Let's look at the longsuffering nature of GOD.
The word "longsuffering" appears 16 times in the NKJV translation.
The word "patient" appears 12 times.
"Patience" is found 25 times.
The Hebrew word translated "longsuffering" means "longsuffering patient, slow to anger."
GOD is slow to get angry. In other words, when we sin He is immediately displeased and disappointed, but He is not immediately angry with us. He gives us time to realize our mistake or rebellion and opportunity to repent.
Consider the following examples from the Scriptures:
4 So [Moses] cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
(Ex. 34:4-7 NKJV)
18 ‘The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’
(Num. 14:18 NKJV)
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
(Ps. 86:15 NKJV)
From these verses we see that GOD's mercy is closely tied to His longsuffering. GOD is merciful toward us because He knows we are weak.
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
(Lam. 3:21-23 NKJV)
1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God
(Rom. 2:1-5 NKJV)
It is GOD's will that each person receive salvation. That's why He doesn't immediately put an end to us when we deserve death.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
(2 Pet. 3:9 NKJV)
Perhaps GOD's longsuffering can best be seen in His dealings with Israel. Eze. 20 summarizes this for us:
- GOD made an oath to them and made Himself known to them in Egypt (Eze. 20:5)
- They rebelled against Him (Eze. 20:8)
- GOD was angry and wanted to destroy them, yet He decided against it for His Name's sake, so that His Name wouldn't be profaned by the Gentiles (Eze. 20:9)
- GOD gave them His Sabbaths (Eze. 20:12), but they rebelled in the wilderness (Eze. 20:13)
- Again GOD decided not to wipe them out because of His Name's sake (Eze. 20:14)
- He brought Israel into the land and they provoked Him to anger with their sin (Eze. 20:28)
- So now His longsuffering was exhausted and He had to punish them (Eze. 20:33-44)
15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.
(2 Chron. 36:15-16 NKJV)
GOD's suffering with us is long, but it is not infinite.
Eventually He does have enough.
Let's not be people who push GOD to tempt Him to destroy or punish us. Instead, let's be quick to listen with hearts that are tender to receive correction when needed.