Stand alone day
Watch the service
Waiting is a Blessing
Waiting is the worst. When I was a child, on most summers, we got to go to the county fair. Some of my friends liked the animals at the fair. Some of my friends liked the food and the music. But I looked forward to one thing: the rides. And I looked forward to the day I’d get to go on the greatest ride ever invented: The Zipper. And I remember that day I was finally tall enough to ride the Zipper. I waited so many years. And I was finally ready. But when we got there, there sat the Zipper, not spinning around at all. It was broken down. Waiting was the worst. And then I got in line to go onto some of the other rides. And at least one of those rides broke down and all that time waiting was wasted. Waiting was the worst. It is true that there are times that waiting can be frustrating. But, my friends in Christ, there are times that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are times that waiting is a blessing. We hear about this, not on the mount of Transfiguration. Instead, we hear about this hundreds of years before this on Mount Sinai: “When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.”” (Exodus 24:3 NIV11-GKE)
These words are some of the most genuine and also the most tragic words to read in the entire bible. The Lord had Moses give the Hebrews hundreds and hundreds of commands. And at the end of it, they said, “All of these statements, we will get done.”1 What would you compare this statement to? Years ago, when I was in high school, at the beginning of the year, my math teacher handed us all a blank sheet of paper. And he had us write down the grade each of us thought we’d earn for ourselves at the end of the year. So I wrote down a pretty high grade. That was the year I learned that math was not my strongest subject. And one of the saddest days at the end of the year was completely forgetting about that sheet of paper written in my own hand. And then then I got it back and could see clearly that I did not live up to my own expectations. These Hebrews promised it all, but delivered nothing. In fact, a month down the road they’re going to be worshipping a golden calf instead of the true Lord. And my dear friends in Christ, the same is true of us. We can promise so much. But we can fail and fall so easily and often. That’s why the next verse we read means so much to them and us: “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”” (Exodus 24:8 NIV11-GKE)
Moses sprinkled pretty much everything in the the temple and every person around the temple in blood. On the one hand, that blood sealed their failure. It was a witness against them that they promised to carry out everything written in the law. And then, after their promise, they failed. But, my dear friends in Christ, that blood also sealed their forgiveness. For that blood reached forward to the blood of one man who died to take away the sins of the world. And that seal of forgiveness meant some real and lasting results in the lives of the Hebrews. We read: “9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:9–11 NIV11-GKE)
Because that blood connected them to the blood of Jesus to come we can read some absolutely amazing events. First, seventy elders of the Hebrew people saw the Lord as if seeing him in a vision. And under their feet was blue, sparkly pavement like the purest blue sky. They had a vision of heaven. Second, God did not strike them down. Third, they ate and drank and feasted there. It was like heaven itself there on that mountain. And all of it was made possible by blood, the blood sacrificed then that connected them to Jesus later.
How meaningful that fact is for us today. For there are times in our lives where it seems as if waiting is the worst. And here, to be very specific, what I mean is this: there are times that seem as if God was waiting to spring a trap on us. For we have a temptation and then we give into it. And then, afterwards, we think about it little. And we realize that, if God is all-knowing and all-caring, couldn’t he have kept that trap and temptation away? It’s like God was there, waiting, ever-so-patiently for us to fall.
These words give us the whole truth. If we want to think about waiting, let’s look at it from God’s perspective. There he was, waiting. He waited for these fools to make promises they could never keep. Then he waited for them to break them by worshipping a golden calf. And he waited for them to grumble and threaten to murder Moses. And he waited for them to rebel. And yet, time and time again, he lovingly and longingly urged them to repent of their sins and forgave them. Now can you begin to see how waiting is a blessing? God’s waiting is a blessing for us. His mercy turns away his hand of wrath. Jesus sacrifice seals our forgiveness. But, my friends, there’s another way that waiting is a blessing. We read: “12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” 13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.” 15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:12–18 NIV11-GKE)
God’s waiting is a blessing. But notice how the direction changes here. Our waiting is a blessing too. After this amazing dinner, the elders have to wait. Then Moses has to wait for an entire week, seemingly sitting there spinning his wheels. Then, finally, he’s allowed to go up onto the mountain into the glory of the Lord. And we see from their lives and examples what it brought to them: Appreciation and Proof. It gave them appreciation of what they had and proof that the Lord will keep his promises.
And the same is true of us. First of all, the Lord gives us appreciation of what we have right here and now. One of the temptations we can fall into is the pine away about what will be coming down the road and lose sight of what is right there in front of our face. During this time of the year, when my brother and I were small, we’d get into fights about the toys we had. Dan had more legos than I had or better ones. So, I told mom that she had to get me more and better legos in the near future. What was mom’s solution to this problem? She locked me and Dan outside and made us to sledding in the fluffy snow. And to this day I have so many good memories of those rare days when there was that snow out there, and we were young enough that there was nothing on our agenda but playing in the snow. She had us wait—both wait for getting more legos and wait to get back indoors so that we would appreciate what was right there in front of our face. And our good and gracious Lord does the same. He has us wait so that we would really, truly appreciate the gifts of body and soul, law and gospel that are right here in front of us today.
The first blessing of our waiting is appreciation. But the final one is proof. Why do you pray before you eat? There are many beautiful and wonderful answers you could share as an an answer. But we shouldn’t forget that when we pause and thank our Lord for these good and gracious gifts, we are reminding ourselves that the Lord keeps his promises. And all these times we wait for just a moment before we eat remind us, that time and time again, what he promises, he fulfills. For, if Jesus delays in coming, there will be a time in our lives and maybe more than one where we doubt that our Lord can deliver. Then, in those times, what will we be able to do? We will be able to look back and stack up all the times he had us wait on him like building a giant lego house. And we’ll be able to conclude: if there there are countless times he kept he promises in the past, won’t he also keep them today.
1 ”כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר יְהוָה נַעֲשֶׂה“ (Exodus 24:3 HMT-W4)