I’m not a patient person. When things are not going my way, I am in a hurry to make things right. My impatience shows up all the time. I get frustrated quickly with a task that I can’t accomplish. For example, I yell at a jar when I can’t get the lid open. I also tend to be impatient with people. I cannot tell you the number of times I have blown it in a restaurant when the waitress did not refill my soda fast enough, or bring a new basket of chips. I am most impatient when I believe a person deserves the consequences to his actions. If a person cuts me off in traffic, my first reaction is usually to see myself as an instrument of the wrath of God to run that guy into the ground. At the very least, I want to find a police officer and get that person arrested. And when I hear news stories of people who have violated the law, I am quick to find that person guilty in my mind and am ready to throw them in jail until they rot, even if the offense was jaywalking.
As you read the Bible, you will find quite a bit of the Bible speaks of God’s justice and judgement on people. God is a righteous God, and He does not condone or tolerate sin. Yet, in almost every prophetic book you will find messages of God’s patience. God does not react quickly in a fit of rage when someone rejects Him. Rather, God is patient with us. His desire is that all would repent and return to Him (look up your memory verse and read it).
God’s patience is demonstrated throughout the Scriptures. He loves His people, and leads them like children. He gives Himself to them, and guides them. Yet, often His people reject His love. God would be justified if He dealt with sin immediately and finally, but He doesn’t. Rather, God begins to issue warnings, calling people back. He sends prophets to plead that their actions are dangerous to them, and their decision to worship other gods leaves them in a state that deserves whatever happens. He even sends smaller acts of judgement into their lives that should wake them up and help them realize that their lives will only work if they repent and return. Sadly, most of the time, they don’t. And God is patient, providing opportunities for people, who deserve the consequences of their actions, to come back to the blessings of God.
In this chapter, Hosea is speaking for God. He begins by comparing God’s people in Israel to a child. At birth, the Father loved them and cared for them, held their hands when they took their first steps, and helped them when they fell. But the older they got, the more they turned from their Father and broke His heart. For years and years, God has been pleading with them to return to Him, but they don’t (v. 7). Now, God would be right if he stepped aside and allowed the Assyrian army to totally destroy them, wiping them from the earth. This is what God did with Admah & Zeboiim, two of the towns near Sodom and Gommorah, which God destroyed. But God’s love for His people and patience continues to shine, giving them the opportunity to return to Him.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am that God is patient. I am thankful because there have been multiple times in my life when God would have been justified to judge me, but He was patient. I am grateful because God leads me with kindness when I deserved His harshness. And I am thankful because I know people who are in rebellion to God, but God is patient with them, and I have hope that they will eventually repent and be changed.