Be patient therefore, brothers, to the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth…
Here the apostle inculcates —
I. A PATIENCE THAT, IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS THAT LIFE RIPENS, WAITS. This is taught in the allusion made to harvest. The husbandman waits. He waits from the season of the autumnal till after the vernal rains. These rains, and all the ripening influences of sun and earth succeed each other in unhastened order, tie waits for what is worth the waiting. To him the clusters of the grape, the sheaves of the corn, are "precious fruit." And all the time he waits, he knows that the ripening process is going on.
1. The human race advances to maturity. Notwithstanding the blight of its early spring, and the many perils of all its seasons, the great Restorer points to its harvest when He says, "Then cometh the end."
2. Our individual life is under the same law, the law of growth. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Every life ripens, every life tends to and culminates in a harvest. Towards it in all our seasons we are advancing. To the Christian man the produce, the result of his ever-ripening life, will be in its habits, experiences, and fellowships, a harvest of "precious fruit." Even now he reads pages of his own inner history, which prove that "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope."
II. A. PATIENCE THAT, BY THE HOPE THAT CHRIST WILL COME, IS UPHELD. The expression of patience at which we have been looking is that of a somewhat spiritless resignation. Now we are summoned to a fortitude prepared for all that may happen. "Stablish your hearts." The Septuagint uses the word translated "stablish" to describe the upbearing of the hands of Moses by Aaron and Hur on the mountain. Those two men sustained the prophet's arms from hour to hour till the war was over, and the victory won. So there is a hope which our patience, though often like Moses' hands thus heavy, may be upheld. What hope?" That the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." The "coming of the Lord" may mean at least one of the three things:
1. His coming in some special dispensation of Providence.
2. His coming to judge the world.
3. His coming at our death.
III. A PATIENCE THAT IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE IS UNMURMURING. "The Judge standeth before the door," and though Judge, it is He who was the "Man of sorrows," the "despised and rejected of men." Does not His history, from the stable to the Cross, shame our murmurs? "The Judge standeth before the door," and knows the circumstances and deserts of us all. Before we judge others we need that our eye should, like Christ's, search souls as well as circumstances, and that our hand, like His, should weigh character as well as condition. "The Judge standeth before the door," and will rightly reward our destiny. Dare we anticipate His sentence? Need we?
IV. A PATIENCE THAT IN THE SENSE OF ITS FELLOWSHIPS REJOICES. High among the heroes of the good stand the prophets. Having held communion with God, they have turned to the world of men, and charged with God-given thoughts, have stood and taught in His stead. Thus, theirs has been the dignity not of mere nobility, nor royalty, but of Divinity. Their sufferings have become as famous as their mission — so famous that we are bidden to take them as examples of "suffering affliction." In our sufferings, therefore, we can look round to those that have "spoken in the name of the Lord," and wonderingly ask one and another of them, "Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?" But as eminent as their sorrows is their endurance. When we think of them we reckon them not as sad, unfortunate, pitiable. Listening to the voice that on the mountain pronounced who among men are "blessed," we know that these prophets are indeed blessed.
V. A PATIENCE THAT THROUGH CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S CHARACTER IS ALL-CONQUERING. The expression, "The end of Lord," may mean one of two things, either of which reveals Him as being "very pitiful and of tender mercy."
1. It may mean the termination to which God brings sorrow. For illustration of this, perhaps, Job's name is cited.
2. Or it may mean the object of the Lord in permitting sorrows. Well has it been said that "it is rough work that polishes. Look at the pebbles on the shore! Far inland, where some arm of the sea thrusts itself deep in the bosom of the land and expanding into a salt loch, lies girdled by the mountains, sheltered from the storms that agitate the deep, the pebbles on the beach are rough, not beautiful — angular, not rounded. It is where long white lines of breakers roar, and the rattling shingle is rolled about the strand, that its pebbles are rounded and polished. As in nature, as in the arts, so in the grace: it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their lustre. The more the diamond is cut, the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, their God has no end in view but to perfect His people's graces."
(U. R. Thomas.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.