400 Year Wait

Now that it is Post-Thanksgiving, December times - it’s officially CHRISTMAS TIME! With Christmas in the air, we are starting a 3-week series geared around the birth of Jesus. But instead of just reading the traditional story and saying, “oh that’s nice!” - we are going to try and dig deeper in our faith and be challenged by lessons learned from this long awaited birth. 

In regards to waiting, my personal confession is that I get quite irritable when I get stuck behind a very slow driver. I got places to go and people to see, so when I am stuck behind someone going 5 mph under the limit, I can get frustrated. Humans aren’t too good at waiting, especially living in the 21st century used to having access to anything in a matter of moments. Unfortunately, our frustration in waiting carries over to our relationship with God. So how should we wait on God, when He seems silent and we want answers now?! 

To set up the Scripture from Luke, it is important to know that Jesus was not some randomly born baby boy. Since the Fall of man in the Garden, we have needed a Savior. Ever since there was a need for a Savior, there was waiting on that said Savior. I'd imagine a difficult time waiting for this Savior would have been the time after Malachi. In the Old Testament, when God had something to say to His people, a lot of times He would speak through prophets. Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet before the coming of Jesus. The time between the last time God spoke to the time when Jesus arrived: 400 years! That’s a long stretch of silence, which I would think could lead to confusion, doubt, and frustration. 

Then we reach the story of Jesus in the Gospels, when God sent His Son to save the world. In Luke 3:15, we read,

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.

This John is John the Baptist, who (like Jesus) was prophesied to come in the OT. Isaiah 40 speaks of a man who would come to prepare the way for the Savior. The people were so eager for their Savior and had been waiting so long to hear from God, once they knew that John heard word from God to prepare the way for Jesus, they thought maybe he was the Savior. John sets the record straight in the following verse, Luke 3:16 says,

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John was saying that, although his baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin, Jesus would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit - He will give you power to do God’s will and ability to have a personal relationship with Him. He was fulfilling his duty to pave the way for the coming Savior. This is an interesting dialogue between people waiting for their Savior and the one who was to prepare the way for that Savior, and I believe we can learn a lot from this exchange. 

First, when we are waiting on God, we should wait expectantly. These people had zero doubt that God would send a Savior, and it said they waited “expectantly,” as if He could arrive at any moment. We are blessed to live in a time after Jesus has already come, lived, died, and rose again but there are still moments when we wait on the Lord. You could be waiting for a prayer to be answered, maybe for an illness to be healed or perhaps for God to give you direction in life. When you pray for your sick family member to be healed, do you expect God to answer and heal? When you ask God to give you direction, do you believe He will show up and give you direction or are you just going through the motions because prayer is what you’re told to do? Waiting with the expectation that God will show up takes some strong faith, but if you do it, it will deepen your faith even more - bringing you to a point of dependency on Him.

Also, when waiting on God, recognize Jesus when He answers. I love how the people were waiting on the edge of their seat for their Savior, but they didn’t recognize the right guy at first… If you are waiting on God for something (i.e. prayer to be answered), will you recognize Him when He shows up? I think a lot of times when we pray, if our prayers are answered different than how we want them to be, we’re quick to say “maybe God didn’t hear that one, maybe He didn’t care about that…” When you’re waiting on God, keep an open mind that His answers may be different than your intended request. Understand that He may show up in ways you never expected and will answer in ways you won’t expect.

Let’s be sure to wait on the Lord with the expectation that He’ll answer, and be open to recognize Jesus as He may answer in unexpected ways.