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 explained how the Lord told Abraham to go to a land that I will show you. However, Abraham did not immediately go to Canaan, but waited until after his father died. (Acts 7:4) The Lord gave Abraham a second chance to obey His command.

Steven reminded the Sanhedrin that the brothers of Joseph hated him and rejected him, but were then given a second chance when Joseph was in a position to help save them when they came to Egypt for food. (Acts 7:13) 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 the Children of Israel a second chance forty years later when Moses came back to lead them out of Egypt. (Acts 7:35)

Steven recalled, because of their idolatry, how the Lord told the Israelites that He would send them into exile in Babylon. (Acts 7:43) And yet he was speaking to the Sanhedrin who were obviously back in Jerusalem after the Captivity. 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 yet a second time. (Isaiah 11:11) God is patient. He gives second chances.

In Judaism, 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. (Numbers 9:9) The Lord provides us with second chances.

The reason that I have shown how the Lord is patient and provides second chances is because of an objection to the concept of the Church being snatched up (raptured) to meet the Lord Jesus in the air (First Thessalonians 4:17) before the Great Tribulation. (This is not the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth as found in the Revelation 19:11-18.) The objection is that those left behind, having rejected the Gospel, will have a second chance of salvation.

First of all, the Lord desires that no one perish, but that all would come to repentance. (Second Peter 3:9) 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. (Matthew 24:21) The prophet Jeremiah said it would be a terrible time; that none other would be like it. (Jeremiah 30:7) The death and destruction described in the Revelation is unimaginable.

Consequently, 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. (The Revelation 20:4) Their salvation will come at indescribable personal cost, but the Lord will have given them a second chance. Praise His name for His patience and salvation! I am so thankful for His patience with me.

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