Who Shall Wait Upon The Lord

  The Bible is full of scriptures that teach us to, tell us to, and give us examples to wait upon the Lord.  They are scriptures that easily come to mind when ministering to a sister or brother in need.  Isaiah 40:31 is a well known go-to verse when ministering to someone else’s crisis.  However, when it is our own crisis the words really do not bring much comfort.  More often the verse is meant to help us regain a foothold on faith in order to see us through the trial.   The Apostle Peter encourages us to keep the faith by reminding us that we are not alone in our trials: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12)  When we take the subject of stillness before or waiting upon the Lord and search it throughout the Bible we find the characteristics of those who will wait upon the Lord.

The Repentant 

   The repentant shall wait upon the Lord.  Those who have been trying to do things in their own power and their own strength must come to the realization and understanding that they do not have the power to overcome life’s circumstances within themselves.  They cannot coerce the blessings of God in their own strength.  God said in Hosea that He would punish Jacob (meaning all the tribes of Israel) for trying to do things in his own strength.  (Hosea 12:2-5)  He also says in Hosea 12:6, “return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.”  The word return has the connotation of repentance, to return from trusting in yourself to take care of your troubles. 
   “‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the LORD, ‘Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!” (Isaiah 30:1-2)  The Lord is speaking of those who have turned back from waiting upon Him and are engaged in activities and preparations to fight their own battle.  They have let the fear of an unknown outcome pressuring them into finding their own solutions and are even going so far as to disobey scripture to do it.  They are returning to things they thought worked before they came to the Lord.  He says, in Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”   
   Do you need to repent today of taking matters into your own hands?  Do you need to let go of a situation no matter how much fear, worry, or concern it causes you?  Are you having trouble trusting the Lord in the situation?  Repent.  Repent for allowing yourself to forget that God is the God of the universe, Master and Creator of all things.  He is All-Knowing, All-Seeing, and All-Powerful.  He has written the whole book, He knows the beginning of your situation and He knows the end of it, as well.  He has a plan and a purpose to work it out in you and in everyone else involved.  Repent of trying to do things in your own strength and commit to trust the Lord to see you through. 
The Teachable
            Having trouble hearing the Lord in your situation?  Are you sure you want to hear His answer in the situation?  Maybe you are having trouble hearing because you are only listening for what you want to hear.  Maybe you are afraid God’s answer is going to cost you more than you are willing to sacrifice.  Maybe you are afraid that it will cost someone you love more than you want to see them got through or sacrifice.  Honestly, some trials are really hard, but remember what Peter reminded us above.  Our trial, though painful, is no worse than anyone else’s.  Others are going through, have been through, or will be going through tough trials, too.  What is most important in the face of a trial is to have ears to hear what the Lord is speaking.
   Samuel spoke to Saul telling him to send his servant on so Saul could stand still and hear the word of God for him.  Saul had to place himself in a position to hear the word of God.  His response had to be one of obedience as well as stillness. (1 Samuel 9:27).  If Saul had not stood still to hear the prophecy of Samuel that day, he would not have learned God’s plan for him.  God’s plan for Saul was to make him king of Israel.  God’s plan is always for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11) So why do we so often have a difficult time sitting still to listen to His Word? 
   Samuel also commanded Israel to stand still and be taught. (1 Samuel 12:7)  Samuel, as judge over Israel, stood to recount the Lord’s faithfulness to Israel according to the covenant agreement He had made with them.  Samuel recounted to Israel all that the Lord had done for them.  What a great thing to do in a moment of trial when you need a faith boost.  Be still from your activities and your attempts to fix your troubles and look back at the things God has already proven Himself to be faithful in.  Let what He has already done bolster your faith in what He is about to do.  Remind yourself that He is able. (Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 7:25)
   David, dependent upon the Lord, said that he would wait all day if need be to receive God’s direction. (Psalm 25:5)  What a wonderful example of teachableness.  David was not willing to step outside of God’s plan and protection and so he determined to be still until God’s plan was revealed.  How long will you wait to hear from the Lord?  Do you have a time frame in which you require Jesus to answer you?  I think we all do this from time to time.  Our crisis causes an urgency in us that tempts us to act and move and hope that God will go with us and bless what we are doing. 
   Moses lends us a great example to follow when the trial is not our own.  The time had come for Israel to celebrate the second Passover.  During preparations for this Passover, two men became unclean due to caring for a human corpse.  This meant they would not be able to obey the command to keep the Passover lest they be found guilty of keeping the Passover unlawfully.  Either way, they would be sinning against God.  They came to Moses to state their case before him.  They did not want to be excluded from keeping the Passover.  What Moses said next was brilliant! “Stand still that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.” (Numbers 9:8)  Moses did not debate with the men or listen to their arguments of why things should go their way.  He commanded silence and then set the example of stillness before the Lord in order to hear from the Lord. 
   When you need to hear from God, silence the voices around you.  When your friend needs to hear from God, silence your own voice – even when you are certain you have the answer.  Remember that it is not our job to hear the Lord for someone else.  Sometimes we need to allow people time to learn how to hear from God for themselves.  We also need to allow time to hear from God for ourselves.  Continually talking about the crisis will not change the crisis.  A teachable heart will be steadfastly stilled before the Lord to hear His Word. 
The Faith-Filled
   David shows us another characteristic of waiting upon the Lord.  That of having faith in Who and How God is.  He says, “My soul waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.  Trust Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:5-8)   While faith is the evidence of things not seen, it is strengthened by knowing Him in whom you trust. (Hebrews 11:1)  David’s faith was in God alone.  He knew that no amount of planning, fighting, or spinning his wheels to feel like he was doing something would change God’s intended outcome.  His salvation would still come only when God had pre-determined. 
   “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)  Stillness comes from knowing that our God is the Supreme God.  He is higher than any other.  “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” (Job 37:14)  This statement holds the idea of standing at attention and deeply contemplating the wondrous works of God.  The faith-filled person will not ponder the crisis, but instead, take a deep and heartfelt look at the wonders of God and then measure their crisis up to Who and How He is.  Then they will rest knowing that He is supremely in control. 
   The faith-filled also know that “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)  What you may not know is that what is renewed includes physical strength, spiritual progress, and spiritual power.  Can we assume that not waiting on the Lord will have the opposite effects?  Maybe and maybe not, but what we can gather is that we will not renew or gain in any of these areas if we do not learn to wait upon the Lord.  While we may not lose ground, we will not regain ground already lost nor will we achieve furtherance in any of these areas.  Trust the Word and wait upon the Lord, for your strength will be renewed!  The faith-filled understand that the promises of God are trustworthy and true.  They will wait upon the Lord, for they know waiting comes with reward.
The Courageous
   Psalm 27 is a psalm of David’s.  It is a psalm that bolsters courage in the Lord.  The last two verses sum it up, but I recommend reading it in full in the near future.  “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14)  Courage is found in a foundation of faith.  Once you have walked through a crisis with faith, you build a foundation on which you can stand with courage in the next crisis or trial.  The more you learn to stand still in the face of trials the more the Lord will prove Himself strong on your behalf and the more courageous you will become for the kingdom.  (2 Chronicles 16:9)  I have heard it said that courage is doing things afraid.  Standing still is also doing something – it is obedience. 
   When King Jehoshaphat found that a great army was coming against his lands he was afraid and he set himself to seek the Lord.  The king did not call the battalions together and prepare for war and then pray God to go with them.  He ran straight to the Lord to hear from Him first.  What a great example he becomes for us.  His throne, his people, and his lands were at stake.  Imagine the pressure he must have felt in this crisis, but he ran to the Lord to hear from Him.  Jehoshaphat showed all of the characteristics above and this is the word the Lord gave to him:  “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”(2 Chronicles 20:17)
   How does it feel to you when the Lord says do all you can do and go to the very edge of taking care of this thing for yourself, but then stand there and do nothing but look to see what I will do.  Put yourself in Jehoshaphat’s shoes!  He amassed his army and singers to go to war and led them out – not to fight.  He was obeying the Lord, but he could not see the end result.  He stood still to hear from the Lord then he took the steps the Lord told him to take and then he stood still again trusting the Lord to bring the salvation He had promised.  What do you think Jehoshaphat and his army saw?  All the enemies who had come against him had destroyed one another.  They came upon a battlefield of slain soldiers and an abundance of spoil that they did not have to raise one weapon to gain! (2 Chronicles 20:18-25)  The courageous follow the direction of the Lord and receive a greater reward than they could have imagined.  It takes great courage to stand still in the face of an angry enemy.  Faith in the Lord is expressed through courageous obedience. 
The Righteous
   The righteous are those who are morally just.  They do what is right in the sight of the Lord.  “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.  For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.” (Psalm 37:7-9)  Scripture tells us that it is right in God’s sight to wait upon Him.  The Lord encourages us that even when people do bad things on purpose that we should not fret, but wait upon Him.  He tells us that fretting will only do harm.  We wait upon the Lord because it is right in His sight. 
   Isaiah encourages us to hold on to God’s Word and wait in the midst of rebellious times.  When things are so crazy and so out of control that we cannot see God anywhere in the circumstance, we are to get into His Word and wait.  Zephaniah continues this thought by telling us that the remnant waits.  (Zephaniah 3:8)  The remnant is made up of those who remain faithful to the Lord when the larger parts of society and government have turned against God.  What is it that the remnant waits for?  They wait for God to rise up and bring victory. 
   Psalm 4:4-5 teaches us to be angry, but not sin in our anger.  The practical application to this command is to “meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.  Offer the sacrifice of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord.”  The righteous put their trust in the Lord even when angry.  How do they do this?  They do it by being still before the Lord.  They ponder what they are angry about in light of God’s Word and then they sacrifice the offense and their retaliation through trust in the Lord.  Ecclesiastes 5:2 finishes this thought out, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.”  While this article is focusing more on major trials, we do not want to ignore the practical day-to-day aspects of being still before the Lord.  Sometimes if we learn to be still in smaller things, we might not cause some of the bigger ones. 
   Waiting upon the Lord takes a certain combination of characteristics.  First of all, is a repentant attitude.  We must repent for when we have taken things up in our own strength and return (repent) to resting and waiting upon the Lord.  We need to be people who are teachable.  If we are not willing to hear from the Lord, we will not know His will for our situation.  When we wait upon the Lord for direction we are assured of His divine and powerful help.  We must be a people of faith, courage, and righteousness to please our Father in heaven.  Only with this set of characteristics can we count on the promises that follow those who will wait upon the Lord:  direction (Ps. 25:5); defense (Ps. 59); salvation (Isa. 30:15; Ps. 62:1, 2; Ex. 14:13; 2 Chr. 20:17); strength (Isa. 30:15; 40:31; Ps. 27:14; reward (Ps. 37:9); victory ((Zep. 3:8). 
   Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  Wait upon the Lord and become an overcoming with Him!
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