Impatience seems to be a regular companion of believers. This is partly because God seems to be rather slow in getting things done, and we often think that He needs to speed things up a bit. Even the Tribulation martyrs are seen crying out; “how long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?” (Rev. 6:10). And the Apostle Paul certainly seemed to assume that the Rapture of the Church was likely in his lifetime as he twice included himself in those who would be alive at the Rapture event (1 Thess. 4:15, 17). So, I suppose, we are in good company when we wonder if God is finally going to fulfill what He said He would do in the last days of the last days. We believe it, of course, but doubts do arise deep in the minds and the hearts of believers.
We must remember that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is dependent entirely on the character of God, the One who spoke these prophecies through Apostles and Prophets. When believers begin to doubt or wonder if these prophecies will really ever be fulfilled, it is time to step back and look carefully at the One who made them. God’s attributes are the guarantee that prophecy will be completely fulfilled. Theologically, we know that God is greater than the sum total of His attributes, so that we never can or will fully know Him. But as a reminder, we note here some of His attributes that do impact the fulfillment of prophecy.
God is Sovereign – This means that God is the supreme Being in the universe. There is no individual or group that is greater than God. All the forces of men and angels could never dethrone Him or force Him to alter His plans. God may choose to allow certain things to take place, according to the natural laws that He Himself has put in place. But His declared purposes can in no way be thwarted by His creation. His sovereignty includes the truths that He is absolute in His knowledge, power and freedom to act. Those prophetic events that He says will take place, will indeed take place because there is no person or force capable of resisting His plans or His power.
God is Truth – Truth is that which conforms to fact or reality. As an attribute of God, it speaks of Him seeing things as they really are; that His revelations about Himself are consistent and totally accurate, and that His revelations about all things, including prophecy, are also accurate and can be relied on. So, His promises will never fail or be unfulfilled, and His prophetic statements are not going to fail or remain unfulfilled. He can be trusted. He does not lie or deceive. And, as He has done, when He swears by Himself on oath that He will do this or that, then we have the greatest evidence that the God of Truth will do it.
God is Omniscient – God knows everything; which includes all things that actually are, as well as everything that is possible. He does not learn new things. A.W. Tozer noted that “He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed.” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 62). So, His pronouncements about coming events are true, accurate and will never need to be adjusted. Some new fact is not going to come to light which mandates an adjustment in the future plan. The prophetic word which has been proclaimed will be the word that is fulfilled completely, with no mid-course corrections to be made.
God is Omnipotent – In the Scriptures, God is often called “the Almighty”; meaning that God is all powerful, and His power never diminishes over time. Therefore, all things are possible and there is nothing too hard for God. However, He does not do anything that is inconsistent with His nature (such as, lying or being involved in sinful deeds). He can do all things that are in harmony with His nature and purposes. So, when God declares that He is going to do remarkable, supernatural, miraculous things in the future, He has all the power to do them. This is a great encouragement to His people. And, it is an important reminder that fulfillment of prophecy is never a question of the lack of power to do them. The question is usually one of God’s timing, which is always impeccable.
God is Immutable – This is the wonderful truth that God does not change. Over time, He does not mature nor does He decline. He is perfect in all ways, and perfection cannot be improved on. Practically, this informs us that God’s love for us is not going to be different next year than it was last year. He is not going to be more or less righteous, or powerful, or truthful tomorrow. Immutability assures us that God’s statements about coming events in this world are not going to change. So, people cannot bribe, coerce or do anything which will bring about change in God’s nature, and therefore, His plans.
God is Holy – God is “set apart” from all that is evil or unclean, and He Himself is absolutely pure. Holiness is the complete absence of evil and the presence of righteousness. Because all people are sinful (sin is anything that is contrary to the character of God), they are, therefore, separated from God. But if they receive God’s righteousness which comes to believing people because of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross then they can have fellowship with the holy God now and in all eternity. Holiness also means that everything God does is free from any taint of evil or uncleanness. So, in a sense, His justice flows out of His holiness. Holiness requires that God deal in justice with his creation, which includes keeping His word about what He said He would do. This means that He will justly judge all men and angels and evaluate them and deal with them according to His righteous standard. And prophecy has much to say about that.
God is Love – One of the great attributes of God is love; that is, He seeks the best for the one loved. God wants our everlasting welfare. The grand purpose of God is to bring people into that glorious, Edenic state which He Himself declared to be “very good.” This is the desired goal of His love; therefore, the Son of God came to die and pay for the sins of mankind. God sought our best so that we could love Him and enjoy Him forever in the prophesied future, forever kingdom of God. His love will be demonstrated in a magnificent way in His future kingdom. But, contrary to some unbiblical teaching, God does not and cannot set aside or modify any of His other attributes in order to “love”. Part of His love is His goodness. He is a good God. This means that God’s nature is to be benevolent, kind and to bestow blessings on people. His goodness will be revealed in the future kingdom where good gifts are given to His children. The future messianic age on this earth plus the following eternal kingdom of God on the new earth will be “very good.”
So, with a God like this, should we doubt that He will do what He says He will do? Is there a place for thinking that Satan and his minions, as well as his human collaborators, will somehow thwart God’s prophetic plans and purposes? In our weariness, we may say “how long, O Lord, holy and true” before you do what you promised, but there is no question that He will do what He promised because of who He is.