Understanding the Patience of God

Malachi 3

There are people throughout time who have looked at the suffering of good people and the “fulfilling” lives of evil people as evidence against the justice and mercy of God. For an example, look at conditions in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe is one of the richest men on earth but his people are starving and are tortured just to keep him in power. Where is God’s justice there? In Malachi 2:17, the people asked the question, “Where is the God of justice?” The question today is often, “Would a just God let these things continue? Why isn’t He doing anything?”

Don’t be arrogant

In Malachi 3, the people’s words were arrogant. This is because they assumed that they knew what God was doing.

  1. Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord… (2:17)
  2. There is no profit in serving God… (3:14)
  3. The doers of wickedness test God and escape… (3:15)

Because God did not act when and how they expected Him, they were saying that He was not doing anything except blessing the wicked. It should go without saying that we cannot think like God. Isaiah 55:8 tells us, My thoughts are not your thoughts…. Most people today are not so arrogant as to think that they can think the same way as men like Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison or Alexander the Great. But there are many people who are arrogant enough to think that they can think on God’s level! How stupid.

We do not know what He is preparing. All we know is what we see and what God has told us (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). That leaves us in the dark about a lot and we need to understand that and just trust that God knows what He is doing. After all, He has proved over and over again that He does know what He is doing.

Fear God

Give God what you owe Him. Because the people were arrogant about knowing what God was doing, they did not fear Him. This led them to stop giving their tithes. God told them they needed to repent and then He would bless them. Part of their problem was that they did not recognize that they were sinning. They looked at the wicked prospering and saw that they were not and so they saw God as unjust. They did not realize that they were also wicked! How often do we do the same? We look at all the wrong things done by others but forget to examine ourselves.

Encourage each other

When those who did fear God heard Him they spoke to each other. The only thing that I can think that they were saying is words of encouragement to continue doing right or to repent. God noticed them and promised that they would be rewarded one day. How would like God to notice you and reward you? We need to speak to each other and help each other get to Heaven.

Look to Jesus

The reason God gave for them to be patient and wait for justice is that He was going to come and take care of everything. If God had a brought a judgment on all wicked men then, Jesus would have never come to present a sacrifice for sins. There would be nobody left.

Jesus would bring judgment on the nation and cleanse it. It took about 400 years for Him to come after this prophecy. That is about 400 years longer than these people thought it should have taken. God’s justice won’t always happen in our lifetime. Our patience often needs to last beyond death — Revelation 6:9-11.

Christ’s sacrifice is the epitome of the justice and mercy of God. When you are demanding justice from God, don’t forget that you are wicked too. The reason that God sent Jesus was to carry out justice while being merciful to us — He paid the penalty for our sins. Thinking about Jesus should make us realize that God has plans that are far beyond our comprehension. He had this planned since the beginning (promise to Eve). It took thousands of years for His plan to happen. Are we so arrogant as to think that we could plan like that?

Since in the plan of Jesus, we can see the mercy of God, we must know that God is still merciful. Malachi 3:6 tells us, I do not change. In 2 Peter 3, we see that people had not changed over 400 years. Verse 4 — Where is the promise of His coming?. Peter points out that they were wrong that everything had continued the same way since Creation. They forgot about the Flood. Verse 9 says that God has not brought judgment because of His mercy and patience. We should be thankful that He has given us a chance to repent and not begrudge those He is giving a chance to now.

We are no different from the people in Malachi’s day. We want to see justice done and we want to see it done now. We forget that if that is how God worked then we would have perished too. We forget that we cannot think like God thinks and that He does have a plan for justice. He is coming. Let’s be ready, fear Him, and encourage one another and so much the more as we see that day approaching.