What are the idols in your life? What do you place between you and God? Today we learn that God’s patience and kindness – his forebearance – is meant to lead us to repentance – to lead us to turn from our sin and toward him. What are we waiting for?
5 On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, “I am the Lord your God.” 6 On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. 7 And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
8 “‘But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt. 9 But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites. 10 Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
17 Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the wilderness.
22 But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
44 You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, you people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Ezekiel 20:5-10, 17, 22, 44
Ezekiel 20 tells the story of how God rescued Israel and told them to rid themselves of idols. They did not, yet God still rescued them and brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness. There, Israel again got caught up in their idols, which provoked God’s anger. God, however, showed pity on them and didn’t destroy them.
Rather, he taught their children to not be like their parents and get caught up in idols. The children, though, got caught up in idols just like their parents had, and God was angered again. In his anger, however, God still withheld his hand and showed mercy.
Over and over, God’s people disobeyed him, and over and over God showed them mercy and didn’t destroy them. Why? God says he deals with them in this way for his name’s sake. For the sake of his name.
God desires for his name to be associated with mercy and rescue in the eyes of the nations of the world. There is a balance in the sense of God also showing his wrath toward others, such as Egypt, when it was oppressing Israel in slavery. The image of God in the world was fierce toward opponents, yet merciful toward his children. And so when his children angered him, God was careful to show great forebearance.
God does the same with us today. God shows great forebearance toward us, knowing what we deserve for the things we put in place of him in our lives. and why does he show such great forebearance? As we see below, God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance – to lead us to turn from our sin and toward him.
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished
4 do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Romans 3:15, 2:4
What are the idols in your life? What do you place between you and God? God’s patience with you is intended to lead you back to him. What are you waiting for?