Is It Too Late?

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Merciful and patient as God may be, there is a limit to His tolerance of sin. Severe judgment awaits those nations that ignore God’s corrective judgments. Nations that, like rebellious Israel, arrogantly respond to corrective judgment by declaring, “‘We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with finished stone, and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with cedars’” compel God to dispense ever greater measures of judgment until, finally, all that remains is final destruction (Isa. 9:10, NLT).

When exactly a nation’s stubbornness transitions its judgment from discipline to destruction is never specified in God’s Word. Indeed, prophetic warnings often preceded God’s judgment by decades—and even generations—granting ample opportunity for repentance. Israel fell to Assyria about 40 years after Amos’ declaration (Amos 7); Assyria’s capital city fell to the Babylonians and Medes around 50 years after Nahum’s prophecy (Nah. 1–3), and Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians 66 years after Habakkuk’s warning (Hab. 2:4–20). Undoubtedly, God’s prophets believed that severe judgment upon these nations was imminent—and likely unavoidable. However, God bestowed a prolonged season of mercy before sending His destruction.

Likewise, we would rightly assume that the evil capital city of Assyria had exhausted God’s mercy when reading the prophet Jonah’s warning: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” (Jonah 3:4). Nevertheless, God responded to the city’s humble repentance by extending mercy for nearly 150 years. We simply have no way of knowing when it is too late for a nation to stave off God’s destructive judgment.

Similarly, we have no way of knowing how long our national season of mercy will last. As such, we should not preach imminent destruction, but neither should we presume God’s continued mercy. Instead, we ought to faithfully uphold righteousness where we have influence and to intercede on behalf of our nation, like Habakkuk, who pleaded with God, “In your anger, remember your mercy” (Hab. 3:2). As we do, let us resist becoming fatalistic in our thinking as we boldly proclaim the heart of God: Love God, obey Him, and firmly commit to Him in everything so that we might prosper (Deut. 30:20).

This article is excerpted from Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation

Download your free copy here.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.