Waiting on the Lord with Patience and Trust
Texts: Isaiah 35; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:1-11
We all wait on things in our lives.
- In lines -- why is the bank always busy when I’m in a rush?
- For medical information -- the waiting can create anxiety.
- For a special trip -- time can’t go fast enough!
Waiting carries with it an expectancy of something to be revealed or happen. In Isaiah 35, the prophet describes a vision of restoration that is to come...but it is a future restoration, and the people have to learn how to wait on the Lord in hope.
- The vision describes the return of the people of God to Zion (Jerusalem)
- The vision describes a period after the exile they haven’t yet experienced
- It is portrayed as a second exodus, redemption through the wilderness
- Thus, the people must receive this vision in hope--and wait upon the Lord for this hope to be revealed, for the vision to be made clear.
- The vision is ultimately about the salvation of God’s people:
- Salvation will be given--so be strong and do not fear (4).
- The salvation that will be given is a restoration of wholeness, like the reversal of a desert in a lush land (5-7).
- The restoration is for God’s people (8-10).
We have seen the beginnings of this restoration. We see the firstfruits of it--Christ, God’s promised one, in whom the restoration began and in whom it will find its fulfillment--and we live in the time in which that restoration has begun and when it will be fulfilled. So we, like the people who heard Isaiah’s declaration, must wait upon the Lord. James advocates that we do so with patience (5:7-10).
- Be patient, like a farmer who must wait for the seasonal rains (7).
- Be patient, until the Lord’s coming (7).
- Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (8).
- Don’t grumble against one another, because the Judge is standing at the door (9).
- Three times, the people are exhorted to patience in light of the return of the Lord!
Finally, James provides an example of patience--the prophets, who often suffered while announcing, and waiting themselves, for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Jesus called attention to a great prophet who suffered while preaching about God’s promises--John the Baptist. What greater prophet was there than John?
- John preached that the vision of Isaiah 35 was fulfilled in Jesus! (4-6)
- But Jesus asked, what did you expect when you went out to the desert? (7-9)
- A reed swayed by the wind--someone whose message changed to be popular?
- A king who would rule the people?
- No, they went to see a prophet--one who announced the salvation of the Lord and the demands of repentance.
As we contemplate the final restoration, and how we wait upon the Lord patiently in trust, we must ask ourselves similar questions:
- Why did you come here this morning? To hear a motivational message that suits your needs, or to be challenged by the gospel?
- What did you expect this morning--pomp and circumstance, or a call to repentance and obedience?
- Why are you here--to check your boxes, or to celebrate with the people of God, remembering Jesus’ past sacrifice and anticipating his return, and conforming your life into his image in the meantime?
- Why are you here?