And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.
This contest with Pharaoh not only demonstrates God’s power and Pharaoh’s hard heart, but also all of these other characteristics inherent in God—mercy, grace, love, longsuffering. He didn’t destroy Egypt at Pharaoh’s first refusal to obey Him. He did not at first bring the most severe judgment of death to the firstborn. He did not leave the plagues to perpetually afflict the people, but graciously removed them. He did not give Pharaoh and the people of Egypt exactly what they deserved without first giving them a chance to repent.
One of the purposes of the signs in Egypt was to give the people time and space to come to believe on God and obey Him. And if God would deal thus with Pharaoh, is He not also patient with His children? He gives us time and space to repent, to turn to Him in obedience, to believe in Him and accept Him as our God, to let go of wrong choices and start making right ones. What a great and merciful God we have. He is not all flaming fire and harsh winds, but He demonstrates kindness and compassion toward us. He does not bring things into our lives with the purpose of hurting us, but so that we might change our wicked ways and turn to Him.
But though God is longsuffering, there will come a time for His final judgment to those who never change their heart toward God. Pharaoh’s time was up. His opportunities to repent had run out, and God’s hand of judgment would be upon him, and there would be no escaping it. And when the set time comes, God’s wrath will be poured out on all those who have refused Him and withstood His grace, and there will no longer be time to repent and make a different decision.
May we not take advantage of the patience of God. May we be quick to repent when He points out something to us that we need to get right. May we not take advantage of the great mercy and grace that He shows to us, but seek to please Him in all that we do. May we be sheltered under the blood of Christ and be spared the terrible judgment that awaits those who refuse to accept Him. And may we live our own lives imitating those same qualities of grace, mercy, love, and longsuffering to those around us.