all the gospel-day. He waited to be gracious, and was not weary of waiting even those that came in at the eleventh hour of the day were not rejected.”
We were all provoking God to His face continually as Isaiah 65 says. This was the first 23 years of my life, just absolutely provoking God to His face everyday. Any of those days during my first 23 years of life, God could have justly ended my life. He could have justly sent me to Hell for eternity, which is where my sins deserved. I am so thankful that God is patient and that He has been incredibly patient with me. As 2 Peter 3 says: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
A.W. Pink writes: “Let us review our own lives. It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct! Now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, and given us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His “longsuffering to us…” (2 Pet. 3:9).”
As we prepare for worship let’s be sure to thank God for His patience with us. Let’s also be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Molly who will lead us in worship. Let’s also pray for Jerry who will lead us in a time of confession. Let’s also be sure to pray for Mark as he preaches the last sermon on the book of Genesis. We will look at Genesis 50 tomorrow. The link to the ESV text is below: