‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ ~ Isaiah 40:31
It first started with mankind hiding from God. After Adam and Eve sinned because they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ‘they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden’ (Genesis 3:8). Luckily, the fate of mankind did not end there, ‘But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ (v9). Of course man was found by God, but since then, man’s question to God became, Where are you? This has led to many looking up to the sky, with some claiming to have found God in the sun, moon, stars, trees, universe, and all manner of things. But in reality, what they have found is gods of their own making and imagination. For such, their expectations are soon cut short, because ‘the longings of the wicked will come to nothing’ (Psalm 112:10). In other words, ‘the hopes of the wicked are cut short’ (Proverbs 10:28). In their attempts to find God by their own wisdom and means, nothing truly satisfies their quest and they soon find out that their ‘bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you’ (Isaiah 28:20).
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it’ (30:v15). Thus, in waiting and watching for God, we find His salvation and strength – we find Him. To those who find this unrealistic, utter folly, and have ‘gone in search of many schemes’ (Ecclesiastes 7:29), God notes, ‘You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!’ (Isaiah 30:16). The natural tendency of man is to wander and wonder, instead of waiting and watching. Waiting seems like an energy-drain, instead of a strength-gain, and watching a time-waster, instead of as an indicator of trust. What then ends us happening is that such forget God ‘days without number’ (Jeremiah 2:32), simply because they refuse to wait and watch for Him. In turn, God cannot show Himself to those who do not expect or even look forward for Him, because He will be an unwelcomed visitor. Thus, ‘Blessed are all who wait for him!’ (Isaiah 30:18).
Before Jesus was born, many Jews waited for His appearing. The holy Prophets who had prophesied of a Messiah that would redeem Israel from their captivity, caused many to watch- but in the wrong direction. They did not watch and wait on God, but on a human being. They looked among their kinsmen for the Messiah. So, when the true Messiah was revealed among them, they did not acknowledge Him, and asked, ‘How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ (John 7:42). Many people were expecting a regal individual from David’s lineage, who would make war like David and redeem the Jews from their captors. They waited on a twisted hope and watched in the wrong direction. Jesus knowing what they had expected, asks, ‘How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? . . . David calls him ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son?’ (Luke 20:41,44). Since they had a human-centred notion of the Messiah, and not a spiritual one as the Scriptures predicted, they could not find an answer. Even to date, many wait and watch in the wrong direction. They turn to man and his invented religion. As a result, many maintain enmity to God simply because of their own imaginations and assumptions of Him.
However, there were a few people who actually waited and watched for God. It is noted that Simeon was a ‘righteous and devout man’ (Luke 2:25), and ‘was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him’ (v25). Simeon waited for God’s appearance and watched in the right direction, because ‘It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ’ (v26). With this revelation, Simeon did not go about helter-skelter, but rather, ‘Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts’ (v27), waiting in God’s presence. So when the child Jesus was presented to the temple, Simeon did not miss to find Him because he was waiting and watching for the Messiah. Once Simeon saw the child Jesus, he ‘took him in his arms and praised God saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all the people’ (v28-31).
Another watcher and waiter of God was Prophetess Anna who ‘never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying’ (v37). Anna ‘had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow for eighty-four years’ (v36-37). Although she had waited many years in the temple and was ‘very old’ (v36), her waiting was not in vain. Because when the child Jesus was presented to the temple, she came ‘up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem’ (v38). Anna is a demonstration that waiting and watching for God is continual, no matter the days or years it takes. When we watch and wait for God, it is impossible to miss His visitation. Although we might not have in detail what to expect while waiting, once He appears to us, we will know that we have truly found Him. For those who watch and wait for God, ‘surely there is an end; and your expectation shall not be cut off’ (Proverbs 23:18).
When Zacchaeus ‘wanted to see who Jesus was’ (Luke 19:3), being a short man, ‘he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way’ (v4). Waiting and watching for God breeds a desire that becomes evident in our actions. We become proactive in diligently seeking God like Zacchaeus did, and get the courage to scale great heights and do the unthinkable. Zacchaeus, though wealthy, did not mind climbing a tree and overlooked his reputation for Kingdom sakes. So, ‘When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today’ (v5). Zacchaeus was awed and ‘welcomed him gladly’ (v6). His zealous watching and waiting for Jesus caused him to have the Messiah step foot into his abode. Jesus even says to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because this man, too is a son of Abraham’ (v9). Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ longing and gave him lasting riches, salvation.
Joseph of Arimathea was also spurred into action by his waiting and watching for God. He was a ‘member of the Council, a good and upright man’ (23:v50), and when Jesus died, he went to Pilate and ‘asked for Jesus’ body’ (v52). What stirred Joseph to give a proper burial to Jesus was the fact that ‘he was waiting for the Kingdom of God’ (v51). This caused him to take action, because waiting and watching for God is not a passive state, but an active one. It involves searching His Word, seeking Him in prayer, and serving Him in our capacities. The extent to which we wait on God also determines the extent to which He appears to us. ‘When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle’ (v8). Herod was mostly interested in Jesus’ miracles, and not in Him entirely. Although he finally met Jesus, He did not speak to him. Like Herod, some of us meet a ‘dumb’ Messiah, because our expectation of Him is out of pure heresy and not what we ourselves have sought to know in full. We then end up with a watered-down experience of God because we only desire a part of Him, and not all of Him.
Believers who have had Christ appear into their hearts, also watch and wait for something else. We long ‘for a better country – a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16). We continually wait and watch for an eternal kingdom, ‘the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God’ (v10). In the waiting and watching, we ‘ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming’ (1 Peter 3:11). Our wait not only has desire and expectancy, but is in deed by aligning to God’s Word and His Spirit. Paul says, ‘Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’ (2 Timothy 4:8). So, all watchers and waiters of God live in His presence and precepts, expecting that prospect – the victor’s crown. Like Habakkuk, we say, ‘I will stand at my watch and station myself on the tower; I will watch to see what he (God) will say to me’ (Habakkuk 2:1). We also watch and wait knowing that, ‘The Lord is good to those whose wait on him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord’ (Lamentations 3:25-26). For it is only ‘he who stands firm to the end will be saved’ (Matthew 24:13).
‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come’ ~ Matthew 24:42
‘So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him‘ ~ 2 Peter 3:14
‘Wait for the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord~ Psalm 27:14