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The impatience of God

“Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send someone else.” Then the Lord became angry with Moses. — Exodus 4:12-14

Shakespeare said that there was never a philosopher who could bear a toothache patiently. Even a philosopher has his limits. There is only so much that he will endure.

It was the same in Job’s case. His patience was legendary, but there came a time when he had heard enough from his “comforters,” whose comfort he did not need. Most people have little difficulty identifying (or at least responding to) the limits of their own tolerance and patience. But what about God? Are there limits to His patience?

This is a disturbing question, because God’s patience is not only clearly taught in Scripture, but it has been widely experienced by those who have received His forgiveness and embraced His grace.

God’s patience is often assumed by those who do not love God. Where is the person, whatever his religious convictions, or lack of them, who does not assume that God, if He is there, has a boundless supply of patience? So the ungodly will continue in a lifestyle that they know in their heart is not right, on the assumption—or hope—that they will get away with it in the end. They either think that God isn’t there or that God is so patient that anything goes.

Disturbing or not, the question about the limits of God’s patience deserves an answer. The answer is in the ongoing discussion that Moses had with the Lord concerning his call to go to Egypt and confront Pharaoh. Moses had raised question after question, excuse after excuse, until finally he said in desperation, “Lord, please! Send someone else!” (Exodus 4:13).

That did it! God had heard enough! “Then the Lord became angry with Moses” (4:14).

The limit of God’s patience was reached when Moses obdurately refused to do what the Lord told him to do. Moses had been attracted to God’s presence in the bush, had heard God’s voice, had received God’s assurances, had seen God’s miracles, and had been told that God didn’t mind that he was “clumsy with words” but would give him words to speak!

Still Moses resisted God’s call and tried with all his might to avoid being what God wanted him to be. That is what brought on God’s impatience.

Even though Moses was impatient, the Lord gave him Aaron as a spokesman, and He still sent Moses to Pharaoh. And Moses went. Perhaps, through the display of divine impatience, Moses finally got the message!

The patience of God is legendary. Where would we be without it? But it is not inexhaustible, and it should not be abused or taken for granted. Better to seek to bring Him pleasure than to try His patience!

For further study: Exodus 4:10-18

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.