Monday, September 19, 2016

NOT DONE YET

Thank God that He is not done with me yet and probably never will be. He is not done with you and the world either. If this is not the best example of Long-suffering, I don't know what is.

Have you ever seen someone exasperated? Have you ever seen someone exasperated, but with The Patience of Job (as the saying goes)? There is a sigh or blowing of air out of the nose, a sinking of the shoulders, a rolling of the eyes - then a granting of grace to the offender because you or The Lord in this case has long-suffering.

This is the mental picture I want to portray to you. In the Old Testament the original Hebrew word for Long-suffering was a compound word (two words that form one) - Arekaph (aw-rake-af). Arek (aw-rake) means long, patient and slow. Aph (af) means nose or breathing passionately.  So, when you combine the two and get Arekaph or Longsuffering - the meaning becomes something like....long, patient, slow, passionate breathing that steers clear of anger. Ever heard of "taking a deep breath and backing away from a situation"? Here is Biblical, Godly support for doing just that! I kinda liken it to God's counting to 10 when I mess up. I'm sure my guardian angel has had just a few moments like these too.

So, the O.T. accounts for The Lord being described in this manner are Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, and Jeremiah 5:15. When I switched over to the New Testament the Greek word is Makrothumia meaning patient or patience. The first two instances I came to were Romans 2:4 and 9:22 and both declared God as patient. After these passages, the occasions they occurred dealt with patience as.......a fruit of The Spirit (Gal.5:22), a charge toward one another (Eph. 4:2), something Paul prayed for with a group of believers (Col. 1:11), something to clothe ourselves with, especially being God's chosen people (Col. 3:12) and Christ Jesus as having "immense patience" with Paul, the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16).

Looking back through Biblical history, I see a few times, at least, where God's Long-suffering engaged to save humanity. Noah and the flood. Moses and the rebellious Hebrew people. Jesus even got to a point where He responded to their lack of faith and said - “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" (Matthew 17:17) However, He persevered with His Father's Plan and again showed another example of God's long-suffering - His own death for us upon The Cross.

Not only did Jesus rise from death, hell and the grave three days later, He also continued His Program of Patience. His Long-suffering continued in the underworld, afterlife, and in particular a place where unbelievers were held - Sheol Hades (dry and barren spiritual world). Paul in his letter to the believers in Ephesus attests to this visit -“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) (Ephesians 4:8-10) What was He doing there? Being Just and/or Fair. Here were people that died since Adam who were trapped in their sin. Now Christ's visit is to declare who He is, what He has done and what He will now do for those who will believe. 1 Peter 3:19-20 supports this nicely - he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

And now Christ Jesus long-suffers as the believer's Intercessor. Isaiah 53:12 prophesied Jesus as this eventual Intercessor for us. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. The New Testament promise of Christ in this role is found in Romans 8:34Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Do you see? He is always Faithful; always the Intercessor; always Long-suffering and He is Not Done Yet!