Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Wait?

Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?
These are the words of a wicked king of Israel, Jehoram, spoken in 2 Kings 6. We advise our readers to read the chapter to see the provocations Jehoram was under; Samaria was under siege, the people were starving, and he had just discovered a disgusting case of cannibalism. Everything seemed desperate. So he spoke these words.

We are today in the Church often tempted to say the same. Thank God that these words are in the Bible, even if they are the product of unbelief. But Jehoram was an idolater, a member of a doomed house upon whom the judgement of God would surely come. If we are Christians our situation is quite different, for we have many great and precious promises from God. Christ has promised to build His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The unbelieving king had reason to wait for God, for God had delivered his land before. God had brought Israel out of Egypt, and had driven out the Canaanites before them. He asked 'What should I wait for the Lord any longer?' and he was answered.
2 Kings 7.1: Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
2: Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

We are tempted to limit God as the lord on whose hand the king leaned did. But God CAN make windows in heaven if He so chooses, and pour out His spirit upon the Church. The Church has, as Chesterton said,
'Five times in the history of Europe the church has appeared to go to the dogs, and each time it was the dog that died!'

How shall we apply these words personally?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8.28)
We know. How do we know? Do we know it merely intellectually? No! the Christian knows it by experience, as Israel knew God's protection. Not that He keeps us from suffering and trials, but that He keeps us in them, and uses them for our good.
Isaiah 43.1: But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2: When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3: For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4: Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5: Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
6: I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
7: Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Note the "When". Thou shalt pass through the fire and the waters, but God will be with thee in all these things, and that is enough. This evil is of the Lord, therefore we ought to wait for Him.
Begone unbelief, my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear:
By prayer let me wrestle, and He wilt perform,
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way, since He is my Guide,
’Tis mine to obey, ’tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken, and creatures all fail,
The Word He has spoken shall surely prevail.

His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review,
Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.

Determined to save, He watched o’er my path,
When Satan’s blind slave, I sported with death;
And can He have taught me to trust in His Name,
And thus far have brought me, to put me to shame?

Why should I complain of want or distress,
Temptation or pain? He told me no less:
The heirs of salvation, I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord.

How bitter that cup, no heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up, that sinners might live!
His way was much rougher, and darker than mine;
Did Jesus thus suffer, and shall I repine?

Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine is food;
Though painful at present, wilt cease before long,
And then, O! how pleasant, the conqueror’s song!

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