We often wonder what the world is coming to; just how long will evil progress in our world? The Bible ought to be at the forefront of our focus when we have such questions. That God wrote the Bible is evident from many of its characteristics, one of which is its controlled way of describing evil in the world. There is no shocked helplessness at the evil acts of men, but rather a reminder that God is in control over the kingdom of men and works according to His own timetable (Daniel 4:25).
Just as farmers wait as long it takes for their crops to mature before they harvest them, God waits until the time is ripe to punish wicked nations. Often we can become anxious and impatient about evil, wondering when God will deal with it. Men in the Bible did this as well. Jeremiah questioned how long God would allow the wicked to prosper (Jeremiah 12:1-4). Habakkuk knew that God was of purer eyes than to behold evil (Hab. 1:13), but was troubled because to him it seemed that God was idly looking at wrongdoing (Hab. 1:2-4). John saw the souls of them who were slain under the altar crying out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10); an evident representation of God’s sense of justice being so sensitive that innocent blood screams out to Him (cf. Genesis 6:4).
God will punish when the time is ripe. In Genesis 15:16, God promised Abraham that his descendants (Israel) would inherit the land where Abraham was sojourning (Canaan), when the iniquity of the present inhabitants (the Amorites) was full. However, before that time Israel would be a servant in the land of Egypt until the time was right for God to judge them (Genesis 15:13-14). God had plans to bless Israel and to punish Egypt and the people of Canaan, but it was all according to His time. When will the iniquity of our nation be full? God alone knows. He sent His Son to save the world “when the fullness of time was come” (Galatians 4:4).
Revelation 14:13-20 portrays an angel being sent forth with instructions to reap the earth with a sharp sickle gathering God’s people for deliverance and the wicked for punishment. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 came when the time was ripe. Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-43 gives a glimpse of the harvest that will take place at the end of time. God harvests when the time is ripe for individuals and nations. He will issue His last and great harvest at the end of time. It is up to us to make sure we are prepared for the reaping when the time is ripe.