75. THE DANGER OF IMPATIENCE- HE’S TAKING TOO LONG
(The Single Woman Series – Batch 2)
In today’s world, things are becoming increasingly fast-paced with advances being made continuously in the world of technology. We have cultivated a people that do not know what it is to slow down, to take their time or to wait patiently on the realization of their dreams, goals, aspirations or wants.
Conversely, the mantra on the lips and in the minds of the masses is that whatever you want, whatever you’re after, you better go get it and quick.
The thinking is that if you don’t hurry, if you don’t press that rush button and move swiftly, if you make the mistake of going too slow or worse yet, decide to wait (shudder!), you will be left behind. You will become irrelevant and redundant.
No doubt, today, we operate in a fast-paced world and as people press on, the thinking is that if you can’t keep up, you get bowled over or feel terribly like a failure.
In the world’s mad rush to get ahead socially, academically, professionally, politically, emotionally, sexually, personally, financially and in other spheres, the words ‘patience’ and ‘waiting’ have long been thrown out the door contemptuously by many, others regarding them despicably as curse words, totally inapplicable to this “dog-eat-dog” or “rat race” era.
But are they really? Have we no need for patience and waiting anymore? Are these concepts now so archaic that they are of no use in these contemporary times?
What does the Bible, whose precepts are eternally applicable to mankind, have to say? What does God, our all-wise Creator and the one who gave us the Bible to guide us into the path of truth, eternal success and right living, think of waiting and patience?
It is important that we know what God thinks. For, he is all-knowing, all-wise and always right.
When we adopt his way of thinking (not necessarily the world’s), we are bound be be on the right track as he does not lead astray. So infallible, wise and enlightening is his counsel, that Psalm 19:7-14 declares:
- “The law of the Lord is PERFECT, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is SURE, making wise the simple. The statutes 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 for ever: the judgments of the Lord are TRUE and RIGHTEOUS altogether.”
WHAT THEN DOES GOD HAVE TO SAY ON THE ISSUE?
Well, this may surprise you but whereas the world tries to convince us that we should rush madly ahead, quick and not wait for anything, the Word of God (the Bible) states the opposite. Whatever it is that we may desire, even if it is a good desire, God’s Word tells us:
- “WAIT on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: WAIT, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
- “REST in the Lord, and WAIT patiently for him…those that WAIT upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psalm 37:7,9)
- “In your PATIENCE possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
- “Be PATIENT therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman WAITETH for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long PATIENCE for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also PATIENT; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7-8)
- “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with PATIENCE the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1)
- “For ye have need of PATIENCE, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)
- “…even we ourselves groan within ourselves, WAITING for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with PATIENCE WAIT for it.” (Romans 8:23-25)
- “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh PATIENCE. But let PATIENCE have her perfect work, that ye may perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4)
Now, I know personally, that waiting on the Lord and exercising patience for something you desire or want really badly is at times difficult. For example, I have desired to be married and to experience all that married life has to offer and to have a family of my own for many years, yet I have remained single. While it has not been easy though, I have realized that with God’s help and through his enabling, it is possible.
I have also learned that the alternative to not waiting on God’s timing (however long it may be) leads to the wrong path and is destructive.
This is clearly demonstrated in the lives of people that I have observed, who rushed ahead without God or without waiting on God, his timing, his will and his purpose. Such people may smile for a while or smile for show but deep down, especially if they are Christians, they end up at a place of regret, for foolishly rushing forward and not waiting on the Lord to work out his purposes in their lives.
Whenever God’s people find that he is taking too long to intervene in their life circumstance or to grant them something that they desire, there is usually the temptation to go ahead of God and to try to make that thing happen for themselves, in their own strength.
This took place as far back as the scriptures and as the accounts given there indicate, being impatient because what one wants or is hoping for or expects to have is taking too long is not just foolish but downright detrimental and dangerous.
Let us look at three (3) examples from the Bible.
SAUL’S IMPATIENCE LED HIM TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS TO HIS OWN DETRIMENT
In the Bible, it records, that after Samuel the Prophet had anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king, he gave him some instructions to follow, the last of which required Saul to wait seven days until Samuel arrived, after which, Samuel indicated to him that he would come and offer burnt offerings, sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings unto the Lord and then tell Saul what next he should do.
1 Samuel 10:1-8 states:
- “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
- Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
- After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
- And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
- And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: SEVEN DAYS SHALT THOU TARRY, TILL I COME TO THEE, AND SHEW THEE WHAT THOU SHALT DO.”
Saul obeyed the instructions for the most part and everything that Samuel had prophesied would happen, happened. However, when Saul was in Gilgal, after waiting for Samuel to come and seeing that the seven days that he had told him to wait had expired, he seemingly grew impatient, apparently taking the view that Samuel was taking too long. After all, Samuel had told him to wait for him for seven days and this was over and he had not yet come, which Saul had not at all expected.
Instead of continuing to wait on Samuel though as he ought to have done despite the delay, Saul decided that he had waited long enough. He then made the bad decision (although it seemed right in his own eyes at the time), to take matters into his own hands and to offer the burnt offerings and sacrifice the peace offerings himself, unto the Lord.
Samuel therefore took longer than Saul had expected him to take, which made him impatient and this bred disobedience. Samuel did eventually arrive despite the unexpected delay but by then, Saul had already messed things up due to his impatience. He paid dearly for his disobedience though, as it eventually cost him the Kingship over Israel.
1 Samuel 13:1-15 states:
- “As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
- And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
- And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
- But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin.”
When Saul saw that Samuel did not arrive at the end of seven days as he had expected him to, instead of continuing to wait patiently in FAITH, despite how the circumstances around him appeared, trusting that he would come as he had said he would, although delayed, Saul, in desperation and being self-willed, applied human logic and reasoning (which is at many times faulty). He decided that, based on how things appeared and what he saw and how the circumstances looked, that taking matters into his own hands was the best course of action. In his words:
- “…I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I FORCED myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”
This reminds me of women who have professed to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who claimed to have been waiting on the Lord to provide them with a spouse and after some time, maybe months or even years, looked at their situation, how things appeared, saw the circumstances around them and their biological clock and decided, like Saul, to not wait on God to do what he alone could do but to take matters into their own hands.
Instead of remembering 2 Corinthians 5:7 which says that as Christians, we walk by FAITH and not by sight, some of these women went out deliberately and found themselves a man and got married to him, outside of God’s will and counsel. Others deliberately went out and had sex with a man outside of marriage, so that they could finally experience what that was like or in the hope that they would get pregnant, them valuing being a mother to a child as more important than obeying and serving God. Like Saul, they tried to justify their sin by saying, I waited but God was taking too long and my biological clock was ticking, so I was forced to do what I did.
Like Saul, these women grew impatient and decided to not wait on God anymore but to do as they saw fit in their own eyes and today, those that are still in the land of the living, like Saul, reaped nothing but pain, heartbreak, sadness and regret. They sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). They had a dream and God taking too long to bring it to pass, they set out to take what they wanted by force but what they ended up with was not at all like they had dreamed or imagined or hoped for. What they ended up with looked more like a nightmare.
SARAH’S IMPATIENCE LED HER TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HER OWN HANDS TO HER OWN DETRIMENT
Sarah’s impatience also led to serious problems.
In Genesis 12, God instructed Abram (who later was renamed Abraham), to leave his father’s house and his country and his kindred and to travel to a land that he would show him. He told him then, that he would make of him a great nation and would bless him.
In faith and obedience, at the age of seventy-five (75), Abram left what he knew as home, along with his wife Sarai (who later was renamed Sarah) and Lot his nephew and departed for a place that only God knew and a future that was in His hands alone. Lot eventually parted ways with him as the promise was given to Abram alone, not to him and Lot.
Genesis 12:1-5 states:
- “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
- So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
What seemed like years later, Abram and Sarai remained childless, although the Lord had said that he would make Abram a father of many nations and Abram and Sarai had probably thought that the Lord would have given them a child by that time. In Genesis 15, Abram probably growing a little weary with the wait and knowing that he and his wife were not exactly young and were getting even older and not understanding everything that God was doing because God is God and his ways are unsearchable (Romans 11:33-34), chose to bring up the issue to God.
Genesis 15:1-6 states:
- “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
- And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
- And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
God therefore confirmed to Abram that he would have an heir, not adopted but from his own body and in that moment, Abram believed God, despite how the circumstances looked.
However, as time progressed and after waiting some more for the promise to be realized, Sarai Abram’s wife remained barren. She therefore reasoned, according to human logic, given how much time had passed and how all of their efforts to conceive had proven futile, that it must be that God intended to give Abram a child through another woman.
Apparently, Abram believed her, as God had promised that he would have a child from his body. No mention had been made of Sarai. So, having waited and waited, when Sarai, tired of being childless, came up with an idea that was sown in desperation and faithlessness, Abram went along with it. They decided to help themselves by having Abram marry Hagar, Sarai’s maid, so that she could become pregnant for Abram and Sarai could adopt the child as her own.
Instead of believing that God could do what seemed to be impossible, that he operated without limits and that he would allow Sarai, his wife, old as she was, barren as she was, to conceive in his own timing and according to his might, the Bible states that Abram listened to Sarai his wife, got married to Hagar who then became his second wife and had sexual relations with her.
Genesis 16:1-4 states:
- “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived…”
Sarai therefore got her wish in that Hagar got pregnant but because she and Abram had not waited on God to work HIS purposes out in their lives but had become impatient and decided to take matters into their own hands, this faithless action resulted in problems for Sarai.
The Bible states that when Hagar, Sarai’s maid realized that she had conceived, she began to despise Sarai. I take this to mean that Hagar became puffed up and proud. For, she and not Sarai was going to give birth to Abram’s son! Poor Sarai was still barren and could not even give the man a child!
Sensing the animosity from Hagar and perhaps being disrespected by her, Sarai realized that she had sown the wind and had reaped the whirlwind. She thought that, due to her and Abram waiting so long for a child and God not yet giving them one, that maybe he wanted them to help themselves. She therefore had given her maid Hagar to her husband Abram for the sake of procreation.
Yet with a baby on the way and Hagar’s stomach growing larger every day, so was her attitude. She was no longer humble and respectful but was now behaving as if she had arrived.
Sarai therefore regretted her decision, even before Hagar had given birth. She realized early on, that this idea of hers (not God’s), which was sown in impatience, desperation and faithlessness (because she thought that God was taking too long and too much time had passed and she was too old to still have a child), would yield nothing but trouble later on. And she was right.
The Bible states in verses 4-5:
- “And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.”
The problem borne from Sarai’s impatience was not as easy to get rid of, as it was to create. For, after Hagar had given birth and years later when Sarai had given birth to her own son as God had always intended to enable her to do, she found Hagar’s son Ishmael, mocking.
The Bible states in Genesis 21:1-9:
- “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
- And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”
Indeed, although Sarah demanded that Hagar and her son be put out and eventually, upon God confirming that this was what should be done and providing some assurance to Abraham about Ishmael’s future, Abraham did put them out so that Ishmael (the child of faithlessness and impatience) would not interfere with Isaac (the child that God had promised and given by faith, after a long period of waiting), problems still ensued for the descendants of Isaac (Israelites), as Ishmael’s descendants (Arabians) continued to mock, provoke and persecute Isaac’s descendants.
This mocking, persecution, conflict and contention (all of which was borne from the fact that Sarai grew impatient and found that God was taking too long), continued into New Testament times as Paul attested in his writings and even till today.
If you turn on the television and follow what is happening in Israel or look at the papers or go online and do your research, you will find that there has always been and continues to be Israel-Arabian conflict, between two sets of people who descended from Abraham’s lineage, one from Sarah’s son Isaac (the product of God’s promise -Israel) and the other from Hagar’s son (the product of Sarai’s own foiled plan – Ishmael).
In Galatians 4:22-31, Paul, an Israelite, in referring to how it all started and using the term Agar to refer to Hagar Sarai’s maid, wrote:
- “Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born AFTER THE FLESH; but he of the freewoman was BY PROMISE. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
- Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was BORN AFTER THE FLESH persecuted him that was BORN AFTER THE SPIRIT, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
What happened with Ishmael and Isaac and the tensions produced which have never died but have instead escalated, even up to today and hundred of years after Sarai departed the scene, stand as a sure testament. It is a testament of what transpires when we, like Sarai, feeling impatient and taking the view that God is taking too long to grant us what we think we need, want or desire to have, take matters into our own hands and do what seems to be right in our own eyes. What is left in the wake is a colossal mess, that was easy to create but not so easy to clean up.
ISRAEL’S IMPATIENCE LED THE PEOPLE TO TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS TO THEIR OWN DETRIMENT
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were also guilty of the sin of impatience, while en route to the land that God had promised to take them into.
They apparently thought that when God delivered them from Egypt’s bondage and destroyed the Egyptians who tried to pursue after them in the Red Sea, that God was going to take them straight to the Promised Land. However, in his wisdom, God did not. He took them through the wilderness first and due to impatience and the challenges they faced along the way (all of which God was well able to handle), they doubted God could take them to where he had promised, rebelled against him and Moses who he had appointed to lead them and at times even voiced the idea of overthrowing Moses and going back to Egypt.
As if this was not enough, at one point when Moses had been called up to Mount Sinai by God and was communing with him, the people grew impatient because they found that Moses was taking too long to come down and so, probably thinking that he was dead, not ever coming back or taken by God, they decided to become their own leaders and to overcome their boredom by doing as they pleased, including dancing and worshiping an idol.
However, Moses was not dead. He was spending quite some time in the presence of the Lord, without any need for food or drink, the Lord who created food and drink, being his source of sustenance.
In Exodus 19:20, it states: “And the Lord came down unto mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: And the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; And Moses went up.”
God had every intention of causing Moses to return to the people and Moses had not forgotten or abandoned them. He was spending time in the presence of the Lord, receiving detailed instructions for the benefit of the Israelites, as to how they were to live and conduct themselves in a manner that would please God.
However, due to Moses’ delay in returning, the people decided to become reckless and to do as they pleased. They decided that they wanted to serve idols and even approached Aaron demanding same.
The Bible states in Exodus 32:1-8:
- “And when the people saw that Moses DELAYED TO COME DOWN out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
- And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me .And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
- And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
- And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
When Moses returned, he found the people serving the golden calf which was an idol that had been made, dancing, naked and committing sin. As a result, he ordered that there be bloodshed and God also plagued the people, resulting in many deaths.
Genesis 32:15-28 states:
- “And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables…And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
- And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
- And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men…“
After this, the Bible states that Moses went to God to appeal on behalf of the Israelites, to ask God to forgive them for the great sin that they had committed. However, in verse 35, it reads that “…the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.”
Israel was consistently impatient, displayed a bad attitude and rebelled when in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land because they apparently found they were taking too long to reach and having too much difficulty on the way. Ironically, their own rebellion, complaining and disobedience prolonged the journey. Of their behaviour, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 states:
- “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
- But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
What the children of Israel did and the wantonness they indulged in because they found that Moses was taking too long to return, reminds me of Luke 12, where it speaks of the person who has professed Christianity but finds that Jesus his Lord is taking too long to return and so, instead of remaining watchful, due to impatience, like the Israelites, he begins to indulge in the sinful pleasures of the world. His outcome is both dismal and detrimental to self.
Luke 12:35-47 states:
- “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that WAIT for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
- Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not…
- And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
- But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord DELAYETH HIS COMING; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”
In conclusion, there is danger in impatience and in thinking that something is taking too long to happen or that God is taking too long to grant us our request or that Jesus is taking too long to return, as he has promised he would.
In the case of SAUL who was anointed king, Samuel told him to wait seven days for him, after which Samuel would come and offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings to the Lord and then tell him what to do. Yet, seven days passed and Samuel had not come. Saul therefore came to the conclusion that Samuel was taking too long or that he was maybe not coming again, he got tired of waiting and took matters into his own hands, forgot the instruction and offered the burnt offerings and sacrificed the peace offerings himself.
As a result, Saul lost God’s favour, his presence and eventually, as he persisted down the destructive path of self-will, disobedience and rebellion, his life and kingdom.
In the case of SARAI the wife of Abraham, God had promised Abram that he would make him a father of many nations and bless him. Yet, Sarai considered that she had been barren throughout her marriage and was getting down in age and that after some years post the promise, God had still not caused her to get pregnant. She therefore came to the conclusion that God was taking too long or that he would never come through for her, she got tired of waiting and took matters into her own hands, forgot or limited the promise and tried to solve the problem herself by having her husband marry and then impregnate her maid Hagar.
As a result, Sarai had trouble with Hagar, Hagar’s son Ishmael and long after she died, the Israelites, which are the descendants from Sarai’s son Isaac, continue to be in conflict with Ishmael’s descendants, the Arabians.
In the case of the ISRAELITES, God’s chosen people, in the Old Testament days, God had promised them that he would take them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet, after they left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and were delivered by God from the Egyptians, they were not taken immediately into the Promised Land and encountered some difficulties on the way which they had not expected. They therefore came to the conclusion that God was not going to take them to the land he had promised them and when Moses went up to mount Sinai to commune with God, they concluded that he was taking too long or that he was maybe not coming again, so they got tired of waiting and took matters into their own hands, forgot the promise and God’s faithfulness and began to serve idols.
As a result, many of them died by either the sword or the plague.
The lesson is this: No matter how long you have been waiting on a promise from the Lord to be realized or a desire or a wish, continue to do so with patience and a good attitude. Even when it seems like with Lazarus, that he is delayed in coming, know that the Lord may take his time but he DOES come. Whatever he has promised he will deliver and whatever he intends and purposes for you to have, you will have, in his own divine timing.
This is very important to remember. For, as we have seen from the biblical examples above, impatience breeds sin in the form of restlessness, desperation, disobedience, recklessness and rebellion, all of which result in major problems in the aftermath, that are to our detriment and even that of others.
It should not surprise us when, having taken matters into our own hands because we find that God is taking too long and we have grown tired of waiting, that we end up with one big ugly mess. The Word of God remains true and it has told us already, that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Contrary to the world’s mad dash, good things happen when we wait and with patience, especially when we are waiting on the Lord. He never disappoints.
For example, after Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, he instructed them not to leave Jerusalem but to WAIT for the promise of God the Father. In faith, after he left them and went back to heaven, they did just that and received the promise of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 1:4-5 reads of Jesus:
- “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should NOT depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence… ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
Later, while WAITING in obedience to the command at Jerusalem, Acts 2 records:
- “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Peter therefore later declared in verses 32-33, to those who were looking on at all that had transpired:
- “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
In the Old Testament, Jacob also knew what it was to wait for something good and worthwhile. He WAITED seven long (7) years for the love of his life Rachel and thought nothing of it because of the extent to which he valued the prize. Genesis 29:20 states, “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
He then further agreed to work seven (7) more years for her hand in marriage when his father-in-law duped him into marriage with Rachel’s older sister Leah and having WAITED long and exercising great PATIENCE, he was eventually rewarded with Rachel as his bride.
This reminds me of Hebrews 6:11-15, which state:
- “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and PATIENCE inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had PATIENTLY endured, he obtained the promise.“
(Written on 10th and 12th April, 2021)
When God says to move, we must move and when he tells us to wait, we must wait.
Sometimes, as women though, when we look at where we are at and consider where we would like to be, sometimes it can seem as if God is taking too long or that he does not intend to take us anywhere meaningful in life. We desire so much but all we are ever greeted with on a day to day basis, is stuck.
The single woman that is desirous of marriage for example, may look on longingly, hoping that this would be the day at long last, that God would give the command for her to move forward. She wants to leave her season of singleness and move into a courtship (dating), an engagement and marriage.
Many a married woman also looks on, hoping that today would be the day that the pregnancy test would come back positive, so that she and her husband could finally have that child they’ve been dreaming off, for all of their marriage thus far.
Admittedly, for many of us, when we are at a standstill but want to make some sort of progress in some sphere of our lives (be it personally, professionally, financially, academically or otherwise), we can be tempted to ask of God, when we see the days, weeks, months and even years rolling on and we are in THE SAME POSITION (even as others seem to be making significant strides and headway):
“What is the hold up? Does he intend to take us anywhere? Why is he taking so long? Has he forgotten us?”
Yet, the account given in Numbers 9 of the Israelites, illustrates a beautiful point, when it comes to waiting on God or even moving forward.
In Numbers 9, God had already taken his people the Israelites out of Egypt and they were now in the wilderness, in the second year after they had come out of Egypt. Where they were was meant to be a temporary abode, as God had promised to one day take them into a land that was described as flowing with milk and honey. While in the wilderness therefore, they relied on God’s leading for when to move forward and when to stay put and in what direction they should go. After all, only he knew where the Promised Land was and the route that he wanted them to take to get there. Only he had the Master Plan for their lives and the competence to get them where he wanted.
God’s presence being with them, he covered the tabernacle with a cloud in the day and by fire in the night. The Israelites were to only move forward when that cloud or fire moved, as they understood that when it moved, it was signalling that God wanted them to move forward. When the cloud or fire remained however, no matter how short or how long, even if they did not know why, they understood that they were to wait and to rest in their tents.
The Bible reads:
- “And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
- And WHEN THE CLOUD WAS TAKEN UP from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel JOURNEYED: and IN THE PLACE WHERE THE CLOUD ABODE, there the children of Israel PITCHED their tents. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel JOURNEYED, and at the commandment of the Lord they PITCHED: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
- AND WHEN THE CLOUD TARRIED LONG upon the tabernacle MANY DAYS, then the children of Israel KEPT THE CHARGE OF THE LORD, AND JOURNEYED NOT.
- AND SO IT WAS, WHEN THE CLOUD WAS A FEW DAYS upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord THEY ABODE IN THEIR TENTS, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed:
- WHETHER IT WAS BY DAY OR BY NIGHT THAT THE CLOUD WAS TAKEN UP, THEY JOURNEYED. OR WHETHER IT WERE TWO DAYS, OR A MONTH, OR A YEAR, THAT THE CLOUD TARRIED UPON THE TABERNACLE, REMAINING THERON, THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ABODE IN THEIR TENTS, AND JOURNEYED NOT: BUT WHEN IT WAS TAKEN UP, THEY JOURNEYED.
- At the commandment of the Lord THEY RESTED in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord THEY JOURNEYED: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”
The lesson in this scripture is clear. When it comes to our lives, in his wisdom, God guides those who are his and we are to trust him no matter what. When he gives the command for us to move forward, we must move forward and when he wants us to stand still, we must rest in the safety of our ‘tents’, content to know that he has a plan, that he knows what he is doing and that we should never therefore, take things into our own hands and venture out on our own, ahead of him.
What about when we are completely caught off-guard because God wants us to move forward much sooner than we had expected or at what seems to be at an unlikely or inopportune time?
Well, conversely, if God gives the command at an unexpected time, like at night or much sooner than we had anticipated and that command is for us to immediately move forward, then we must get up at that point and do so.
In Matthew 1:20, for example, it says of Joseph, the man who was engaged to be married to Mary but had decided that he could not marry her because she was pregnant, that the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. That angel told him, while he was sleeping, not to be afraid to move forward in marriage to Mary and that the child in her womb, Jesus, had been conceived of the Holy Ghost and would save his people from their sins.
In response, Joseph was not tardy. He got up, obeyed the Lord and moved forward. Verse 24 reads that in obedience, “…Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”
Also, when Peter had been imprisoned by Herod and the plan was to have him killed, he was visited suddenly in his prison at night, when he did not expect it, by God’s angel, who told him to get up immediately and follow him.
Peter had been asleep at the time and therefore had to be awoken by the angel. Yet, it was his instant obedience in doing as he was commanded, without necessarily understanding everything that was happening, that secured Peter his freedom. In the middle of the night and from his prison, guards or not, God wanted him to move forward and to follow his angel right at that moment, without overthinking, without over-analyzing it, without questioning it and so he did.
The Word of God states in Acts 12:6-11:
- “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
- And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
- And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
When it comes to our lives, God wants us to do the same. Just like a traffic light therefore, although we don’t see the inner workings, we can completely trust the system. When the light turns green, even if we don’t feel like it, we must go forward and when it turns red, no matter how rushed we feel and impatient, we must stay put.
Even so, earthly systems fail and sometimes the traffic lights don’t work but God’s system, his plan, his methods, NEVER fail. We can therefore put our trust in him to lead us, no matter where we are or how things look or how we feel or how long or short he is taking, to give us that green light to move forward.
Unlike the traffic light system which simply tells us when to move forward, when to get ready to go and when to stay put but does not accompany us on our journey, God never asks his children to wait without him or to move forward without his guidance. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
In Exodus 33:14, he told Moses, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
In similar fashion, in Psalm 32:8, he told David, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.“
(Written on 25th September, 2021)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 25 – ‘When Loneliness And Impatience Set In‘
- Note 42 – ‘When That Door Wouldn’t Budge’
- Note 70 – ‘Has He Forgotten Me?’
- Note 73 – ‘Wait For Your Ice Cream’
- Note 142 – ‘Single Woes – The Battles We Singles Fight Everyday‘
- Note 148 – ‘What Does The Bible Say About Being Unequally Yoked With An Unbeliever?’
- Note 268 – ‘Making The Wrong Decision Can Be Costly – When You Don’t Wait On The Lord To Introduce You To Your Spouse‘
- Note 287 – ‘The Wait – The Period Between The Promise And The Manifestation Of The Promise‘
Under ‘Courting or Engaged Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 34 – ‘Seven (7) Practical Things You Can Do While Waiting On Your Prince Charming‘
- Note 37 – ‘What Does It Mean To Wait With A Good Attitude?’