What happens when we focus on God, but He has not taken care of our situation? Waiting is not something that we are good at and many times we act instead of patiently waiting for God to do what He said He would do. When life is not going the way, you want, and it seems as though you are going to be ruined how are we to wait on God. Chapter 18 of Isaiah gives us some good advice during the story we have been studying about Judah having to learn to put their trust in God instead of Idols and other nations. They were a nation facing an attack by an Army that was destroying every city in their path and Isaiah was trying to get them to wait on God but it seemed as though God was not acting fast enough and that God was going to let them be destroyed.
Isaiah 18:1-3 Ah, land of whirring wings that is beyond the rivers of Cush,[a] 2 which sends ambassadors by the sea, in vessels of papyrus on the waters! Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, to a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide. 3 All you inhabitants of the world, you who dwell on the earth, when a signal is raised on the mountains, look! When a trumpet is blown, hear!
1) While waiting: Look for God’s Activity
Messengers arrived from Cush but there is no information what the message was that they brought. Some think they were a delegation party that was trying to bring peace between Judah and the Assyrians, but no one knows for sure. Many times, when we do not know what is going on and what God is up to is, we grow impatient. We must remember that God is acting while we are sleeping, and the people could see that something was going on even if they did not know what it was. Sometimes we get so focused on the problem at hand that we do not look around to see that God is doing things that may go beyond our understanding.
“Look” when the banner is raised and “Listen” when the trumpet is sounded. Banners raised and trumpets sounded were both things that took place when war began. Forgetting God and focusing on the problem takes away our perspective of what God is doing. There are things that we are to look for while we are waiting. They were watching an army of over 185,000 strong destroy city after city and now they are approaching them. God tells them to “Look” which means to focus on what is going to take place not what is currently happening. We say things like “I cannot believe God allowed this to happen” rather than “I wonder how God is going to use this” It’s because we have bought into the idea that all pain is bad.
“Nothing good could ever come from pain. Really? Nothing? Like the birth of a child, or a renewal of a forest after a fire, or the signal that something is badly wrong in my health and needs attended to? No good from pain? What about salvation of mankind? (When Life is Hard, James Macdonald, Pg 28)
There are some horrendous things in this world that God will judge one day but until that day we need to see that the things He allows He uses for purposes in our own lives and in the lives of others that go beyond our understanding. God was using the Assyrians and all their wickedness to get His children to stop worshiping other idols and to learn to put their trust in Him. Tragedy reprioritizes our lives as we focus on the important things and we get rid of the things that are not important. During your waiting on God to act you need to be looking at what He might be up to in your life and in the lives of those around you.
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
Isaiah 18:4 For thus the Lord said to me: “I will quietly look from my dwelling like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
2) While Waiting: Know that God Sees what is taking place
“I will quietly look from my dwelling” Not only does God see what is happening He is not panicked about it. To place God higher than everything shows that He is superior in every way and that He is never anxious, worried or in a hurry.
1 Peter 6:6-10 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Some versions say cast your cares or concerns on God because He cares for you. When we do not think God sees our situation, we think He does not care. How does Satan devour you? With anxiety, with cares, with concerns. Putting our faith and trust in God is easy to talk about but when the 185,000 plus army is surrounding your life, anxiety and worry seem to be the things we go to. Remembering that God sees, and He is not panicked will help you but ultimately you must trust His plan.
3)While Waiting: Remember God is with you
“Like Heat and a Cloud of Dew “ Along the same idea but separate is the idea that God is present. Because of the pain and evil in the world people called Deist believe that God set the world in motion but He is uninvolved with all of the details. The idea is that just like you cannot escape the heat and humidity neither will you be able to escape the presence of God.Many times when you are waiting for God to act the first lie you might believe is that He has abandoned you.
23:8-12 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him;
9 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.11 My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Job who went through incredible pain and heartbreak physically and emotionally and felt the pain that God was not around gives great advice. “He knows the way I take” Job trusted that God knew the path he was on no matter how painful the path was he was taking. “When He has tried me, I shall come out as Gold” Job Knew there was a reason God was allowing him to walk through this. “I have kept His way and not turned away or departed from His commandments.” What do you turn to when you feel like God has abandoned you? When you walk through dark times in your life the best thing you can do is to read His word and do the things you know He wants you to do. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that He will never leave us nor forsake us so never believe the lie that God is not with you no matter what you are going through
Isaiah 18:5 -6 For before the harvest, when the blossom is over, and the flower becomes a ripening grape he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks, and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away. 6 They shall all of them be left to the birds of prey of the mountains and to the beasts of the earth. And the birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
4) While Waiting Know that God’s Timing is perfect
In verse 5 God uses a harvesting illustration to show that He acts at the perfect time and God is going to cut the fruit off the branch before it fully develops. Some of what the Assyrians planned will come about, but God will not allow all the plans they had develop. The enemies will be left for the birds to devour and it is the 185,000 Assyrian troops that God wiped out in one night. Trusting God while you are waiting for Him to act shows the ultimate sign of your faith
Psalm 37:7-13 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him,13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.
Isaiah was trying to get the people to trust in God and not worry about what evil people were going to do to them. Nothing you walk through is outside of God’s presence but also God knows the fate of those who have caused the troubles in your life. Many people suffer because of the wickedness of others but our trust is in the Lord who laughs at them and their evil plans. Do not fret (anxious) because it only leads to evil. (Psalm 37:8) What are you waiting on God for? Being still while you wait on God is difficult but trusting Him and not growing anxious will only happen if you trust His timing.
Isaiah 18:7 At that time tribute will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and smooth, from a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide, to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the Lord of hosts.
5) How you wait will point others to God.
“A gift will be brought to Yahweh of host” Yahweh of Host is a phrase meaning God is in control. The people that came earlier to try and influence the outcome now come back to worship God. Isaiah is prophesying what will happen if they will put their trust and confidence in God and not in the other militaries or other gods. Judah was under pressure to do something, but God was calling on them to wait on Him. How you trust God while waiting for Him to act will demonstrate to others your faith but also show them who God is and God will get the glory for the victories.
2 Chronicles 32:20-23 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.
It is not just about what we are going through but also how we are going through them. Do how you go through difficulties point people to God? The Cushite’s were humbled by how God acted on behalf of His people to the point they came to worship God. For God to get the glory you have to walk through things that cannot be explained by your wisdom or abilities.