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Form of Sound Words (2 Tim 1:13)
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Waiting on God
Now Playing: Are we willing to wait until God shows us ?
Topic: Guidance
"And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me." (Ezekiel 12:8)

Have you ever watched a group of demonstrators carrying placards to call attention to their cause? Perhaps you have participated in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charity. Frequently people must do extraordinary things to gain publicity or call attention to their particular beliefs. There is a prophet in the Old Testament who did exactly the same thing at the direct command of God. His name was Ezekiel.

A contemporary of Jeremiah and Dariel, Ezekiel was a priest (Ezekiel 1:3), but never served as such because he was taken captive to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:10-16). Ezekiel settled with a group of exiles at Tel-Abib, a town in the interior part of Babylonia on the river Chebar. Five years after he arrived in Babylonia, when he was about thirty years of age, Ezekiel received a call from Jehovah to prophesy to the people of the captivity.

Prophesying during the darkest days of the captivity, Ezekiel was met only with indifference and despondency among the people. The captive Jews would not listen to his message. Therefore God instructed Ezekiel to resort to a more dramatic method of proclaiming the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of preaching or speaking in parables, he would act out the parable. Ezekiel would dramatize what God was about to do with His great city Jerusalem.

God reminded Ezekiel that he lived in a rebellious house amid a rebellious nation and that he should prepare to move out of that house. In order to be a visual representation of the captivity of Jerusalem, God commanded Ezekiel to "dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby." So, packing his bags, Ezekiel proceeded to gouge out a hole in the mud wall of his house, making an opening onto the street through which he would pass with his baggage. There he would wait.

"And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me" (Ezekiel 12:8). Having waited all night, Ezekiel now gave an explanation to the Israelites for his rather unusual actions. Five times in this chapter the word of the Lord came unto him; five times he had to wait on the word of the Lord. True, waiting in the comfort and privacy of his house would not have been as difficult as waiting on the sidewalk while everyone passed by, but waiting on God is never easy.

Sometimes the purposes and messages of God are revealed slowly. His grand designs can never be hurried. The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was a man of great poise and quiet manner. Yet at times he suffered from moments of frustration when he had to wait on God. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged animal.

"What's the trouble, Mr. Brooks?" he asked.

"The trouble is that I am in a hurry, but God isn't!"

We can imagine that having clawed through the wall with bags in hand and waiting on the sidewalk for God to speak to him again was difficult for Ezekiel. Nonetheless, after God initially spoke to him, it was not until the morning that God came to him the second time. Ezekiel did as God commanded him without need for explanation. But then, in full view of everyone on the street, he must patiently wait on the Lord to speak to him again.

You and I must recognize that God leads us every step of the way, whether we understand His leading or not. To hear God say "Go" or to hear Him say "Stay" is usually easier than to hear Him say "Wait"! In potential ridicule, the prophet of God waited all night to hear the Lord God give him further instructions. How long are we willing to wait on God? Do we trust Him enough to wait on Him today?

MORNING HYMN

Not ours to know the reason why

Unanswered is our prayer, But ours to

trust God's wisdom still

And to His love repair.

(selected from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr8 at 6:32 AM EST
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2005 9:55 AM EST
Sunday, February 13, 2005
God's Timetable
Now Playing: Are we looking to the Lord for His direction or just pushing our own ?
Topic: Guidance
"And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned." (Numbers 14:40)

If the child of God is to obey the will of God, he must keep his eye on the timetable of God. Israel had been miraculously delivered from Egyptian bondage by the evident power of God. Two months later the Israelites camped at the foot of Mount Sinai where Moses received the law of God. Here they remained nearly a year until God commanded them to move on to Kadesh-Barnea. Everything was right on God's schedule.

God had led His people each step of the way. But before He would lead them into the promised land, this luscious countryside had to be explored. For this task the twelve heads of their respective tribes were chosen. Their names are given at length but only two of them are memorable: Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh.

The twelve spies spent forty days on their intelligence gathering foray. Sure enough, the land was all that the Lord had promised. It was truly a land that "floweth with milk and honey." In fact, the grapes which they brought back were so robust that a cluster of them had to be borne on a staff supported on the shoulders of two men.

But the news was not all good. Ten of the returning spies reported that the people dwelt in very great, walled cities: the Amalekites in the south; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites in the mountains; and the Canaanites by the sea. But more than this, the giant sons of Anak dwelt there, before whom the spies felt as grasshoppers. In spite of the encouragement by Joshua and Caleb in the minority report, the people broke into open rebellion. God was leading them into the land, but they were afraid and would not follow His leading.

The disobedience of Israel evoked the wrath of God. All Israelites twenty years of age and older were banned from ever dwelling in the land they had refused to enter. Instead, God declared they would wander in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each day the spies were in the land, and would die during that wandering. Only Joshua and Caleb were permitted to settle in the promised land, for they alone were ready to move on God's command and according to His timetable.

When the people learned of God's sentence on their disobedience, they were not at all penitent. Instead, they resolved to atone for their sin by belatedly storming the promised land. But delayed obedience is the brother of disobedience. "And they rose up early in the morning" in preparation for their ill-fated campaign (Numbers 14:40). In spite of Moses' warning, the people marched against the Amalekites and Canaanites. What they would not do with God's help, they now attempted to do without it. First they refused to enter the land because of their unbelief in the power of God. Then they attempted to enter that same land because of their unbelief in the severity of God's judgment. In their own strength and outside of God's timing, they were sure to fail. They did. The enemy defeated the Israelites with a great slaughter and drove them back as far as Hormah.

Each of us who knows God must learn from Israel's tragedy so that it is not similarly repeated in our lives. We dare not question divine leading. If that leading is to dwell at the foot of Sinai, as the Israelites did, we must learn to be content where we are. But regardless of adverse circumstances, if God tells us that it is time to act, we have no reasonable choice but to act. Whether remaining indefinitely or moving out immediately, we must learn to follow the accurate timetable of God. This can be done successfully only when we are sensitive to that still small voice of His Holy Spirit and are willing to obey it.

MORNING HYMN

It may not be on the mountain's height,

Or over the stormy sea;

It may not be at the battle's front

My Lord will have need of me;

But if by a still, small voice He calls

To paths I do not know,

I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine

I'll go where you want me to go.

(selected from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr8 at 5:13 PM EST
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2005 9:56 AM EST

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