The OT days are summarized as times when God “let all nations go their own way” (Acts 14:15);
What are the implications in this? What is the disposition of God toward this world where His will is violated every moment? Are His permissions displays of patience and mercy toward a world that grieves Him?
What does it mean that people “resist” (Acts 7:51), “grieve” (Ephesians 4:30) and “quench” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit? “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever” (Genesis 6:2).
God has never “left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).
Yet don’t forget that there was a time in the past when God “saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:5-6).
Even in the fulfillment of God’s own justice we read, “‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God, Therefore, repent and live’” (Ez. 18:32), “‘As I live,’ declares the Lord, `I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live’” (Ez. 33:11).
What is the heart of God toward this world? “Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins.” (Ezekiel 6:9, NLT).
Until the cross of Christ, “He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past ” (Romans 3:25-26); He “endured with much patience vessels of wrath” (Romans 9:22-23); He “overlooked such ignorance” (Acts 17:30-31).
Question: “do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
Consider how divorce was permitted (in some cases) as an accommodation to realities of life in a sinful world (see: Matthew 19:3-9). It was not God’s plan from the beginning just as many things that happen are not God’s plan from the beginning. When hard hearts brought destitution on others, divine allowances outside of God’s perfect plan were permitted in the mercy of God (see: Exodus 21:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:15).
Even when Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery,’” he was mandating (in some way) in the realm of concession not God’s perfect plan. Jesus’ words should be understood as a provision not a prescription — in a context of concession because of the hardness of sinful hearts.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).
Each day we know that, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve… As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:9, 13-14).
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).
Yet we say with confidence: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4cf. cf. II Pe. 3:9). “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).