President’s Challenge – The Patience of God

NBBI President, Matthew Little
NBBI President, Matthew Little

As human beings we can prove to be incredibly impatient. If we are forced to endure a lineup at a drive through for any more than a few minutes we are often ready to blow a gasket. Our world has been built for speed and the poor soul who is taking life in stride and plodding away better move over or get run over. As Christians that bear the mark of our Creator, this attitude makes us so much unlike God.

This reminds me of the student sitting in a Bible college chapel who, after looking at the order of service, groaned out loud. The middle-aged lady next to him asked what was the matter and the student replied, “It’s the preacher, he is one of my teachers. He is boring and dull. His classes seem to go on forever.” “Oh,” said the woman. “Do you know who I am?” The student looked at her and said that he didn’t. “Well,” said the woman, “I’m the preacher’s wife!” The student then said faintly, “And do you know who I am?” “No,” said the professor’s wife. “Hallelujah,” said the student.

What is patience? One meaning is “the capacity for calm, self-possessed waiting.” The patience of God is clearly on display in Genesis 5 in the most powerful way. Verse 21 tells us that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, begat Methuselah. This fact hardly seems life-altering but Enoch named his son Methuselah meaning “when he dies, it shall come.” What would come? The flood. You see Methuselah became the symbol of God’s patience. The second Methuselah was born, a countdown began to judgement. Every day of Methuselah’s life was an extension of God’s mercy and patience. His birth marked the promise of doom, yet he lived to be the oldest man who ever walked the planet (969 years). Every beat of Methuselah’s heart reminded man that God is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The one man in history that God chose to symbolize His impending judgement lived longer than any other human.

“And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgement: blessed are all they that wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

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