Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Light of Christmas Pt. 6 {Gentleman God}

continued from part 5

Waiting requires patience.  Patience is not a word I emulate very well (despite the name of this blog).  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patient as: “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation; not hasty”; and patience as “the capacity or habit of being patient”.
Waiting is defined as the act of “looking forward expectantly; to be ready and available”.
Have you ever had your patience tested in the waiting for something?   You know, you’re looking forward expectantly, and you are bearing the pain calmly as you wait for a call from the job interview you had last week, from the doctor who ran tests.  Whatever it may be, you’re waiting.  Expectantly.
Starting out we wait in expectation, prepared.  As we wait a little longer than expected we maybe begin to get restless.  As more time passes, we start to build anxiety, fear (not so forbearing) as our mind builds possible scenarios of the outcome; we begin to focus on other things (not so ready and available); and our patience soon turns to impatience as we take control of the situation, attempting to change our waiting circumstances.
Waiting patiently requires relinquishing control.
But God says, “Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”  Is. 30:18(b)
The Old Testament is filled with promises of a coming Messiah, a Savior, one who would crush the head of the cunning serpent.  God said, “Wait for it”. But we are an impatient lot we humans, fallen and labouring in vain.
The Old Testament is filled with stories of men who didn’t bear pains and trials so calmly, who complained often, who were very hasty in doing things their own way, trying to be in control, not so patiently waiting for God to do it His way in His time.
For God promised, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel".  The Israelites understood the meaning of this sentence.  Names, they were important in the Hebrew culture, they spoke meaning or personality or a trait of the name-holder.  “Immanuel” means “God-With-Us”.   Israel knew God was coming, in the form of a human child.
For God promised, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”  (Is. 9:6-7)  Israel knew this child would be a king.
The promised redemption seemed to take a long time; longer than expected.  Yet the Lord isn’t on our timetable, to Him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.  He said wait. 
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak and not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  Hab. 2:3
Some waited patiently, trusting, believing in His promise.  Some didn’t, instead making their own way, their own terms, their own holiness, their own religion, for they could wait no longer.
We like to be in control.  Do it our way.
And that is just what the Israelites did.  For over a thousand years they did just what they wanted.  It was a gradual thing, just like it is with us as we wait.  They first waited in expectation.  Then they grew a little restless, and in this noticed their neighbors worshipping gods they didn’t have to wait for, whom they controlled.  And so their patience turned to impatience and plain disregard as they wandered toward gods they could see, touch, and manipulate; gods that made them feel good, and didn’t make them wait.
In an interview following 9-11, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter to Billy Graham, spoke these words in answer to the question, “Where is God in all of this disaster?”  She said, “...in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said we want you out....And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out....”.  This was spoken in 2001 describing America and their desire to have God out of everything (schools, government, markets, etc.).  Yet it is exactly the same sentiment which occurred in Israel 2,400 years ago.
Israel was making their own way, doing their own thing.  Isaiah describes it, and the consequences, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Is. 29:13-14
Israel wanted God out.  And so He left.  The result was 400 years of silence.
For four hundred years there was no word from the Lord. 
For four hundred years there was only silence.  No word from the mouth of a prophet, no visions, no appearing of angels. 
For four hundred years there was nothing but silence and darkness in the land of promise.
to be continued.....

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