Therefore Yahweh will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you, for Yahweh is a God of judgment (justice). Blessed are all those who wait for him. **** Isaiah 30:18
Haven't you known? Haven't you heard? The everlasting God, Yahweh, The Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn't faint. He isn't weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might. Even the youths faint and get weary, and the young men utterly fall; But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint. **** Isaiah 40:28-31
You don't need to be able to understand the original Greek and Hebrew language or have a degree in Exegetical Theology to understand what the phrase, "wait for the Lord (Yahweh)" means. How many of us have had a friend, wife or other loved one who has told us, "I will meet you at such-and-such a time at such-and-such a place. WAIT FOR ME THERE". If we know them to be reliable and/or dependable, we will wait for them, even if they are late, knowing that they will be there !! There MAY be some confusion for you readers of the King James version, where the phrase is rendered, "wait UPON the Lord". To many minds, "wait upon" means "to serve", as a servant "waits upon his master". However, the TRUE rendering is as stated above, and is the wording in other bible translations.
Now, failing to "wait for the Lord" can arise from MANY causes. The simplest is that we simply do NOT TRUST the Lord to act in what WE perceive to be OUR best interest, or for that matter, to act AT ALL !! This is, in its most basic form, lack of FAITH and TRUST in Him.
Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. **** Hebrews 11:6
He must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways. **** James 1:6-8
A somewhat more complicated cause can be IMPATIENCE or incompatible "time reference". We trust and believe in God's Word (general AND specific to us), but, like most of mankind (especially today), we want results and answers NOW -- TODAY !! When He delays, and doesn't act according to OUR timetable, we tend to take matters into our OWN hands and attempt to "help God out".
Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. **** 2 Peter 3:8,9
Sometimes, however, God's (seeming) delay in providing the answer or guidance that we are seeking may be a matter of "logistics". God already knows the ENTIRE plan AND timetable. It may be that before He can provide the CORRECT guidance, various circumstances, events and people need to come into proper alignment. It is rather like building a house. It can not commence until all of the materials and subcontractors have been gathered together, and then it must occur in proper sequence -- foundation, frame, roof, outer walls, etc. No matter how big of a hurry YOU or I may be in, God can NOT construct the roof before the supporting structure is complete !!
There is a "deeper reality" that can ONLY be seen through the "eyes of the Spirit", namely, that WE (God's children) are that "house" which He is building !! As a plant does not go from seed to full growth overnight, but rather according to its seasons, God's House is an organic growth which takes time to complete.
Do you not know that you are God's temple (house) and that God's Spirit lives in you?Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? **** 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19
Because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. **** Ephesians 2:20-22
It is often WE who need the development, the growth, the adjustment before we are ready to receive particular guidance and direction from God !! For various reasons, God's Word reveals that "patience and endurance" are VERY important traits in our development.
God's Word uses various similies to describe our journey through THIS life. It is referred to as a "war" against the powers of evil and darkness, in which we must "fight and endure". It is described as a "race" to be run with endurance that we might win the "prize of righteous". It is described as a process of growth and development through which we must endure and overcome opposing forces (natural and spiritual).
I believe that God OFTEN incorporates delays and obstacles into our life SPECIFICALLY as opportunities for us to develop these qualities. After all, one day this ENTIRE "world system" will pass away, but what God has developed within us will endure WITHOUT END. It is NOT the tools, but the end product that He is concerned about !!
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. **** James 1:2-5
I would not be so foolish nor so condescending as to even imply that this process and journey are always easy and pleasant. NO, quite the contrary, at times it can be VERY difficult and painful. What we need is a VISION, a PURPOSE firmly fixed in our mind, heart and spirit as to WHAT we are seeking and growing toward. Scripture says that THIS was what gave both Jesus and the Apostle Paul the endurance to achieve their respective goals.
Above all, remember this, the battle is NOT ours -- it is God who works within to perfect us !!
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. **** Galatians 2:20
So then, my beloved, ...... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. **** Philippians 2:12-13
We must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. **** Hebrews 12:1-3
For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance. **** Romans 8:18,19,25
More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things -- indeed, I regard them as dung! -- that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ's faithfulness -- a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ's faithfulness. My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained this -- that is, I have not already been perfected -- but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. **** Philippians 3:8-14
Sometimes as we seek to serve God, we will experience difficulties similar to what David and Jeremiah of Israel did. At times their efforts to seek and to serve God were EXTREMELY painful -- they were misunderstood, ridiculed and even misused by those around them, apparently even those that they considered to be close to them (see Psalm 69 and Jeremiah 20:7-10).
At other times we may look at OUR situation (which may look VERY bleak and hard at the moment) vs. MANY of the UNrighteous and UNgodly about us (who appear to prosper and be at ease) and wonder, "What is the use or value in seeking and serving God??" (see Psalm 73 and Job 21)
Like David, OUR solution is to draw NEARER to God and learn MORE of Him and His ways and plans, and who WE are to Him!
When I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling to me. Then I entered the precincts of God's temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked. **** Psalm 73:16,17
I am sure that there are MANY reasons why God deals with us EXACTLY as He does, and ONLY He knows them for certain. However, I firmly believe that ONE reason is that He wants us to COME to Him, to LEARN of Him -- of His ways and what He is like (His mind). He also wants us to come to TRUST Him, and YES, to OBEY Him (after all, He truly DOES know what is best and right for us) !! It seems that as far back as the beginning in the garden, mankind's failure was to TRUST God and OBEY Him.
Scripture tells us over and over that merely LISTENING to God's Word and granting it mental assent and approval, claiming that we "believe in God" and even that we "LOVE Him", is of NO or LESS than no value if we do not incorporate an active obedience and "living according" to that Word and the Living Spirit of God into our lives.
Then Samuel said, "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly obedience is better than sacrifice ...." **** 1 Samuel 15:22
You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that -- and tremble with fear. **** James 2:19
If you love me (Jesus), you will obey my commandments **** John 14:15
By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down. **** 1 John 5:2,3
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven -- only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!' Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does NOT do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!"
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from (of) me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. **** Matthew 7:21-27;11:28-30
For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does. **** James 1:23-25
Scripture shows us examples of people who refused to wait on God's timetable and acted prematurely, giving God a "helping hand" by going ahead with THEIR plans. The results ALWAYS spelled disaster !!
The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them". So Moses set out with Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. He told the elders, "Wait for us in this place until we return to you. Here are Aaron and Hur with you. Whoever has any matters of dispute can approach them" Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. Moses went into the cloud when he went up the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, "Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!" **** Exodus 24:12-18;32:11
He waited for seven days, the time period indicated by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the army began to abandon Saul. So Saul said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings"" Then he offered a burnt offering. Just when he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared on the scene. Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. Samuel said, "What have you done?" Saul replied, "When I saw that the army had started to abandon me and that you didn't come at the appointed time and that the Philistines had assembled at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt obligated to offer the burnt offering"" Then Samuel said to Saul, "You have made a foolish choice! You have not obeyed the commandment that the Lord your God gave you. Had you done that, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever! But now your kingdom will not continue! The Lord has sought out for himself a man who is loyal to him and the Lord has appointed him to be leader over his people, for you have not obeyed what the Lord commanded you"" **** 1 Samuel 13:8-14
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram! I am your shield and the one who will reward you in great abundance"" But Abram said, "O sovereign Lord, what will you give me since I continue to be childless, and my heir is Eliezer of Damascus?" But look, the word of the Lord came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir". The Lord took him outside and said, "Gaze into the sky and count the stars -- if you are able to count them!" Then he said to him, "So will your descendants be"" Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty. So after Abram had lived in Canaan for ten years, Sarai, Abram's wife, gave Hagar, her Egyptian servant, to her husband to be his wife. He had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. So Hagar gave birth to Abram's son, whom Abram named Ishmael. (Now Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.) When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am the sovereign God. Walk before me and be blameless. Then I will confirm my covenant between me and you, and I will give you a multitude of descendants". Then God said to Abraham, "As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name. I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. Kings of countries will come from her!" The Lord visited Sarah just as he had said he would and did for Sarah what he had promised. So Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that God had told him. Abraham named his son -- whom Sarah bore to him -- Isaac. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded him to do. (Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.) **** Genesis 15,17,21 (selected)
According to Scripture, Isaac was the TRUE and intended son that Abraham was to have. Apparently Sarai, Abram's wife, felt that she was unable to conceive a child, so she offered to "help out" God's promise by giving Hagar, her Egyptian servant, to her husband to be his wife. From this lack of "waiting for the Lord", or trusting explicitly in His word, came one of Israel's greatest tragedies -- the Arab-Israeli wars -- which have raged on-and-on for thousands of years !! From it is also derived the phrase "giving birth to an Ishmael", which means a contamination of God's purpose by man's effort or contribution.
According to the Islamic view of Ishmael, he is a prophet in Islam. The Qur'an considers him to be a son of Abraham. His name appears twelve times in the Qur'an, mostly in lists with other prophets "as part of a litany of remembrances in which the pre-Islamic prophets are praised for their resolute steadfastness and obedience to God, often in the face of adversity." Most Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of the Northern Arab people, excluding Arabs who are descendants of Ya'rub. Arabs who are from Ishmael-descendant tribes are occasionally referred to as "Arabized-Arabs" to highlight their ancestry. The Prophet Muhammad was of these Arabs.
Second, we have a far more insidious form of "following God's commands, guidance or instruction". YES, we follow them IN PART, while making modifications that, TO US, seem like improvements on the plan or "what God REALLY meant to say" !!
Here is what the Lord of hosts says: ...... "So go now and strike down the Amalekites. Destroy everything that they have. Don't spare them." So Saul assembled the army and mustered them at Telaim. Then Saul struck down the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, which is next to Egypt. He captured King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he executed all Agag's people with the sword. However, Saul and the army spared Agag, along with the best of the flock, the cattle, the fatlings, and the lambs, as well as everything else that was of value. They were not willing to slaughter them. But they did slaughter everything that was despised and worthless. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned away from me and has not done what I told him to do." Then Samuel got up early to meet Saul the next morning. When Samuel came to him, Saul said to him, "May the Lord bless you! I have done what the Lord said." Samuel replied, "If that is the case, then what is this sound of sheep in my ears and the sound of cattle that I hear?" Saul said, "They were brought from the Amalekites; the army spared the best of the flocks and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord our God. But everything else we slaughtered." Then Samuel said to Saul, ...... "The Lord sent you on a campaign saying, 'Go and exterminate those sinful Amalekites! Fight against them until you have destroyed them.' Why haven't you obeyed the Lord? Instead you have greedily rushed upon the plunder! You have done what is wrong in the Lord's estimation." Then Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the Lord! I went on the campaign the Lord sent me on. I brought back King Agag of the Amalekites after exterminating the Amalekites. But the army took from the plunder some of the sheep and cattle -- the best of what was to be slaughtered -- to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal." Then Samuel said, "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice." **** 1 Samuel 15:2-22
Another source of missing God's guidance and direction is "presumption" -- relying on past spiritual experience to the point of automatically believing that God has approved of or is behind a certain decision or course of action. In the case of Samson, he had gotten himself involved with the Philistines, one of Israel's inveterate enemies and, more specifically, with "the wrong woman" (read Judges 13-16). He didn't even realize that God's spirit had left him !!
She said, "The Philistines are here, Samson!" He woke up and thought, "I will do as I did before and shake myself free"" He did not realize that the Lord had left him. The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him in bronze chains. He became a grinder in the prison. The rulers of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate. When they really started celebrating, they said, "Call for Samson so he can entertain us!" They made him stand between two pillars. Samson called to the Lord, "O Master, Lord, remember me! Strengthen me just one more time, O God, so I can get swift revenge against the Philistines for my two eyes!" Samson took hold of the two middle pillars that supported the temple and he leaned against them, with his right hand on one and his left hand on the other. Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" He pushed hard and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people in it. He killed many more people in his death than he had killed during his life. **** Judges 16:20-30
Finally we come to what might be called, "rendering lip-service to God". We seek His counsel, but when He answers, we reject it because it seems TO US to be foolish, impractical, too dangerous, or simply contrary to what WE have already decided to do.
The Lord said, "This people draws near with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught." **** Isaiah 29:13
They answered Jeremiah, "May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not do just as the Lord sends you to tell us to do. We will obey what the Lord our God to whom we are sending you tells us to do." Ten days later the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. So Jeremiah summoned Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people of every class. Then Jeremiah said to them, "You sent me to the Lord God of Israel to make your request known to him. Here is what he says to you: "If you will just stay in this land, I will build you up. I will not tear you down. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear. You must not say, 'No, we will not stay. Instead we will go and live in the land of Egypt' All the people who are determined to go and settle in Egypt will die from war, starvation, or disease. No one will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them." Jeremiah finished telling all the people all these things. Then Azariah son of Hoshaiah, Johanan son of Kareah, and other arrogant men said to Jeremiah, "You are telling a lie! The Lord our God did not send you to tell us, You must not go to Egypt and settle there." Instead Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led off all the Judean remnant who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led off all the men, women, children, and royal princesses that Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, had left with Gedaliah. They went on to Egypt because they refused to obey the Lord, and came to Tahpanhes. **** Jeremiah 42:5-17;43:1-7
In closing, you may be asking, "Why is it SO important that I wait for guidance from God ?? After all, I DO have a brain and certain talents and abilities. I CAN make my own choices and decisions !!" YES, you DO and YES, you CAN, and that is EXACTLY the problem that has been addressed in the examples given in this essay !!
It is a VERY hard thing for us humans to accept (and the ONE point that makes following Jesus unique from all of the "religions" of the world). God's Word tells us that ALL of our human thoughts, desires and actions are TAINTED and corrupt (YES, that is correct -- ALL of them) with SELF will, SELF desire and SELF interest !! That is the point of God's "salvation" -- that, by His Spirit, we might be renewed and realigned toward what we were created to be -- vessels that can contain, be guided by and display the Glory of HIS Spirit !!
I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me -- and I in him -- bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. **** John 15:5
Jesus gives us the supreme example of our need to "wait for God":
While He (Jesus) was with them, He declared, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. Tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit ...... So those who accepted his (Peter's) message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, ...... and the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved. **** Acts 1:4,5;2:1-4,41,46