Do you hate waiting? — two instances of patience in action

Numbers 9
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I hate waiting.

I would consider myself a relatively proactive guy.  When something needs to be done, I stand up and do it immediately.  Why wait?

This drives my wife nuts, because sometimes she just wants me to sit down for a little while.  And even when I do, I’m already contemplating the next task, which doesn’t really constitute spending time with my wife at all.

Americans hate waiting too, overall.

In 1776, we owned a strip of land across the east coast.  In less than 75 years, we owned the entirety of our current mainland country, with the exception of a small strip in the southwest. We just couldn’t wait.  And that’s still the case — we invade countries, have sex, buy it on credit, and hit up the drive-thru, right now.

Is there still a case for waiting, even with such a fast-moving culture?

The Israelites had two instances of “waiting” in their journey to the promised land (apart from the huge 40 year hiatus) revealed in chapter 9 of Numbers:

1) Can we celebrate? Please?

Passover is a big deal. But some of the residents are upset because they’re “ceremonially unclean” — they had touched some dead bodies (presumably family members) and aren’t allowed to celebrate with everyone else.  But their intention is worship — so they approach Moses with the situation.

Moses responds with an answer they likely did not want to hear:

And Moses said to them, “Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”

Passover is less than two weeks away at this point.  How long would it be before the Lord responds?

Fortunately, God makes an allowance as described in the following verses, but it certainly created some tension for those guys.

(Related: Reverent Behavior – showing God you’re ready, right now)

 

2) Cloud or no cloud?

After several generations of slavery, I’m sure the Israelites were eager for some of their promised milk and honey. The manna was probably getting old too.

But God is making Israel do stutter steps.  God establishes a cloud over the tabernacle they’d just finished up and dedicated, and this cloud has no pattern whatsoever. When the cloud is on the tabernacle, they have to stay, and when it’s up, they are required to mobilize.

20 So it was, when the cloud was above the tabernacle a few days: according to the command of the Lordthey would remain encamped, and according to the command of the Lord they would journey. 21 So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey.

Sometimes, God has us stay right where we are.  And sometimes, God has us go somewhere else.  It seems trite, but the truth is obvious. We are often too hasty when it comes to making decisions on “God’s behalf.” We perceive that we’ve heard from God about some situation, and then make impulsive decisions based on a host of factors:

Fear.
Convenience.
Discomfort.
Selfishness.
Emotions.
Bad advice.

Of course, mistakes happen.  Jesus did not die to save already perfect people, so there is always room for grace.  But when the signs are obvious, stay put.  Or move.

By the way you dedicate something to God, it’s His.  Your time, your kids, your ministry, your business, your money — it’s up to Him when things develop, not you. If you don’t like that, don’t dedicate things to Him.  God won’t honor it, but at least you can do things your way. But I hope you choose otherwise.

 

Waiting is very hard. But if we move in haste, we risk dishonoring God and putting ourselves at a huge risk.

Consider this: what if Jesus had decided to act impulsively?  It’s possible we wouldn’t have this brief instance of gritty patience from Jesus on His deathbed:

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

It'll come. On schedule.
It’ll come. On schedule.

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