Sunday, May 18, 2014
“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16 KJV).
Today’s Scripture expressly declares why the God of the Bible “takes His time” when dealing with sinful mankind.
Israel’s religious leaders abuse God’s prophet Stephen, biting him and throwing him out of Jerusalem. Finally, the mob throws stones at him until he dies. With God’s wrath on mankind literally moments away, the greatest dispensational change to ever “grace” God’s dealings with man, occurs.
Saul of Tarsus—leader of Israel’s opposition to Christ and His little flock, holder of the clothes of Stephen’s murderers in Acts chapter 7—personally met the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9. As Saul was traveling to Damascus to persecute more Messianic Jews, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul from heaven. There, Saul experienced God’s love, mercy, and grace; he trusted Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, and became the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ commissioned him as the Apostle Paul; thereafter, Paul had another extreme ministry—Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, buried, and resurrected (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Years later, Paul wrote of himself: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief [first]. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:13-16).
In order to have mercy on Israel, God had to suspend her prophetic program. To save Saul of Tarsus, God had to begin a new dispensation, a new set of instructions to mankind, a new program, one He had in mind from before creation but had kept secret—the mystery program, or “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-11). God delayed His wrath again….