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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Know, Hear, Wait, Arise and Go

Readings: Genesis 15     Isaiah 40 

           Abram’s vision from Yahweh  terrified him. The might of God, the ability to tell of the future, the vengeance of God, is shown in vivid detail to him. Who would not be afraid of this God?  
Up to this point Abram had not seen God in action. He had only listened to God telling him to leave his family, his home, and his country. Now, God told Abram his future, being the father of many nations. Yahweh also told Abram the future for His children, Israel, and the punishment for humankind for disobedience, annihilation. In the midst of this, Abram was able to perceive the love of God, a God who not only calls out, but who protects and provides for His chosen ones. No wonder terror filled Abram. Abram glimpsed the judgment and wrath of God and, at the same time, the love and compassion of God. For people of that time, gods were neither loving, nor compassionate, but were an entity to be appeased. For Abram, this was a personal revelation.   

How awesome to be in the midst of God and be made privilege to receive a vision or word from God. The awesomeness comes from the fact almighty God deigns to speak to you, a created being, and shows His power and His heart. It is almost more than a human can take. No wonder when we read in the Bible of someone having had an encounter with God, their faces are aglow and they tell the tale of having had to hide. The glory of the Lord was too great for them to experience. It can be dumbfounding. “Awesome” describes this meeting.  

Abraham received this vision from God; he received a covenant promise from God. Next, though, we hear of Abraham taking matters into his own hands. He knew he had no heir yet, after God’s promise, so he took matters into his hands and lay with Hagar, his wife, Sarah’s, maid. Abraham could not wait the thirteen years for God’s timing, the right time, to create an heir for Abraham, a father of nations. He listened to his doubts and the counsel of his wife, Sarah, and lay with Hagar.   

Do we take matters into our own hands when we sense God must have meant for us to do the work He called us to do in our own strength? Do we strive to become the person we feel He meant for us to be? How many of us have forsaken patience and taken matters into our own hands? When God gives you a Word, wait on it. Seeking “wise” counsel from other humans, other created beings, is a downgrading of God’s counsel. Human counsel cannot understand nor make God’s Word to you come true. Other people cannot understand what God meant when He spoke to you. Wait. Be still and trust God. When the time is right, God will make the Word He gave you come to be.   

How easy for us to get busy for God. How many, upon recognizing and accepting Jesus as his or her Savior, rush to “work” for God just because “someone has to do it?” How many of us, even though we have been following Him for years, still jump in and do ministry instead of waiting for Him to tell us where He wants to use us? God did not bring to pass His Word to Abraham for thirteen years. He did not bring to pass David’s taking over the throne of Israel for nearly twenty years. During those intervening years, God was not sitting on his hands. He was busy preparing these men for His service. God was teaching them to trust Him completely. He taught them how to be leaders, how to be followers, how to be faithful in the midst of trials, how to stay tuned to and perceive His voice, and how to wait for Him to give His direction when to go and what to do. When Abraham applied human effort  to fulfill God’s promise, because of God’s seeming delay, he failed God. A new nation, the Moabites, was born of Abram’s union with Hagar. These Moabites became the thorn in Israel’s side through the centuries. We must wait. Waiting can be wearying, at times, to wait. Waiting appears to humans as inaction; however, in the peace of waiting, we learn many things; we grow.   

God spoke through Isaiah in chapter 40 regarding being in His service. If you think waiting is hard, then in the times to come, calamity and trials will find you disarmed. God had to encourage His people through Isaiah when he spoke in chapter 40, “Comfort my people.” You need to be familiar with God’s heart, His strength, and His purpose before you can go up against the foes of God. How will you understand this unless God prepares you for His purpose? In the walk with God, battles will become great and exhaustion and pain will look unending. You must know God well enough not to give up the fight and the walk. You must know the Comforter, the Warrior and Avenger, and the Provider before you can comprehend in your head, heart, and spirit God will be there with you and for you. Isaiah spoke in his book to remind God’s people He was still there and fighting for them. God had not forgotten or forsaken them. Yahweh said He had provided a place under His wing for them, and for them to take shelter and understand He is God. He said because they were walking and fighting for Him, they would run and not grow weary. “Wait for the Lord,” He said. Gain new strength, mount up with wings, run, and walk, for the Lord your God is with you, goes before you, and carries you.   

This was not just a promise for the Israelites, but a promise for today. God was foretelling, through Isaiah, He would send One who will lay mountains down and raise valleys up. He will be the One who fights for us and does not grow weary or tired. God is the One who will come after the voice crying out in the wilderness. This One is Jesus, the prophesied Messiah, and the Savior of humanity. If you have not waited for God to say go, then you have found yourself grow weary. You have most likely not heard much from God since then other than the small stirring within you, which tells you to return to God. God has already had One go before Him (Isaiah 40), now He wants someone to follow Him and declare the way of the Lord. 
We must be still and comprehend with our heart, soul, and mind He is God. We must be still and understand when and to what He is calling us. God is growing us as He makes us wait. He is making sure we recognize Him well enough so when the fighting for “right” gets fierce, we are acquainted with Him, really recognize Him, and are strong because He is beside us, before us, and behind us. If God is for us, who can be against us? This is the promise God gives us.