Saturday, March 7, 2009 – Wisdom 15 – Slow to Anger
If you can possibly gather a few hours our of your hectic life, sit with a Bible to journey from the narratives of old stories in Numbers and Nehemiah, through the insight brought by Wisdom and the Psalms and reinforced by the prophets Nahum, Jonah and Joel to the newness of Peter and James. If you only have a short amount of time spend it with Wisdom 15 for here is where we read the story of a willful people called by a God who longs for eternal constancy and fidelity. This God is patient. This God is both just and kind. This God is infinitely slow to anger. He always has been and he always will be. This God calls us to an intimacy of a most intense nature . . . and he never ceases telling us how much we are loved.
Wisdom 15:1: But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing all with mercy.
Numbers 14:18: The Lord is slow to anger and rich in kindness, forgiving wickedness and crime; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children to the third and fourth generation for the fathers’ wickedness.
Nehemiah 9:16-17: But they, our fathers, proved to be insolent; they held their neck stiff and would not obey your commandments. They refused to remember the miracles you had worked for them. They stiffened their necks and turned their heads to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God who pardons, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in mercy; you did not forsake them.
We are created by God with both a conscience to form and a free will with which to act. God provides us with all we need, and then he sends us into the world to do his kingdom-building work. The Old Testament God is a stern father, measuring our punishment and reward.
Jonah 4:2: I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
Joel 2:13: Return to the Lord your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.
Nahum 1:3: The Lord is slow to anger, yet great in power, and the Lord never leaves the guilty unpunished.
Along the way of our journey, we become distracted by the world of ego and self; yet God continues constant: ever kind, ever merciful, ever forgiving, ever just, ever loving. Through the Prophets, God is constantly calling us back to ur true journey . . . a journey to wholeness and freedom.
Wisdom 15:3: For to know you well is complete justice, and to know your might is the root of immortality.
Psalm 86:15: But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, most loving and true.
Psalm 103:8: Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.
Psalm 145:8: The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love.
God continues to speak to us, to love us; and he patiently awaits the return of our hearts to him. The Psalms remind us of how he perseveres in his love for us.
Wisdom 15: 4: For neither did the evil creation of man’s fancy deceive us, nor the fruitless labor of painters, a form smeared with varied colors, the sight of which arouses yearning in the senseless man, till he longs for the inanimate form of a dead image.
2 Peter 3:9: The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay”, but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
James 1:19: Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
Let us be quick to take the opportunity offered in this season of Lent when God reminds us that the Old Law of the Old Testament and the Prophets has been fulfilled by the presence and action of Christ and the New Law of a love. It is a love so great and overpowering that even our enemies may be converted by it. In this way we enter into the way of God’s might and impartiality . . . and into our own conversion.
Wisdom 15: 16-17: For no one succeeds in fashioning a god like himself; being mortal, he makes a dead thing with his lawless hands. For he is better than the things he worships; he at least lives, but never they.
God is slow to anger, rich in kindness, powerful in justice, full in love. Let us hunt through our hidden places to bring out the idols we have lurking there. For these objects created by man cannot bring us to true and everlasting life. If we seek immortality, this is where we find it: in God’s example of his slowness in anger, his richness in mercy, his steadfastness in justice and his constancy in love. This is something worth gaining . . . something worth holding . . . something worth the struggle of life.
God waits for us . . . and we find God in our own slowness to anger, our own fidelity to justice, our own love of mercy.
Also see the God’s Wrath post for November 24, 2011.