This article looks at Micah 2:7 and Romans 9:28 and the patience of God, the judgment of God, and prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Source: Clarion, 1987. 2 pages.

Micah 2:7 – Divine Impatience

Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient?

Micah 2:7b

...for the LORD will execute His sentence upon the earth with rigour and dispatch.

Romans 9:28

We might question what is really wrong with the judgment concerning the Spirit of God made by the critics of Micah's preaching. These critics maintained that the Spirit of the LORD is absolutely patient, and therefore would never act rashly. Consequently, Micah's announcement of coming ruin and bitter lamentation had to be taken with a grain of salt. Judgment would not come that quickly from the Lord’s presence. And wouldn't we easily say the same thing? Who dares attribute impatience to the LORD and His Spirit?

Like many false prophesies, this view also had a ring of truth to it; but it was no more than a half-truth. Certainly the Spirit of the LORD is never impatient, and never acts rashly with a reactionary and defensive spirit. The Lord is always in full control of His actions, is never affected in such a way that He is forced to act impulsively, and always re­mains in full control of the situation.

However, this does not mean that within the context of His covenant with man, the LORD does not deal with us honestly and fairly, according to previously established terms. And in the covenant, the LORD is more often pictured in Scripture as one who became impatient and indignant with the suffering of His people. That divine indignation is found when, after having punished His people by means of a foreign power as His instrument, the LORD becomes indig­nant concerning the oppression of the remnant that repent in suffering, and return to Him. For example, Judges 10:16 says that the LORD became indignant over the misery of His people. Literally it says that He became impatient with their lot, and sought out to deliver them.

We find the same in Isaiah 10:22, 23, a passage later quoted by Paul in Romans 9:28. Assyria is the rod of the Lord’s indignation upon Israel, but He also becomes indignant because of their cruelty to Israel. Therefore, He an­nounces an imminent judgment upon Assyria, so that the remnant of Israel may be saved, as He says, "Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness!" Isaiah 10:22. And Paul applies this to the church of the latter days. In the work of Christ, unbelieving Israel, Israel according to the flesh, is cut off, and only a remnant is saved – later blossoming to the large tree of the new Israel, composed of Jews and Gentiles alike.

This shows that the LORD is not a distant and disinterested God in heaven, a God who does not act on the basis of His covenant. He makes haste to save His own! To be sure, the Spirit of the LORD is not impatient in a human sense. Yet the Spirit came and comes in haste, in answer to the cry of the church! And with all the saints and angels in heaven He longs for the final revelation of glory and the final vindication of God's elect. He comes with rigour and dispatch to answer the cry of those who in their persecution and distress turn to God in repentance and faith. When the LORD sees repentance in the covenant, He also repents of the evil that He lays upon His children, and softens it in order to bring the repentant to salvation.

So there is a sense in which we may say that the Spirit of the LORD is impatient! He longed to come upon the church at Pentecost. And just as the Lord Jesus prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit, Luke 3:21, so we also find the church praying for the coming of the Spirit, Acts 1:14. And as the church prayed for His first coming, so we still are called to pray unceasingly for the final completion of the Spirit's work.

This brings a divinely appointed "tension" in all true Christian prayer. Without this "tension" prayer would become a cold and detached exercise of duty. On the one we pray for the revelation of perfect patience, and that the LORD might so delay His judgment that all will not be destroyed, cf. Amos 7:2ff. For who can stand before the terrible wrath of God? On the other hand, we pray for the vindi­cation of the church, so that the chosen people of God may not fall into the hands of wicked and lawless men, and so all right and truth vanish from the earth. And we pray in the sure knowledge of the "impatient" Spirit! As Jesus says:

And will not God vindicate His elect who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will vindicate them speedily. Luke 18:7, 8

So we ask for what is impossible among men. We ask for a perfectly patient impatience to be revealed, all in its appointed time. And this prayer will be answered, if only we are faithful! For God will fulfill the terms of His covenant. His word cannot be broken! And then His perfect justice and mercy will be revealed. His perfect patience with the weak and erring will be revealed, as well as His swift and sure defense of those who suffer under the yoke of obstinate hatred and rebellion against Him. The whole creation groans and languishes in tremors of impatience! It longs for the glori­ous revelation of the sons of God! He comes to judge the peoples in truth and equity! Then what we now share in first fruits will be given to us in fullness, and with the Father and the Son, the Spirit will also be all and in all!

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