Wait Upon the Lord
God wants to be known, He wants to be recognized, He wants to have a relationship with us. Why? Because He Loves us.
I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.Revelation 3:19-22
So with all this evidence, with all the visible signs that every single person on the planet can see and know, why is it that we still just go through the motions? How can we change our hearts so that we consistently follow God’s laws?
Answer: stop fighting, give in, submit to God, knowing that He loves you. How easy and how wonderful if we could just fall into His lap and know that He was going to take care of everything.
Read Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Ok, so now we have this peace … this unbelievable peace that God grants to those who believe and pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. I’ve actually even accepted God’s peace a couple of times, but then something happens, something disturbs me peace, something breaks through and pulls me away from that peace that God gives me and I end up angry, or depressed, or confused. So what do we do now?
Read Psalms 27:13-14 (KJV): “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
So first we have peace…now we wait.
Webster defines the word wait as follows: “to stay in a place or remain inactive or in anticipation until something expected takes place.”
Good definition, stay inactive, in anticipation until something expected takes place. What do we expect when we wait upon the Lord? Scripture has a number of references to waiting upon the Lord. We sing about it all the time.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.Isaiah 40:28-31
I’ve done some studying on the word “wait” used in this verse. Steven Wickstrom wrote an article that says the following:
The word, wait, is the Hebrew word, “qavah.” The word, “qavah,” has two definitions or meanings. It has both a literal and a figurative meaning. The literal meaning of the word is “to bind together like a cord.” First let me explain what “to bind together like a cord” does NOT mean. It does not mean to tie a cord around a bundle of sticks to keep them together. Instead, picture in your mind the process of making a rope (cord) by twisting or weaving (binding) small strings together to form the rope. The more strands that are twisted or woven together in a rope, the greater is its strength. Ah, there’s that word strength again. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “[…] a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Now I’ve made rope before, to make a rope, for it to have any strength, you have to weave lots of little pieces of string together, twisting and weaving, over and over and adding more strands to gain strength. Once you weave it together, you have to twist it and pull it hard enough that the strands begin to knot up, otherwise, it all just unravels once you let go. How can we twist and weave God into our lives? How many strands do we need to have in our rope to give us the strength to meet every challenge?
Steven goes on to say:
The literal definition of “qavah” implies strength through numbers. The more strands in your rope, the greater its strength. Just as a rope’s strength comes from being made of many strands, so our strength comes through being united with Christ. The “rope” of our lives gains strength by being twisted or woven or bound together with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The figurative definition of the word “qavah” is “to wait, to hope, to expect.”
John Oswalt, an OT scholar, notes that “waiting on the Lord” implies two things.
- Complete dependence on God
- A willingness to allow Him to decide the terms
to wait on him is to admit that we have no other help, either in ourselves or in another … [it is] to declare our confidence in his eventual action on our behalf. Thus waiting is not merely killing time but a life of confident expectation.Oswalt, New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Isaiah Chapters 40-66, p. 74
Now, I think that we can wait, or hope or expect for a long time, but if we do not have strength, if our lives aren’t bound up with God, woven in and inseparable from God, then waiting might be a bit pointless. Some of the verses in scripture that tell us to wait upon the Lord, and how to do so:
- Psalms 130:5 (KJV): “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his Word do I hope.” (Stay in His Word)
- Proverbs 20:22 (KJV): “Say not thou, I will recompense” [repay evil for] “evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” (Don’t get angry, or seek revenge.)
- Psalm 123:2: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” (Expect God to have mercy and love.)
- Isaiah 8:17: “And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” (Pray, seek, listen.)
- Isaiah 30:18: “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”
- Jeremiah 14:22: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” (Know that God is God, and He can do all things.)
So many people use the figurative definition when they try and talk about “waiting” on the Lord, and that’s fine, we should wait, hope and expect. However, I think He means more then just the figurative; I think God wants us to understand the literal meaning of the word “gavah” and how we can apply it to our lives.
I went to a breakfast last Saturday, the guest speaker was the new (relatively) Bishop of SC for the Episcopalian Church. He said a couple of interesting things, one of them was this: Winston Churchhill had a saying, “Play for more than you can afford to lose, it’s the only way you really know the game.”
For us to “really” learn to wait on the Lord, I think we have to play for more then we can afford to lose. Job waited on the Lord, knowing that God was the only one that could save him. Moses waited on the Lord … who else or what other power could ever have delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, or kept them alive and whole as a nation for 40 years in the wilderness? David waited on the Lord his entire life. Depending on God to deliver him from impossible situations.
Psalm 37, a psalm of David.
Don't worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart's desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don't worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper —
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.
The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly.
Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.
But the wicked will die.
The Lord's enemies are like flowers in a field —
they will disappear like smoke.
The wicked borrow and never repay,
but the godly are generous givers.
Those the Lord blesses will possess the land,
but those he curses will die.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.
For the Lord loves justice,
and he will never abandon the godly.
He will keep them safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will die.
The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.
They have made God's law their own,
so they will never slip from his path.
The wicked wait in ambush for the godly,
looking for an excuse to kill them.
But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed
or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.
Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
You will see the wicked destroyed.
I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing
like a tree in its native soil.
But when I looked again, they were gone!
Though I searched for them, I could not find them!
Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.
The Lord rescues the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.
The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them, and they find shelter in him.
So we must learn to wait on the Lord, we must learn to build our ropes, we must learn to strengthen the cords that attach us to God.
Some of the strands that should be in our rope:
- Keep your focus on God.
- Read the Bible daily.
- Pray daily.
- Love your enemy.
- Attend church regularly.
- Learn from Christian friends.
- Tell others about your faith in Jesus Christ.
Can you think of other strands?
In conclusion – if we have love in our hearts, if we love our friends, our family, then we’d better start talking. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we’d better start talking. If we can’t stand the thought of anybody spending eternity in hell, we’d better start talking.