By Pastor David M. Choi
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your grave, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” -Ezekiel 37:11-14
Because of God’s love for His covenant people, God continues to claim dead people as His own. However, precisely because it is the God of life who claims them, they will not stay dead for much longer. He will open up their graves and raise them out. He will bring them into the land He promised, the land flowing with milk and honey. There they will know God, enjoy His bountiful blessings, and live peaceably with one another. God said He will do it. But that day has not yet arrived.
As much as we’re comforted by what God said He will do, we still can’t help but ask why God delays. Why then and not now? Why does God take so long in delivering on His promises? Why did God send Jesus when He did and not earlier? These are legitimate questions, but questions that can’t help but betray the impatience of our own sinful ignorance. Usually, we have our eyes set on the material and social blessings. But often we don’t realize that none of these things can actually be blessings unless God is in the picture. That is, we can’t have the blessings without God, and at the same time we can’t enjoy the blessings rightly apart from Him. Blessings without God spoil. But isn’t this exactly the problem? We don’t want God.
Clearly, God’s delay has less to do with procuring the blessings, as much as it has to do with God forming the sort of people who will be able to receive such blessings. And that takes time. It takes time because in our sin we actively fight against what God is doing within us. As one theologian put it, “We inherently resist God because we have come to love our sinfulness – and we fear losing it.” Understood that way, it’s not so difficult for us to grasp how God’s delaying is actually good news for us! Because it reveals God’s patience with us.
Even as we experience them now, the blessings of God await at the end of every trial and hardship. In the meantime, God patiently bears with sinners like us, so that we might be shaped – in character and in virtue – to be a people worthy of such blessings. So, who exactly will be worthy to receive such blessings? Those who come to love God. And surely, by that point, we’ll begin to see that being the sort of person who is capable of loving God is itself the greatest blessing. Indeed, that takes time – but God will do it. And then we shall know that He is the Lord.
- Are you being patient with God, or is God really being patient with you? Why do you feel that way?
- Do you actually want God? In other words, do you possess the blessing of being able to love God? What stands in the way?