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Jan 26, 2020

Attribute of God: Patience

Not all books on the attributes of God have a separate section or chapter on the patience of God, but Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) in his massive classic The Existence and Attributes of God dedicates 52 pages to the subject.  Repeatedly in the Scriptures we see the description of God that is found in Exodus 34:6;7.  This is, by the way, God's own description of Himself.

When Moses was on Mt. Sinai, conversing with God the following account is given.  "The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.'"

The phrase 'slow to anger' is a reference to God's withholding His final judgment from rebellious sinners.  God's patience is as "that power of control which God exercises over Himself, causing Him to bear with the wicked and forebear so long in punishing them" (Arthur Pink, The Attributes of God, 62).

God does bring final judgment on the wicked, but only after a period of mercy, beckoning them to repentance.  "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed."

That God is patient before He metes out His righteous judgment displays His power of control and His willingness to forgive.  In light of God's patience, to reject His mercy is to increase the penalty due on the great judgment day.