“Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:15-16)
Even though Abraham had been promised the land and was living there, it was not yet time for him or his descendants (there were none at that time) to take possession of it. The reason given for this was, “The iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. ” As vile and corrupt as they were, it would seem that God gave them ample time — 400 years — to repent.
Apparently, God doesn’t punish nations until the measure of sin is full. He always allows people and nations the opportunity to realize the need for repentance before He brings judgment upon them. He might send them reminders from time to time but establishes a set time for repentance. This is true for His people, as well. Look at what He told the congregation of Thyatira:
“I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.” (Revelation 2:20-22)
We know that our God is long suffering, not willing that any should perish. We know that He is merciful, compassionate and forgiving, much more so than judgmental. In fact, it seems that punishment and judgment is something that comes as a last resort; after He has given ample time for repentance and has no other choice. He said, “ ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). Consequently, he doesn’t move to judge a nation until their cup is full — even if that means making His servants wait.
So many of God’s people are ready for things to be over and done with. In other words, they’re ready for Him to come and put an end to man’s wickedness and gather us to Him. I certainly understand that but think about it this way: what about those who aren’t ready? Maybe His mercy and long suffering is still giving people opportunity to turn from their wickedness and live. That’s what I believe and that’s why we must continue being the salt and light that He has called us to be. One day the cup of iniquity will be full and judgment will fall upon the nations. Until then, let us work diligently to lead as many as who will follow from darkness into light.
Blessings and Shalom,