Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Long nostrils

I'm currently reading a book about the attributes of God. It's called More Like The Master and was written by Dr. Randy Jaeggli, who was my Hebrew professor at Bob Jones University (BJU). One of the passages he comments on is in Exodus 34:6-7, where God proclaims His name to Moses, saying:
The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Dr. Jaeggli makes the following interesting observation on the Hebrew expression for God's "longsuffering" or patience, which I remember him telling us about in class one day:
We can rejoice that God is longsuffering. The Hebrew in Exodus 34:6 literally says that the Lord is "long of nostrils." Picture a person who is really mad. He gets red in the face, the veins in his neck become prominent, adrenaline starts coursing through his bloodstream, and his nostrils flare as he starts inhaling extra oxygen to support his anticipated physical activity (perhaps hitting the person who has infuriated him). Along with inhaling comes exhaling. As the irate person heats up, so does the breath he exhales. If the person has long nostrils, however, the breath has time to cool down before it comes out. This is a picture of the self-control our God manifests when He is angry with sinners. If He brought swift judgment on every act of disobedience to His Word, there would not be a person alive in the world today. Instead of bringing swift retribution, God allows man time to repent. We might even sometimes think that He allows too much time for people to continue in their flagrant sin, but that is not our determination to make. We can be thankful that His patience has borne with our sin, too. (More Like The Master, p. 92f.)
Thankfully, God's patience is far greater than mine or yours. Praise God for His longsuffering with us!

It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

No comments: