But how is God’s forbearance good? If God forbears, he must refrain from something. Is judgment what God refrains from, if the sinner does not die immediately? Yes, God refrains from judgment. But what is judgment? This question is answered by a couple negative questions from Jesus. Negative questions, here, means questions asked that have a negative answer. For instance, Jesus asks, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cries to him day and night? Will he delay long over them (Luke 18:7)? “But,” as the apostle Peter adds, “by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” Thus, judgment is justice for evil and righteous people.
Forbearance as Good
However, judgment regarding the ungodly, is the very thing God does not want. That is to say, he desires that no one dies from their lawlessness. Accordingly, the desire of God is to see everyone turn to him. He, as Isaiah says, “waits to be gracious to us, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to us. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18). Isaiah highlights that God not only forbears judgment; he forbears judgment because he loves us. Furthermore, he forbears judgement so justice can be done to everyone, especially the ungodly. If this is the case, it seems that God’s forbearance only helps the ungodly. Yet what is the harm in this? If God only forbears because of the ungodly, why should we think this forbearance is no longer good? Does such an attitude put us in the same category as the ungodly? Shouldn’t we also want God to forbear his judgment for the ungodly? Shouldn’t we have the same desire as God to forbear judgment on the ungodly?