The Certainty of Blessing
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.(Isaiah 49:23)
God seeks to draw us by the most positive assurance that waiting on Him can never be in vain: “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me”(Isaiah 49:23). How strange that, though we should so often experienced it, we are yet so slow to learn that this blessed waiting must and can be the very breath of our life- a continuous resting in God’s presence and His love, an unceasing yielding of ourselves for Him to perfect His work in us.
Listen and meditate, until our heart says with new conviction, “Blessed are all they that wait for him (Isaiah 30:18).
The very prayer of Psalm 25:3- “Let none that wait on thee be ashamed”- shows how we fear that it might not be true. Let us listen to God’s answer, until every fear is banished, and we send back to heaven the words God speaks. Yes, Lord, we believe what You say: “All they who wait for Me will not be ashamed.”
In times when God’s people were in great straits, and to human eyes there were no possibilities of deliverance, God interposed with His word of promise, and pledged His almighty power fro the deliverance of His people. As the God who has Himself undertaken the work of their redemption, He invited them to wait on Him, and assured them that disappointment was impossible.
We, too, are living in days in which there is much in the state of the church that is indescribably sad. Admission all we praise God for, alas, there is much to mourn over! We’re it not for God’s promises, we might well despair. But in His promises the living a God has given and bound Himself to us. He calls us to wait on Him; He assures us we will not be put to shame.
The Bible is filled with stories of those who waited on God and received His promises. Before I share them, I want to say that waiting on God is not the same as idling or doing nothing as we wait. The old saying that God helps those who helps themselves is at least to some degree true. Even as we read the stories of those who waited on God. We see they also were doing what they could as well. Abraham was waiting on God and while he waited for “ that city whose builder and maker was a God”, he began a journey toward the promised land. Even though we might chastise him and Sarah for getting ahead of God and trying to force the promise at the wrong time and the wrong way, we must take note that he was not just sitting idly by waiting.
It is apparent that Abraham was constantly bringing the promises before God. When it finally became clear that Abraham and Sarah could not bring the promise to pass, when it was beyond human ability, God’s mighty power intervened and a ninety year old couple gave birth to a baby boy. While God expects us to do what we are capable of doing, often He wants us to wait expectantly in prayer and seeking Him for the fulfillment of the promise. Jesus told the story of the widow and the unjust judge to illustrate this point.
“Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and had no respect for man. 3 There was a [desperate] widow in that city and she kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice and legal protection from my adversary.’ 4 For a time he would not; but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will give her justice and legal protection; otherwise by continually coming she [will be an intolerable annoyance and she] will wear me out.’” Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says! 7 And will not [our just] God defend and avenge His elect [His chosen ones] who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay [in providing justice] on their behalf? 8 I tell you that He will defend and avenge them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [this kind of persistent] faith on the earth?”
In the story of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, we find that as they waited for the promised deliverance, they continuously cried out to God for deliverance.
“Now it happened after a long time [about forty years] that the king of Egypt died. And the children of Israel (Jacob) groaned and sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out. And their cry for help because of their bondage ascended to God. So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice [of them] and was concerned about them [knowing all, understanding all, remembering all].”
Do you see how even though they could do nothing themselves to change their circumstances that they did not sit down and do nothing? They did what they could. They brought their matter before God continuously. And God heard and responded. Every time we observe Communion we are remembering that we like the Israelites were in bondage to a master, the master of sin, with no way to obtain our freedom. And just as God raised up Moses as a deliverer, He sent His Son, Christ Jesus, to deliver us.
“But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ].”
Many around us are still in the bondage of sin, groping in the darkness and losing their way. O that we the people of God might cry out to Him for their deliverance and that we might make ourselves “incense bearers” heralding the coming of the Deliverer. Let us come before the throne of grace and bring our petition before our God.
The final story I want to share is found in 2 Chronicles 20. In this story, the Israelites are in an impossible situation. The Bible says that three nations have joined together and surrounded Israel with the intent of overthrowing and subjecting them. Jehoshaphat, the king receives a letter stating their intent. Looking at the Israelites ability to withstand the invading armies, he calls a gathering of the people before the temple. He prays what I believe is the most powerful prayer recorded in the Bible outside the prayers of Christ. Read the words of his prayer carefully.
“Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord in front of the new courtyard, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, there is no one able to take a stand against You. O our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Your friend Abraham? They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying, ‘If evil comes on us, or the sword of judgment, or plague, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You ( for Your Name and Your Presence is in this house ) and we will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear and save us.’ Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from the land of Egypt ( for they turned away from them and did not destroy them ), here they are, rewarding us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless against this great multitude which is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” So all Judah stood before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children.”
2 Chronicles 20:5-13
This prayer gives us four things. First, we see that God is declared to be their God and the God of their fathers and the sovereign ruler over all things and that there is none able to stand against Him or His wishes. Second, Jehoshaphat rehearses the history and the promises, reminding God and the people that the land was given to the Israelites and they had built a sanctuary whose purpose was to be their place of refuge in the time of trouble. Third, he brings the case before God and the words are powerful: “here they are, rewarding us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given to us as an inheritance.” Fourth he asks God to rule in the matter, “for we are powerless against this great multitude which is coming against us. We do not know what to to, but our eyes are on you”
And then we read that; “all Judah stood before the Lord”. They waited on God. They had done all they could. They had assembled together before God. They had presented their case. They waited for Him to answer, and He did.
“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. 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.”
2 Chronicles 20:14-15,17-18
O church, let us gather together at the house of God. Let us bring our burdens there. Let us present our case before God with confidence that nothing is too hard for the Lord. Let us wait in expectant prayer for God to speak and for His mighty power to work. Let us not grow weary and discouraged but let us draw nearer to Him day by day while we wait for His response to our cry for help.
There may be delays. He may not come on our schedule but we know when He comes we shall experience greater things than we could imagine.
Dr. John Thompson