The AMI Devotional Blogs from June 25-July 1 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Is God Always Patient?”
Jeremiah 15:6 (ESV)
“You have rejected me, declares the Lord; you keep going backward, so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you— I am weary of relenting.”
The birth of my daughter was an incredibly joyous season, and yet it was also an incredibly tiring season. A new semester of seminary had just begun, and through the midst of classes I had to learn how to be a dad. I have to admit that it was not easy for me to wake up late at night to hear my daughter crying and try to put her back to sleep. She has a pretty loud cry too, so listening to non-stop screaming even as I was holding her was torturous for me. When I reflected upon it later on, I realized how much it weighed on me because it was something that I couldn’t fix right away. She was a real human being and not some robot or machine in which I could find an error and correct it. My patience over the course of weeks and months wore thin. Her cries wore me out. I thought I was a patient man, willing to forgive her for keeping me up at night, but I realized I am definitely not as patient as I thought.
I wonder if this is how God felt towards Judah. Granted, my daughter’s cries are very trivial compared to the offenses that Judah has committed towards God. But is it possible that God’s patience was worn out by His people? When we read passages like this–where God has grown weary of relenting–it seems a bit bizarre to us. Isn’t God supposed to have unlimited patience? Isn’t He supposed to always forgive and always relent from His anger and wrath? I’d like to propose that God is not obligated to any of our expectations. Yes, He is patient beyond our understanding; yes, He is merciful and relents from wrath way beyond our comprehension. However, God can set His own limits where He says, “Enough is enough.” He is not obligated by any means to justify Himself to us.
An important thing to note is that when we look at this passage in its entirety, rather than feeling sorry for Judah, we should actually feel sorry for God. If you look at the history of Israel (or even the history of mankind), you can’t help but feel sorry for God. You’ll see how again and again God shows His mercy and extravagant kindness towards people, yet they take it and turn their backs towards Him. You’ll see how God has relented from judgment time after time, yet Judah doesn’t even recognize how much God has done so in the midst of their repeated offenses towards Him. Our God is indeed a patient God.
Judgment is finally coming to Judah, and it eventually does. May this serve as a reminder for us, that God’s patience with the wickedness in this world will one day run out. Judah is not the only nation to be judged, as we will all stand before God to give an account. May that bring a sense of urgency in how we conduct our lives as children of God.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for your patience towards us. We realize that we are not so different from Judah, and even now, we are prone to rebellion. Lead us so that we may live a life of holiness and godliness. Lead us so that we can move forward towards You, rather than away from You. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 33
Lunch Break Study
Read Revelation 9:18-21 (ESV): By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Question to Consider
- What is the context – what is happening in this vision?
- How come the people did not repent of their works?
- Read Revelation 8:6–10. Judgment (on a worldwide scale) is happening that calls into account all of humanity.
- I would propose that people are so steeped in their sins – their worldview is so distorted, their hearts so hardened that they wouldn’t turn to God even when given the chance to do so. Our will is a powerful thing, and when our mind is set on a course of rebellion, our will can become so hardened that it can hardly respond to God.
In 2 Peter 3:9 – Peter reminds the readers that the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise in His return – but rather that He is patient towards us. Let’s remember God’s incredible patience towards us today – not as a reason to rebel, but as a reason to partner with Him in His redemptive plan around this world.