(Article for publication week of 1-18-2012 AD)
“Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:20).
For about one hundred and twenty years from the time He pronounced judgment on the old world, God patiently waited until Noah had built the ark for the salvation of his family. The ungodly world continued on in their rebellion against God while Noah preached righteousness and prepared the ark by faith. God was longsuffering with the world for the sake of Noah and his family. The world was ripe for judgment, but God waited to execute that judgment for Noah’s sake.
God is never in any hurry. He often waits decades and centuries to bring to pass His wise counsels. God does not have to get in any hurry because He is absolutely sovereign and no one is going to disturb His plans. The continued evil imaginations of the antediluvians did not hinder God’s purpose. He had decreed judgment on the old world, and it was certain to happen in God’s way and time. God had also purposed the salvation of Noah and his house, and nothing could hinder that either.
Lost men in their ignorance and blindness greatly misinterpret the patience of God. Since He delays judgment, they wrongly suppose it will not come. I am sure that Noah was made a laughingstock in his day. If they had comedians on television back then (some archaeologists believe the old world was highly advanced) I am sure they had many good laughs out of the “old fool” building and ark, warning of the judgment of God, and preaching righteousness. Since God waited, they thought it would never come. But after about one hundred and twenty years the rain began to fall and then they began to beat on the door of the ark for entrance, but it was too late! God is patient and longsuffering, but He is true to His word.
Even so, now God is longsuffering with the world of the ungodly. He has pronounced a day of final judgment. He has pronounced the end of the world when the elements shall melt with fervent heat. He has pronounced judgment on everything and everybody that is outside of Christ. Just as in the days of Noah men scoff at the threat of eternal judgment and the end of the world. But mark it down neighbors, God will be true to His word. Just because God waits does not mean He will not bring it to pass and execute judgment.
Why does God wait? Well, first of all because he is God and runs His universe as He is pleased. But then there is another scriptural answer to that question. God waits with longsuffering until all His elect are brought to the saving knowledge of Christ. When the last heir of promise is effectually called from darkness to light, then God will be through with the present order and will usher in the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. So you see, the longsuffering of God is salvation.