by Mike Glenn
One of the most popular passages of scripture in the religious world is Isaiah 40:31. I see it almost everywhere: on t-shirts, bumper stickers, wall art, necklaces and bracelets. I even have a Frisbee that sets on a shelf in my office with that verse on it. I used this text in my sermon yesterday, but it also happens to be the first study of the month for the e-bulletins.
What does it mean to wait on the Lord? It almost sounds like we should be passive–just sit back and let the Lord do his stuff and we will take what comes. Perhaps there is some very small amount of truth to that. But the verse contains much more exhortation to action than to sitting still.
In Isaiah 39, Isaiah has just told Hezekiah that his children and their generation will be carried away into Babylonian captivity. The primary reason for this captivity is Israel’s infatuation with idolatry (alluded to in 40:18-20). But the prophet tells them that they (Israel) have not been abandoned by God as they seem to have supposed (40:27). Rather, after they have paid for their sin in the captivity (40:2), the everlasting and omnipotent God, who has been aware of all that has transpired shall once again give His people the opportunity to once again have the benefits of his strength. Thus, the promise that if we will wait on the Lord, he will give us his unending strength and stamina. This is much like Ephesians 3:20. So, it is important to know what it means to wait on the Lord.
I presented these four thoughts Sunday that I believe are at least part of what it means to wait on the Lord.
A person must wait on God to lead before pushing ahead.
As humans, we tend decide and go ahead based on our own thinking and reasoning. But, “Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). So, our first thought in every course of action should be to ask the question, “Which way would the Lord lead me.”
As with Israel of old, we ought not to move until the cloud is taken up off the tabernacle (Exod. 40:36-37). David decided that he wanted to build God a temple and talked to the prophet Nathan about it. Nathan apparently (in his own reasoning) thought that was a wonderful idea and told David to go ahead (2 Sam. 7:1-6). While it was a good thought on the part of David (1 Kgs. 8:18), God rebuked Nathan and David for making the decision without consulting Him. Joshua made a treaty (league) with the Gibeonites against God’s will because He failed to ask God first (Joshua 9:14-18).
We are blessed today to have the Bible as a reference of where God leads us in our character, our marriages, our parenting, our workmanship, our evangelism, and our morality. We cannot afford to be neglectful of where God leads us. Also, we have God’s leadership as he answers our prayers (1 Jn. 3:22, 5:14-15). If we would rise as on wings of eagles, we cannot fail to pray to God for leadership in every decision and work of our life.
Second, not only must we wait on God to lead, we must follow where He does lead.
I have studied with many people, who, at the beginning of the study commit themselves to letting God wherever He says in His word. Yet, when they see and acknowledge what He says, they will still often decline to obey. Such people are not waiting on the Lord.
A large group of Jewish Christians were starting to decide they were not so committed as they had been to following God’s lead. They had come to realize that waiting on the Lord included suffering (Heb. 10:32-39, 12:1-12; 2 Tim. 2:12, 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:12). The book of Hebrew was written in order to convince them to continue following the Lord’s lead no matter the consequences on earth (Heb. 11:13-16, 12:25-29; Matt. 16:26).
Paul explained what it means to follow God’s lead when He said, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Brothers and sisters, even when it is hard, even when it hurts, even when it makes no sense to us, even when the brethren think we’re nuts, let’s follow the Lord’s control.
I am sorry that this is starting to run a little long.
The third ingredient in waiting on the Lord is to trust God’s leading.
Consider that Israel did not trust in the command to take the land of Canaan (Exod. 13). Many do not today in regard to seeking the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), drawing lines of sin (1 Cor. 5). Do you trust that you can always do what God says, no matter the cost to you and it will still be all right? Remember that God promises victory and not ease (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
A fourth point to be made is that if we wait on the Lord, we will never quit (1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9; Rev. 2:10).
We will never need to, for we will run and not be weary. We shall rise up as eagles.