“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.
No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent“ [2 Peter 3:9]
In Jesus’ parable of the lost son, we not only feel the grief in the father’s heart over his son but also recognise his patience in waiting for him to return.
Paul says that three things abide, faith, hope and love, and that the greatest of these is love [1 Corinthians 13:13]. Perhaps one reason why love is the greatest is because we will not need faith or hope in heaven, because we will have received what we believed and hoped for, but love will be there because God is love [1 John 4:8]. He gives faith and hope but He is love. “Love suffers long and is kind” [1 Cor. 13:4]. The NIV says, “Love is patient. Love is kind”.
Our heavenly father is love and He is patient. Not only does He feel grief when we go astray, but He patiently waits for us to turn to Him. The Bible describes patience as long-suffering, and steadfast [unchanging] love, and in the Old Testament we frequently read that God is “slow to anger” [e.g. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8]. In the New Testament, Paul speaks about God’s “kindness and forbearance and patience” [Romans 2:4].
We see God’s patience with Moses when he resisted God’s call to deliver His people from Egypt. We see it again in His not giving up on sinful Israel. Even though we resist Him, He still patiently waits for us to turn back to Him, in just the same way as the father waited patiently for his lost son to return.
In our reading today, we see that God does not want anyone to perish in sin. Even though God must judge and destroy the earth, and then create a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells [2 Peter 3:13], He still patiently holds back that judgment and waits for us to turn to Him and be saved. God will not, however, be patient forever. In Genesis 6:3 He said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.” Judgment must come but He gives us time to turn to Him.
Read Isaiah 30:18. Using this and 2 Peter 3:9 why do you think it is that “the day of the Lord” is so slow in coming?
In what ways have you experienced the patience of God?
Why do you think that God is so patient with us and waits for us to return to Him?