My Mom and Dad are coming in tonight for a visit. It's been over a week since my wife has seen our son (and almost a week for me), who has been with them since last Thursday. We've been finding lots of other stuff to fill our time today: lesson preparation for Sunday School, paper for seminary, yard work, shopping, and so forth. Needless to say, we CAN'T WAIT to see our son (and Mom and Dad)!
Only God's irony would make tomorrow's lesson on Isaiah 40-66 (we're going through the Bible chronologically). Ironic because my Dad's favorite verse is Isaiah 40:31: "But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Waiting on God always seemed simple enough to understand (although much more difficult to accomplish): simply wait for Him to do whatever it is He is going to do. Easy, right?
Reading through Scripture chronologically has given me a much greater appreciation for the context of individual verses like Isaiah 40:31. Isaiah preached these words to a people who could not get away from the idols that had slowly penetrated society in Judah. These idols led the northern Kingdom (Israel) into Assyrian exile and captivity. Throughout much of the rest of Isaiah, he preaches against these idols as futile (41:21-29), foolish (44:9-20), and impotent (46:5-7). Is there a connection between waiting on God and idolatry?
The Israelites did not make a golden calf until they "saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain." (Exodus 32:1-6). When God would not save Judah from Syria, Ahaz "sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said 'Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.'" (2 Chronicles 28:23). When Assyria had finished with Israel, they began their assault on Judah, many of the inhabitants of which sought refuge and safety not from God, but from Egypt. (Isaiah 30).
The Israelites worshiped a calf instead of waiting on God. Ahaz worshiped the idols of his conquerors instead of waiting on God. Those in Judah who fled to Egypt trusted military strength in numbers instead of trusting God. They moved for salvation before God was ready to provide it. In each instance there was an idol - something which was worshiped or trusted in other than God - and in each instance God was preempted. These are but a few examples.
So are these things meant to occupy our time and assuage that "can't wait" feeling of anxiety and loneliness without our own idols? Are we trusting in them instead of waiting on God? What else do we trust in for salvation and strength instead of waiting on God? Money is just paper and it cannot save us, but do we trust in it for happiness, strength, and the fellowship that 'status' can bring?
Here's a thought (from Isaiah nonetheless): since we broke the Old Covenant with our idols that replaced God, Jesus became the basis of a New Covenant (Isaiah 42:1-9, 48:3-8). Jesus came to pay the penalty for our treachery under the Old Covenant (Isaiah 53:4-12). Shouldn't we trust in that for happiness? God is powerful, rewarding, caring, immeasurable, wise, just, incomparable, creator, all knowing, all powerful, all present, gracious, and merciful (among other things) (Isaiah 40:9-29). Shouldn't we trust in Him for strength? Jesus is Immanuel - God with us (Isaiah 7:10-17). Shouldn't we trust in that for true fellowship?
Our efforts to get to God, find happiness, get through the day accomplishing everything that must be done, and find lasting friendship will wear us out. That's life - it's exhausting. "Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:30-31. Only Jesus can satisfy; only Jesus can strengthen; only Jesus can save.
I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in ethics from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a JD from the University of Arkansas, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.