2 Peter 3:5-7
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old…
I. CONSIDER THE PATIENCE AND LONG-SUFFERING OF GOD TOWARDS MANKIND, AS IT IS AN ATTRIBUTE AND PERFECTION OF THE DIVINE NATURE: "God is long-suffering to us-ward."
1. The patience of God is His goodness to sinners in deferring the punishment due to them for their sins; and the moderating as well as the deferring of the punishment due to sin is an instance likewise of God's patience; and not only the deferring and moderating of temporal punishment, but the adjourning of the eternal misery of sinners is a principal instance of God's patience; so that the patience of God takes in all that space of repentance which God affords to sinners in this life — nay, all temporal judgments and afflictions which befall sinners.
2. It is not necessarily due to us, but it is due to the perfection of the Divine nature; it is a principal branch of God's goodness, which is the most glorious perfection of all other; and therefore we always find it in Scripture in the company of God's milder attributes.
3. Give some proof of the great patience and long-suffering of God to mankind.And this will evidently appear if we consider these two things —
1. How men deal with God. Every day we highly provoke Him; we grieve and weary Him with our iniquities (Isaiah 43:24).
2. The patience of God will farther appear if we consider how, notwithstanding all this, God deals with us. He is patient to the whole world. He "presents us daily with the blessing" of His goodness, prolonging our lives and vouchsafing many favours to us. But the patience of God will more illustriously appear if we consider these following particulars —
(1) That God is not obliged to spare and forbear us at all.
(2) That God spares us when it is in His power so easily to ruin us.
(3) That God exerciseth this patience even when we are challenging His justice to punish us and provoking His power to destroy us.
(4) That He is so very slow and unwilling to punish and to inflict His judgments upon us.
(a) God's unwillingness to punish appears in that He labours to prevent punishment; and that He may effectually do this He endeavours to prevent sin, the meritorious cause of God's judgments; to this end He hath threatened it with severe punishments that men may fear to offend.
(b) He is long before He goes about this work. Judgment is, in Scripture, called "His strange work"; as ii He were not acquainted with it and hardly knew how to go about it on the sudden (Deuteronomy 32:41).
(c) When He goes about this work He does it with much reluctance (Hosea 11:8). He is represented as making many essays and offers before He came to it (Psalm 106:26). God withholds His judgments till He is weary of holding in, as the expression is (Jeremiah 6:11), until He can forbear no longer (Jeremiah 44:22).
(d) God is easily prevailed upon not to punish, as in the case of Nineveh. With what joy does He tell the prophet the news of Ahab's humiliation!
(e) When He punisheth He does it very seldom rigorously and to extremity, not so much as we deserve (Psalm 103:10).
(f) After He hath begun to punish, and is engaged in the work, He is not hard to be taken off (2 Samuel 24.). Nay, so ready is God to be taken off from this work, that He sets a high value upon those who stand in the gap to turn away His wrath (Numbers 25:11-13).
5. The patience of God will vet appear if we consider some eminent instances of it. His forbearance is so great that He hath been complained of for it by His own servants. Job, who was so patient a man himself, thought much at it (Job 21:7, 8). Jonah challengeth God for it (Job 4:2).
II. THAT THE PATIENCE OF GOD AND THE DELAY OF JUDGMENT IS NO GROUND WHY SINNERS SHOULD HOPE FOR IMPUNITY: "God is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness."
III. THE TRUE REASON OF GOD'S PATIENCE AND LONG-SUFFERING TO MANKIND: "He is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." This is the primary end of God's patience to sinners; and if He fail of this end through our impenitency He hath other ends which He will infallibly attain; He will hereby glorify the riches of His mercy and vindicate the righteousness of His justice; for God does not lose the glory of His patience, though we lose the benefit of it, and He will make it subservient to His justice one way or other. Lessons:
1. That nothing is more provoking to God than the abuse of His patience.
2. That the patience of God will have an end.
3. That nothing will more hasten and aggravate our ruin than the abuse of God's patience.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: