Patience Balancing Justice and Mercy

Why is God so slow to deal with those who promote evil and turn against the love of God around us?  It turns out that in God’s wisdom, the interplay of justice and mercy have led him to be patient with us on the earth.  God desires for everyone to turn toward him…

1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2Peter 3:1-9

God hasn’t destroyed the world since the great flood, yet the same word out of God’s mouth which caused creation from the water and the destruction at Noah’s time through the water will bring about the future destruction of this earth and the heavens.  All will pass away to make way for the second coming of Jesus and the new heaven and new earth of eternity.

Scoffers will mock and ask when this day will be, perhaps in parallel to Noah’s time, yet God is not fazed and will not change his timing.  Time is like a blink of the eye to God in light of eternity.  And God is not quick in our eyes in bringing about the promised end.

In his timing, though, he is not slow in keeping his promises.  This is one of the most beautiful sections of all Scripture: “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  God is being patient.  There are days when we are more than ready for him to come.  And God will not push up the timeline.  To do so would violate his lovingkindess and faithfulness to us.

God’s wrath against the ungodly will come.  He will deal once and for all with those who terrorize and abuse and hold hostage and those who refuse to acknowledge him as Almighty God.  He will take care of them.  Yet that justice will not come at the expense of those toward whom God wishes to show mercy.

Why won’t God deal swiftly with those who do harm in our world today?  Because he is showing patience and mercy in wanting everyone to come to repentance and turn toward him.  Today someone will turn to God.  Tomorrow someone will turn to God.  If God ends it all at this moment, those people will miss their chance to come to faith in God through Jesus Christ.  And so God is patient.

This is a hard teaching, for surely God could come up with a way to accomplish both… yet we do not see the whole picture.  We do not see what God sees, and we must trust that his way is the best, most just, and most merciful path for this world…


Marc Kinna

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