The Patience of God.

Nahum 1.

Scripture speaks of the world in three different ways or characters. Three names found in connection with the history of God's people describe it. Egypt: The world in its natural state, out of which the people of God have been redeemed. Babylon: The corruption of power in its activity; corruption of power enslaves the conscience, the heart, the mind. Nineveh: The pride of the world, in its thoughtlessness and indifference to God; because of its pride throwing off God. We get the judgment of the world in this latter phase here. Nineveh was a place of large resources. It was lifted up by the greatness of itself, and it threw off God; and here we have the judgment of God upon it, the greatness of God's power which will be manifested when He judges the scene which has rejected Christ. Two things are connected with this. He will come to judge this world where the pride of man is running high against Him; and it will not only be the display of His power in judgment, but He is pleased to link with this display of power in the day when He will judge the pride of men, the emancipation of creation; it will be the day of its liberty. (Rom. 8:19-20.) The sons of God have a creation waiting upon them! Have we the sense of this? If we are sons of God, creation waits upon us. Who hath "subjected it"? Adam. He was placed at the head of creation. He fell; consequently all under his headship must be subjected to vanity. "In hope," because the creature itself also shall be delivered into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. It is beautiful to see the connection between the display of power, and the liberty of that which is now under thraldom. God will come and put down evil with a high hand. Now it is the time of His grace and long suffering. Patience is the great quality or attribute of God which is prominent at this present time - patience in the presence of impudent evil. Our poor hearts are impatient; nothing tests us as to this like the presence of sin, and self-will, and obstinacy. We get here (vv. 2, 3) a beautiful blending of attributes. We find the same characteristic in the New Testament: "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ." (2 Thess. 3:5.) We are in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. This is the character God assumes at this present time, when evil is rife on every hand. He will soon judge unsparingly; it is the patience of One who is omnipotent. I believe the reason why the apostle places patience first in 2 Cor. 6, when he shows what is to signalize the ministers of God, is because it is the quality or character of God that is prominent at the present moment. (2 Cor. 12:12.) There were certain characteristics which marked all the apostles, but in none was this divine quality so prominent as in Paul, and none had greater pressure. on him. What must it have been to him to see the Corinthians, with all their light and truth, so fallen into evil! It is worthy of note, that whenever we see Paul's doctrine touched his apostleship was questioned. In most in stances when the truth was refused, the vessel through whom the truth was communicated was rejected. How did Paul prove his apostleship to them? By being patient in the presence of evil. (2 Cor. 12:12.) When he looks on to the days now present (2 Tim.), patience and gentleness are to characterize the servant. (See chap. 2:24.) Nothing tests us more than to be surrounded by evil. A sense of righteousness and truth of itself will not keep us. It is not that we are to be indifferent to evil, we ought to feel it; but feeling it is one thing, acting on our feelings is another. Acting on our feelings is little better than mere impulse. The character to be manifested by us when the world is growing hoary in crime is "gentleness, meekness, patience." In Heb. 10 we find this quality is looked for in the saints generally, as in the apostle and the servant (2 Cor.; 2 Tim.): "Ye were made a gazing stock, … ye became companions of them that were so used." (v. 33.) It requires a greater energy of faith, and a greater exercise of patience, to be the companions of those so used.

If we are for God, we shall have all against us; yet it is our joy to be able to say, "He knoweth them that trust in Him;" and, "I know whom I have believed." The blessed, perfect man Himself, the faithful witness, was left alone; and yet He was not alone, because His Father was with Him. If you are standing for God in these days, you will have the accumulated hatred of Christendom against you. Every religious body in it, however diverse and in other respects opposed in doctrine and practice, will shake hands over their united and common opposition to that which, Antipas-like, is a condemnation of all. There is nothing more blessed to behold than the patience of Christ, which in faith is contented to wait. Are you patient? have you a sense of superiority in the presence of evil? That is patience. If you are not patient, it is because you are not superior. How good it is to see one pressed, and tried, and harassed, yet going on quietly and peacefully! Of such we can say, "Superior to everything;" because they can endure. What a stay to have the truth on our side, and the God of peace with us! The apostle could say, "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion (Nero), and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom." Our hearts need to be fortified in order that we may stand, and thus be prepared for what is coming. If we have the sense that God is with us, we are prepared to stand, solitary and alone, on the blessed truth of the word of God; happy to have company with us on the road, but independent of it. It is enough for the heart to have the Lord's presence; the sense of this works patience. How enduring we should be if we only knew that God was with us. We may be left alone, maligned, despised. "All men forsook me; but notwithstanding the Lord stood by me." We have one blessed, mighty Friend, and He, is unfailing and unchanging.

This chapter properly expresses the circumstances of the remnant; and though it may not apply directly to ourselves, yet the moral principles of it are true with us. It is very blessed to see how all comes out from God's side. It was the stay of the heart then; it is equally so now. Every child of God is in circumstances of trial and pressure, because we are still in the wilderness. Our comfort is, "The Lord is good." This is His nature. His power, omnipotence, omniscience, are His attributes; but He Himself is good. When we get the light of the New Testament shining upon it, what do we find? He gave His Son - He gave His Spirit. It is only as we know the heart of God that we know the purpose of His ways; judging of God by our feeble sense leads to infidelity. His ways are no interpretation of Him. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." God manifest in the flesh, is God's revelation of Himself.

"God so loved … that He gave." Here we have the expressed revelation of the love of His heart through the Son of His love. He came and revealed the secrets of that bosom. There is not a secret of His heart that is not manifested. Nothing but love marks Him. You must bring the nature of God to shine on His ways, otherwise we shall bring our own puny reason to account for them. "His way is in the sea," etc. Is that all? "Thou leddest thy people like a flock." Here we have His tender, watchful care and interest. We are led by the hand of our great Shepherd, not by the hand of Moses and Aaron. "He is a stronghold in the day of trouble." It does not say He will take us out of the trouble, or that He will lighten it; but it is what He Himself is - "a stronghold in the day of trouble." Have we learnt what it is to have a resource, and not relief only? We are so often looking for relief merely, we need as well a resource; it is what He Himself is - "a stronghold," etc. What a blessed thing to have a resource before relief comes; and the relief is then no less sweet to us. A person who is looking only for relief is always impatient, because he desires to have the weight removed, the difficulty taken away; and the will of man is apt to clothe itself in the deceiving garment of seeming good; viz., how much more freely and happily I could serve and follow Him, if this weight were removed. "For this thing I be sought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me;" but when Paul heard the voice of Jesus announcing the sufficiency of His grace, and how His power worked, he accepts unmitigated the thorn, in order that the power of Christ may (episkenose) pitch its tent over him.

Again, observe how those who count on God are described. He does not speak of what they have left, or what they have obtained; but they "trust in Him." They make every thing of Him. Observe too, it is not their knowledge, not that they are devoted, blessed as that is; it is they trust in Him, and He knows it. It is a blessed thing to be satisfied with the knowledge of God about us. It is strikingly seen in restored Peter, when the Lord tested him as to the point he had boasted in. He says, "Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee." He had confidence in himself before; he now retires on his Lord's knowledge of him; he had found out what he was, and he has not a word to say for himself. His solace is, "Thou knowest." In 2 Timothy, when the apostle describes the last days, it is the same blessed principle which is put forth to guide the faithful heart. To the one who departs from iniquity, what a comfort it is, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." May our hearts be so with Him as to find out the reality and sustainment of this word: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him."

W. T. Turpin.