God Behind the Scenes
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their wicked ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” —Psalm 37:7, NIV.
Ahhh, patience, what I have so little of.
I was intrigued by a piece of a verse I read recently that reminded me of how limited my knowledge is about God’s working. The Lord was explaining to Abraham what would happen to the nation that God was going to form from Abraham’s descendents. He told his servant that this people would end up in Egypt, be held there for four hundred years and then be brought back to the land of Canaan when the “sin of the Amorites” had gone as far as God was willing to allow it to go (Genesis 15:12-16).
While the Hebrews were literally slaving away in Egypt, things were happening in Canaan of which they were unaware. We don’t know all the history, but God was there among the Amorites.
The Amorites were descendents of Canaan, Noah’s grandson. At some point in their history they had been God-conscious. They were in the land when Abraham resided there, bringing with him the savor of the God who had called him. Abraham could not help but be some kind of godly influence with the wealth and reputation that he had as he moved about the land.
Was this long wait a sign of God’s patience in allowing these people opportunity to return to their righteous roots before destruction came upon them for their sin?
The Hebrews in Egypt would have no way of knowing why God held back the Promised Land from them, except for this short phrase appearing in the promise given to Abraham. God was waiting until he could wait no longer. Then the Hebrews would become God’s instrument of punishment on the sins of the Amorites as they returned to the land of promise.
We fret, as the psalmist says, when evil succeeds. But we have no idea what God is doing in the lives of those who generate that evil. He is not a helpless bystander in their history any more than he is a helpless bystander in ours. He asks us to be patient while he is working out his purposes because life isn’t all about us—it’s also about the other guy, as evil as he might be. God loves him too, and only God knows what might be going on in his life that the Lord is seeking to use to bring him to repentance.