Waiting For His Counsel
But they soon forgot his works, they did not wait for his counsel.(Psalm 106:13)
God wonderful You redeemed His people Israel, and was prepared as wonderfully to supply their every need. But when the time of need came, “ they waited not for his counsel”(Psalm 106:13). The Almighty God was their leader and Provider; but they asked not what His plans might be. They simply thought the thoughts of their own hearts, and tempted and provoked God by their unbelief.
This has been the sin of God’s people in all ages! In the land of Canaan,in the days of Joshua, the only three failures of which we read were owing to this one sin. They waited not for His counsel in going up against Ai, then in making a covenant with the Gibeonites, then in settling down without going up to possess the land.
Even the advanced believer is in danger from this most subtle of temptations. Let us be warned. And let us very specially regard it as a danger not only to the individual, but to God’s people in their collective capacity.
Our whole relation to God is ruled like this, that His will is to be done in us and by us as it is in heaven. He has promised to make known His will to us by His Spirit, the Guide into all truth. And our position is to be that of waiting for His counsel as the only guide of our thoughts and actions. In our church worship, in our prayer meetings, in all our gatherings in any part of the work for God, our first object ought ever to be to a certain the mind of God.
God always works according to the counsel of His will; the more that counsel of His will is sought and found and honored, the more surely and mightily will God do His work for us and through us.
Far too much is our method of decision making the usage of meetings and discussions. Often our decisions are based on the current fads, observing what others are doing and following suit, or bringing into the decision worldly counsel. Much of our failures as the people of God seem to stem from these methods. It has been said that perfect knowledge leads to perfect decisions. The unfortunate thing is that we rarely ever if at all have full knowledge of the pieces that influence good decisions. So we make decisions based on partial or imperfect knowledge of the facts. We forget that God has perfect knowledge of all things including the ability to see the future and the impact that a certain decision will have far beyond our scope of comprehension. Murray pointed out the three failures of the Israelites and they come into Canaan. All three were major with major consequences and all three occurred because they chose to make their plans and decisions without seeking the counsel of God. I wonder how many poor decisions the church has made due to this same course of action? No one besides God knows the future. But He does know it.
I want to mention three occasions where people brought their situation to God and waited for His counsel before moving on a course of action. In each of these we will see a better outcome than they could have imagined. I pray they will teach us to seek and wait upon the counsel of God. Perhaps if we spent as much time in prayer about matters as we do with meetings and researching what others are doing, we too might find ourselves in better position and success in the work of God, individually and collectively.
Our first story is found in 2 Chronicles. The Israelites during the reign of Jehoshaphat have received communication from a delegation of three nations who have united to conquer them. Realizing that this is beyond their scope of capability, under the leadership of Jehoshaphat, they bring the letter to the temple where it is read.
“So [the people of] Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord [longing for Him with all their heart].”
2 Chronicles 20:4
Jehoshaphat offers a prayer to the Lord(read 2 Chronicles 20:5-12). At the end of his prayer:
“So all Judah stood before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children. Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph. He said, “Listen carefully, all [you people of] Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: ‘Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Go down against them tomorrow. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the river valley, in front of the Wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; take your positions, stand and witness the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.’” Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping Him. The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
2 Chronicles 20:13-19
The next day, God gave further specific instructions and Israel was saved. The instructions were far beyond human wisdom or understanding and in the eyes of human thought were foolish.
“When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in their holy (priestly) attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Praise and give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.” When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were struck down [in defeat]. For the sons of Ammon and Moab [suspecting betrayal] rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, completely destroying them; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.”
2 Chronicles 20:21-23
Now whoever thought of singing and playing instruments as weapons of war? God did. So too, the solution to our situation may well be way beyond the scope of our thinking but not beyond God’s creativity.
Our second story is in the book of Acts.
“After Peter and John were released, they returned to their own [people] and reported everything that the chief priests and elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “O Sovereign Lord [having complete power and authority], it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.”
The fledgling church has hardly begun, God is doing mighty things through it and because the religious community has never seen such, they in their human wisdom attempt to shut it down. Peter and John have been used by God in a lame man’s healing. The reaction by the religious leaders is negative and they are commanded to cease preaching Christ. They come back to the church. There are no committees formed to decide what the appropriate response will be. Instead they bring the matter before God in prayer and God answers. Acts says that the place was shaken, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the message of Christ with boldness and the church grew. Only God could plan such a thing in light of the pressure of the religious community and its leaders.
Our third story is also found in Acts. By this time Peter has given the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile. He and his household have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and then baptized by water into the church. We must remember that the early church’s membership was comprised of Jews. Gentiles up to this point we’re not invited. Not long after this Paul is converted and called as a missionary to the Gentiles. As things go, it wasn’t long before a contention rose in the church. Imagine that. A council was called in Jerusalem to determine whether the Gentile converts would become Jewish proselytism and therefore subject to Jewish rites and rituals or whether they were to be received as members of the church solely based on their receiving Christ as their Savior and the evidence of that their receiving of the Holy Spirit. Much debate occurred.
“Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed greatly and debated with them, so it was determined that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others from their group would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders [and confer with them] concerning this issue. After a long debate, Peter got up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the message of the gospel and believe. All the people remained silent, and they listened [attentively] to Barnabas and Paul as they described all the signs and wonders (attesting miracles) that God had done through them among the Gentiles. So we have sent Judas and Silas, who will report by word of mouth the same things [that we decided in our meeting]. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials:”
Humanly speaking, there was no way that Jewish thought could transformed to envelop such a concept after years of indoctrination. But listen to the words of James: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us…” Notice the order, first it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, then good to us. Whatever we decide, it must first be good to the Holy Spirit. There are many things that may seem good to us but the acid test is whether or not they seem good to God. Every decision should be made only after consulting and waiting on God to give instruction. Just maybe we ought to spend more time in prayer meetings rather that sitting around tables debating our human views. We might just be surprised at God’s solution to all these things we face. We might even find ourselves engaged in ways to do the work of God that is beyond our human imagination. Whatever the case, let us wait on the counsel of God.
Dr. John Thompson