Friday, August 23, 2013

Waiting on the Lord

Recently, I was asked (challenged?) to study the theme of waiting on/for the Lord as found in the Bible.  The context of the request was an effort to convince me that Christians should be led by "leading of the Spirit," not just from the words of scripture, as a sign of a deepening relationship with the Lord and increased maturity by relying on his direct leading.  The protagonist assured me that this line of thinking was correct because of his own experiences.  To be sure, his abundance of zeal to see his brothers and sisters in Christ grow is admirable.  Who was I to refuse?

I fired up a Bible program (Online Bible)* and found approximately 30 occurrences in the ESV of waiting on or waiting for the Lord.  The majority of passages were in Psalms and Isaiah with a smattering in Lamentations and the Minor Prophets.  Also, there are six to be found in Acts and the Pauline epistles.

In reviewing the context of each passage, the results fell into four general areas:
  • 1.  Impending danger from the unrighteous has caused the person to request rescue, resting on the assurance that God is faithful to deliver.  Justice will come, but in the Lord's own time (Psa 52:9).
  • 2.  The manipulations of the unrighteous are compared to the quiet assurance of the righteous.  There is no immediate threat but an acknowledgment of God's care (Psa 25:3, 5, 21; 27:14; 31:24; 37:7, 9, 34; 62:1, 5; Pro 20:22; Isa 40:31; 51:5).
  • 3.  The nation or the individual is acknowledging the consequences of sin and is looking to the Lord to do what is right according to his character (Psa 38:15; 106:13; 130:5; Isa 33:2; 64:4; Jer 3:25-26; Lam 3:25-26; Hos 12:6; Mic 7:7).
  • 4.  God's people are to have a long-range approach to life, always looking for the final coming of Messiah with the resulting resurrection and righteous reign (Isa 26:8; 49:23; Zeph 3:8; Rom 8:23-25; 1 Cor 1:7; Gal 5:5; 1 Thess 1:10).
One might disagree with how these are classified, however, the clear conclusion is that waiting on the Lord is a patient expectation for him to fulfill the commands, statutes, precepts, and promises he has revealed through the prophets and apostles.  These words are certain being God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16) and therefore firmly established in his high and holy name (Heb 6:13). God's word alone illuminates the heart and mind of man (Psa 119:105; John 3:19-21).

The experience of man cannot serve as a measuring rod for life.  The heart—even that of the believer—is deceitful and sick (Jer 17:9) and prone to following every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14).  It is to keep unity in the faith (i.e., doctrine and practice) that the Lord gave gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers (Eph 4:11-13).  God wisely designed each person to feel and exhibit emotions as ways of rejoicing in are coping with the circumstances of life, but they make terrible guides.  Something more solid is needed.
Psalm 19:7-14
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

* My preference for quick searches.  I also have Logos, but that takes longer to boot up.

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