Read His Words Before Ours!
As I tossed and turned in an unfamiliar bed, it seemed like morning would never come.
I was tired, but sleep eluded me. Away from home for the first time, in a dorm filled with unfamiliar people, in darkness far deeper than I was accustomed to at home, it was impossible to settle.
After lying there, trying to sleep for what felt like hours, I finally grabbed my torch (that’s a flashlight for my American friends) I drew it under the covers so as not to disturb the others, and checked the time only to find, to my dismay, just twenty minutes had passed.
There were still hours to wait until morning . . .
The Israelites faced an even longer night.
Throughout the Old Testament, God promised a Messiah, a Saviour who would come to redeem and restore, who would deal with the problem of sin and provide a way back to closeness with God.
Zephaniah spoke of an end to oppression and shame, a gathering of God’s people who had been scattered, and the restoration of good fortune.
Malachi described a day when wickedness would be dealt with, and assured the people of God’s promise that, “for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” (Malachi 4:2)
The promises were amazing . . . but then silence.
And waiting . . .
And still more waiting . . .
. . . Over four hundred years after Malachi’s words at the end of the Old Testament, the Israelites were still waiting for God’s promises to come true. Even worse, there were no more messages from the prophets. It seemed God had gone s i l e n t.
Perhaps this led to questions:
Would God’s promise of a Redeemer ever come true?
Had He forgotten?
Could He really be trusted?
And what about you? What are you waiting for just now?
The fulfilment of a long-held dream?
An answer to prayer?
Resolution in a situation of uncertainty?
Maybe, like the Israelites, you know God’s promises, but you’re struggling to see any evidence of their truth in your current situation. Maybe it feels like God has gone silent. It can be easy to lose hope, to wonder if God really will come through for us. Those times of waiting can be unsettling, uncomfortable, and often dark.
But what if God is at work in the waiting?
What if He is waiting, too . . .
For just the right moment?
Hundreds of years after Zephaniah and Malachi’s words, Jesus came, and the promise was fulfilled. It’s striking to note Paul, writing after the coming of Jesus, looks back on the fulfilment of the promise and describes both Jesus’ birth and His death as coming at just the right time.
“When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4)
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
Suddenly, we realize the years of waiting were not caused by a delay, but were part of God’s design.
During those four hundred years, God may have been silent, but He was not inactive.
Various world powers rose and fell as predicted in prophecies in the book of Daniel. The Old Testament was translated into Greek, which was important for God’s Word being spread among the Gentiles. And Israel was conquered by the Romans, leaving the Jewish people desperate for freedom from oppression, recognising their only hope was in the coming of the Messiah.
The scene was set for Jesus to come.
Not only was God at work in the big picture of world events, but He was also preparing individuals for their part in His plan.
When the moment came, Mary was ready. She was ready to respond with faith and obedience despite the seeming impossibility of the angel’s message.
We can’t always understand why we have to wait; God’s ways and His timing are often not the same as ours. But we can trust in His goodness and His faithfulness. His promises will be fulfilled, sometimes (often!) in unexpected ways.
We can also trust He has a purpose in the waiting. Sometimes, while we are concerned with our circumstances, God is more interested in growing our character and our dependence on Him.
Often, the times of waiting reveal our lack of control and our inability to fix things for ourselves. They can drive us to God as they remind us our true hope is found in Him.
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming, may it remind us, even when the situations troubling us are resolved, we are still waiting.
We are waiting for the day when He will come again, when sorrow and suffering will finally be gone forever, when our waiting will come to an end, when we see “the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16) and we know the longest night is finally over and the darkness is no more.
Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!