Worth the Waiting?
By Brian V. Brown
Genesis 29:15-30 NIV
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be." Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her." So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work." And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
Poor Jacob! Seven years waiting for the woman he loved and tricked by his father-in-law. And then ending up with two wives – I'll not say anything about one wife being enough!
My father-in-law made his daughter and I wait for two years before we got married. We wanted a short engagement and to get married straight away, but we had to be patient. But the wait was worth it – and we've stuck at it for 47 years now, in spite of both sets of parents saying that our marriage wouldn't last! So, I can feel for Jacob and him having to work for fourteen years for his father-in-law, just to have the beautiful girl he loved. But the wait was worth it.
However, Jacob had prospered in that fourteen years and had learnt some valuable life skills that benefited him later. Time waiting doesn't have to be wasted time, it can be put to good use. Redeem the time – once wasted, it cannot be bought back. ‘The devil makes use of idle hands' – is an expression often used of people who do not have enough to do, are often tempted to do something wrong (see also Ecclesiastes 10:18).
In fact, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to be wise in using our time . . .
Ephesians 5:15-16 KJV See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Colossians 4:5 KJV Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
We live in a world which won't wait, don't we? Must have this now, instant this, immediate that – even the coffee's instant! We don't even like waiting for a bus – if it ever turns up, of course! Patience may be a virtue, but waiting for it is a pain.
But just waiting and being patient can often lead to better things. The waiting can be used for preparation, as Jacob found out. Rather like an apprenticeship, where there's an expectation that there will be a good job once the time is served. There are lessons to be learned, so that we can be more able to do our jobs properly, and that takes time.
Jacob used the time to accumulate flocks and other goods which he would need later. He also, in that waiting period, produced the twelve sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher and Joseph – from whom descended, what are known as ‘the twelve tribes of Israel'. [It was Jacob whose name was changed to Israel – see Genesis 32:28 and Genesis 35:10 – hence, the tribes of Israel.]
So the lesson here of Jacob's 14-years of servitude, is that waiting can be useful preparation and that the waiting can be worth it in the end. So, with this in mind, I would like to turn our attention . . . .
Luke 24:45-49 NIV Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Acts 1:3-5 NIV After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Following the events of Calvary, where Jesus was so cruelly crucified, and So the disciples were exhorted to remain in Jerusalem, to receive the promised Holy Spirit.
Easter, of course, is the highlight of the Christian year – when we celebrate the risen Lord. For without the risen Saviour, the Christian Church would not exist. If Jesus had not risen, we would all be dead in our sins. If Jesus had not risen, Satan would have won. If Jesus had not risen, there would be no promise of eternal life. If Jesus had not risen, we could not receive the promised Holy Spirit.
And because Jesus did rise on that third day, we CAN look forward to that next major event in the calendar of the Christian Church – Pentecost. The time when we remember the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit on those early disciples. Often it's called the ‘Birthday' of the Church.
So between Easter and Pentecost is a waiting period – waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Easter gone, Pentecost to come. A time for preparation to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Wait for the gift my Father promised . . . in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Are we waiting for the manifestation – the pouring out of the Holy Spirit – the time when the Church is empowered? The time when we, as individuals, are empowered by the unction, the anointing, the ‘dunamis' (= power) of the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that there's 50-days between Resurrection Day and Pentecost? 50-days of waiting, of preparation. (‘Pente' = 50) ‘Pentecost' is the name given by Greek-speaking Jews to the celebration of ‘Shavuot'. ‘Shavuot' means ‘Feast of Weeks' – indicating the seven weeks after the offering of the barley sheaf during the Passover feast. It is also called ‘Feast of the Harvest'.
There are two events commemorated by Shavuot:
- The end of the grain harvest
- The giving of the 10-commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.
So Shavuot signifies the spiritual freedom granted to the Jews under the rule of God's law, or Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible).
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, Christians are not under ‘Law', they are under ‘Grace'.
It isn't the observance to a written set of rituals that Christians are required to adhere to. The Holy Spirit guides us in the obedience of God's commands – which just happens to correspond to what is already written in the Scriptures!
Matthew 5:17 NIV "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them."
So the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfils His Word.
After rising from the dead on Resurrection Day (which we call Easter Day), Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6). That's a lot of people who would be able to testify that Jesus was alive. Would you not consider that this was convincing proof that Jesus had risen from the dead? Convincing proof that God had done what He said He would do – that the prophecies in Scripture were fulfilled, just as our precious Lord said. I'm constantly amazed at the number of prophecies which were fulfilled by Jesus, and very many connected with His death and resurrection.
But there was more to come for those early disciples. And it was to be waited for. Jacob had to wait over seven years for his lovely Rebekah, as promised by his father-in-law, Laban. But the waiting was worth it. The disciples had only to wait a few short weeks to receive the promise of God. But the waiting was worth it.
Jesus had conquered death, sin, sickness and Satan. The disciples were exhilarated at having seen Jesus, resurrected. They had continued in prayer. There was an atmosphere of expectancy – "What will happen?" They were ready to receive the promise. The preparation was complete. The waiting was over – there was the sound like the blowing of a violent wind. The promise was now manifest.
Acts 2:1-4 NIV When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
The impartation of the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples. This was new. This was radical. No longer did the disciples have to rely on their own abilities. God had provided a new dimension. The power manifested by the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to preach, heal, cast out demons, teach, prophesy – just as Jesus had done. The disciples were now the channels for the power of God.
No wonder the people on that day of Pentecost were ‘utterly amazed'. From here, the Church was born, reaching out to the world, with the good news of salvation that God offers to all.
But what does it mean for us?
Well, I believe the first thing for us is to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit for ourselves, just as those first disciples of Jesus did. All the evidence in the New Testament is that the empowering for service is part of the legacy of the Cross – Jesus had to return to heaven so that the Holy Spirit could be sent to His disciples . . .
John 14:26 NIV But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:7 NIV But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Then, secondly, we wait on the Holy Spirit to guide all our activities. Be sensitive to His leading by listening to Him, focusing on developing a deep relationship with Him, taking ourselves to a quiet place to meditate on His Word and coming before Him in prayer. We can so quickly jump into things without taking it to the Lord. Let's not run ahead of God – "It's all right God, we can handle this one; we'll do it; you can sit this one out".
Let God build his church . . .
Psalm 127:1 NIV "Unless the Lord build the house, its builders labour in vain."
Our plans must be under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, otherwise they will not succeed. If we do things in our own strength, then they are not likely to succeed. We may have plenty of good ideas, but unless they line up with God's plans, then they will come to nothing. Co-operate with the Holy Spirit and see great fruit for our labours.
The promise is that, if we wait and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He will direct our paths and great blessings, beyond our expectations, will result. The choice, as always of course, is ours.
What do you want to do? Sit back and do nothing? Or move out under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.
I know what I want to do!
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