When God's Longsuffering Ends

“Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thessalonians 2:16).

One of the attributes of God is that He is longsuffering. At least ten times in the Bible He is said to be longsuffering, plus at least six times when He is described as slow to anger.

But there are limits. God endured over 1500 years of increasing wickedness in the antediluvian world before He finally said: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3); then He still waited another 120 years before He sent the world-destroying deluge to cleanse the earth.

He delayed giving the promised land to Abraham and his seed for four hundred years, because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:13–16), but the command eventually was given to Moses and Joshua to take the land and destroy them all (Deuteronomy 20:17).

In the case of the Jews about whom Paul was writing in our text, they not only had slain their prophets and crucified Christ (see I Thessalonians 2:15), but now were trying to keep the gospel of Christ from being brought, not just to themselves, but even to the Gentiles, so their iniquity, like that of the Amorites, was almost full. Not many years hence, their temple and city would be destroyed and their people scattered all over the world for 1900 years.

One wonders how much longer God will be patient with America. Our schools, our government, our whole society seems ever more determined to stamp out the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and soon God must visit His wrath upon us as well. Today, however, “the Lord is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). His offer of salvation and eternal life is still freely available to each individual who will repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. HMM

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