OUR GOD IS PATIENT
In the seventh chapter of Acts we find the story of Steven, the first Christian martyr. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Steven gave a compressed history of the Children of Israel before he was killed by the Jews. He told of how the Lord told Abraham to go to a land that “I will show you.” Abraham did not go to Canaan until after his father died.1 The Lord gave Abraham a second chance.
Steven reminded the Sanhedrin that the brothers of Joseph hated him and rejected him, but were given a second chance when Joseph was in a position to help them when they came to Egypt for food.2 Likewise, the Children of Israel rejected Moses when he killed an Egyptian mistreating one of his Hebrew brothers. Again, Steven pointed out that the Lord gave them a second chance forty years later when Moses came to lead them out of Egypt.3
Steven recalled, because of their idolatry, how the Lord told the Israelites that He would send them into exile in Babylon.4 And yet he was speaking to the Sanhedrin who were obviously back in Jerusalem. The Lord had given the Israelites a second chance.
Because the Lord foreknew that the Jews would reject Jesus, He knew they would once again be exiled from the Holy Land. This occurred about 135 A.D. when the Romans had one too many rebellions and dispersed the Jews all over the Roman Empire (the Diaspora). But through the prophet Isaiah He told the Jews that He would bring them back to Israel a second time.5 God is patient. He gives second chances.
The first holy feast of the year is Passover. Outside of Judaism it is probably the most recognized Feast. If someone was unable to partake of Passover due to being out of the country (Israel), or due to uncleanness, they were given a second opportunity to have Passover one month later.6 The Lord provides us with second chances.
I have shown how the Lord is patient and provides second chances because one objection to the concept of the Church being snatched up (raptured) before the Great Tribulation is that those left behind will have a second chance of salvation. These people will have rejected the Gospel and the free gift, but will then see that it is all true!
First of all, the Lord desires that no one perish, but that all would come to repentance.7 Next, those who come out of the Great Tribulation will have come through a time like no other experienced by mankind on Earth. Jesus said it would be a time of distress unequaled since the beginning of the world.8 The prophet Jeremiah said it would be a terrible time; that none other would be like it.9 The death and destruction described in the Revelation is terrible.
In addition, those who obtain salvation during the Great Tribulation do so at the cost of their lives. In Heaven the Apostle John saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, and because they had not worshiped the Beast or received his Mark.10 Their salvation will come at indescribable personal cost, but the Lord will give them a second chance. Praise His name for His patience and salvation! I am so thankful for His patience with me.
1 - Acts 7:4
2 - Acts 7:13
3 - Acts 7:35
4 - Acts 7:43
5 - Isaiah 11:11
6 - Numbers 9:9
7 - Second Peter 3:9
8 - Matthew 24:21
9 - Jeremiah 30:7
10 - The Revelation 20:4