WHEN THE SUBTLETY OF SIN SHIFTS
It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken. Psalm 119:126
God is longsuffering. He hears people profane His name, watches as they worship other gods, and bends under the grief of seeing them choose lifestyles that violate His precepts. All the while, He calls for repentance. He woos people to leave their life of sin and return to Him. While He is longsuffering, there are limits to His staying hand of judgment. When sin reaches a certain pitch, or is ‘comes to fullness’ (God’s wording), judgment comes.
In Genesis, God told Abraham, “Your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years…. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Gen. 15:13,16 The timing of God’s judgment would coincide with the ‘fullness’ of their sin. God did bring judgment and it was through the hand of Joshua many hundred years later.
David is pleading for God’s judgment. He sees the pitch of sin around him increasing, becoming blatant. It grieves his spirit and he wonders how long God can restrain himself. As parents, we understand this. We give our children many chances to back away from sin when they’re young as we see them ride the line of disrespect. First, it’s a look, then a tone, then defiance, then full fledged rebellion. When it takes a more severe turn, we know that we can’t hold back discipline. God’s ways are similar but far more comprehensive.
What is the message for any of us who live or work in an environment where sin is blatant and God’s judgment is presently absent? How do we reconcile that the wicked live more blessed instead of judged? Their riches increase, the influence spreads, and their boasting heightens. Perhaps David’s frustration is voiced within this context. “Come now, Lord, and defend your law!”
It is comforting to review the story of the Amorites. They sinned openly and recklessly. If they ever feared God, their fear subsided as they sinned boldly without consequences. However, while God used this time period to extend mercy, He also allowed their sin to ‘fill up’ alongside a timetable for Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt. The picture was much bigger than Israel’s limited eyesight while in slavery. While in Egypt, few, if any, thought about the Amorites and Canaan. Yet, God’s sovereign hand in history was being played out in another part of the world to make room for the future conquest of Israel’s armies.
When I strain against God’s seeming patience with evil, the picture is also much bigger than I can see. Hindsight will reveal that all is being played out according to His sovereign purposes and my good.
How do you wait, Lord? And how do I wait for justice, Lord? I must live in the storyline of scripture and take my comfort in your sovereign plan. Increase my faith while the evil would make me faint. Amen