Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
The divine quality often called ‘longsuffering’ in the Scriptures, that represents God’s restraint towards evil, creates a difficult dilemma for us as believers. When it comes to our own struggle against sin, we love God’s restraint. We memorize Scriptures like “His mercies are new every morning,” and we sing lines like “amazing grace … that saved a wretch like me,” because the reality of God’s mercy toward us is our deepest joy. Yet, though we say we don’t deserve grace, we look at other others who really don’t deserve grace—who don’t even deserve the chance of it—and we think God should just send fire down from heaven instead of wasting His time (and ours) redeeming them.
Friend, like Isaiah’s world, our world today is in ruins; but God’s restraint toward evil is not an act of indifference; it’s an act of mercy. While your gut-reaction might be to beg Christ to destroy the wicked, remember that He’s doing something far better. He’s redeeming sinful men and turning what they meant for evil into the greatest good.