John has been preaching on the patience of God, and this week's message was very helpful. His theme over the last few weeks has been this: as we get to know God, we will see our sin for what it is, and how largely it goes against the character and glory of God. As we get to know God and see our sin, we will begin to see just how patient God is with us, and this ought to lead us to repentance and love towards Him.
He used two illustrations from the bible to discuss the two main ways we tend to sin against God. First, John talked about how we, like the Israelites, are tempted to turn back or return to "Egypt" when things get difficult. Second, he talked about how we sin in the same way of the Israelites when they fashioned the golden calf; we are often guilty of adjusting God, making Him more reasonable, manageable, and like us. The Israellites did not say they were making a new god... they just said, "here is Jehovah." We tend to do the same thing by disregarding the Scriptures and placing our feelings or cultural traditions above what God says about Himself.
Are we going to give everything to Christ and allow Him to rule over every part of our lives? Or are we guilty (just as the Israelites decided to try to enter the promised land after saying it couldn't be done) of strapping on our swords and Christian books and church friends and charging ahead on our own... This is a recipe for destruction, just as the Israelites were destroyed. We never gain holiness without a price. First, we must come to Christ and then go to the battlefield.
We must look at the sin of Israel and realize we do the same thing... we adjust God and are tempted to stop short. The giants seem too big, temptations seem too great, and we are tempted to turn back. By doing this, we provoke Him.
BUT GOD is patient and doesn't let us go back to Egypt!
He endures the provocation of our fickle, blasphemous ways with (literally) infinite patience. When we see this, it gives us the desire to repent and lay all aside and follow Christ. What a wonderful Savior!