Summary: In this part of the story of Elijah, God sends him to tell Ahab that God's patience had run out with the king and his wife. God has great compassion and patience, but He is also just and His patience does run out.
A. I like the story told about the teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his boots.
1. She pulled and he pushed, but the boots still didn’t want to go on.
2. When the second boot was finally on, she had worked up a sweat.
3. She almost whimpered when the little boy said, “Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet.”
4. She looked and sure enough, they were.
5. It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off then it was putting them on.
6. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on - this time on the right feet.
7. Once the boots were on, the little boy announced, “These aren’t my boots.”
8. She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to.
9. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off.
10. Once the boots were off, the little boy said, “The boots aren’t mine, they’re my brother’s boots. My Mom made me wear them.”
11. The teacher didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up the grace to wrestle the boots on his feet again.
12. When the boots were back on for the 3rd time, She said, “Now, where are your mittens?”
13. The little boy said, “I stuffed them in the toes of the boots...”
B. Are you a patient person?
1. Even the most patient of persons eventually reaches a point where their patience runs out, right?
C. What about God?
1. We know from the Bible and from experience that God is good.
a. God is full of compassion.
b. God has an incomparable capacity of love, grace and patience.
c. All of God’s traits are immeasurable in Him and beyond our comprehension.
d. We should find great comfort in this.
2. We also know from the Bible that God is just.
a. In the Scriptures, God’s justice and righteousness are intertwined.
b. We love the fact that God is good and compassionate, but we are less comfortable with the fact that God is just.
c. One person wrote: “God’s compassion flows out of His goodness, and goodness without justice is not goodness. God spares us because He is good, but He could not be good if He were not just…God’s justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. The value and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day near and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.”
3. And so, we enjoy speaking of and celebrating the love of God, and so we should, but there is another side of His character that we cannot deny or ignore, and that is God’s wrath.
4. God is patient and merciful, compassionate and longsuffering, but His patience has its limit.
5. God can come to the end of His patience, and when He does it’s as if He says, “that’s is enough!”
D. Proverbs 29:1, our Scripture Reading for the day says, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed —without remedy.”
1. Look closely at those words for they clearly convey a warning and a promise.
2. In that verse we learn something about God and about us.
3. We learn that when we refuse to repent after many rebukes, God will come to the end of His patience and will punish without remedy.
E. Such statements are rare in Scripture.
1. Often God’s pronouncements are followed by offers of His grace and mercy, for God frequently reminds us of His longsuffering – His patience.
2. God understands our make-up – He knows that we are imperfect.
3. God stands ready to forgive and forget our confessed sins; the sins we repent of.
4. But when there is none of that – confession and repentance, then God is ready to respond with wrath.
5. When a person remains “stiff-necked” then they reach a point of no return – they are beyond remedy – it is terminal.
6. At that point God says, “That is enough!”
7. Proverbs 6:12-15 is another Scripture that teaches the same as Prov. 29:1:
A scoundrel and villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
13 who winks with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart —
he always stirs up dissension.
15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.