The title of our message Wait on the Lord comes from the book of Isaiah 40:27-31.
This passage is a great reminder for us, as it was for Israel that we must always trust in God. We must remain faithful to God during our good times as well as during our bad times. We must not look at our hardships and difficulties as though God has forgotten about us, as though He is unaware of our troubles. As the apostle Paul stated, God is faithful even when we our faith begins to fade because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
The book of Isaiah records the details of Israel’s sin and rebellion against the Sovereign Lord – our God. Because Israel chose not to choose God as their Savior, because Israel turned their backs on God and looked to the surrounding nations for rescue and redemption, God gave them over to themselves and let them have their way (Romans 1:26). The result of Israel placing their trust in the nations instead of in God was that they were lead into captivity. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians each had a hand in carrying out God’s judgment on Israel for their sin. Again, God is faithful even when our faith begins to fade.
Isaiah 40 marks the Lord’s promise to once again come to the aid of Israel and rescue them as He had done so many times before. However, the salvation of the Lord is conditional. This was true for Israel and it is true for us as well. The condition is this; if we wait on the Lord we shall be redeemed, rescued, and restore by our Omnipotent God.
The word wait that Isaiah uses in verse 31 has three specific meanings, and these meanings will be the focus of our message tonight. When Isaiah tells Israel that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…mount up with wings like eagles…run and not be weary…walk and not faint, what he is saying is that those who serve the Lord, those who have an unceasing expectation of the Lord, and those who are gathered to the Lord will benefit from the Lord’s power. When we minister to God, when we expect God to do what He has promised, and when we commit ourselves to doing His will, then we shall draw strength from Him and our strength will be renewed.
The first meaning of the word wait brings to mind a picture of a waiter or waitress. For example, when we go out to eat somewhere like Mahogany, the Mantel, or maybe Chilis or Appleby’s, we are seated at a table and shortly after this we are visited by someone who politely introduces themself by saying, “My name is_______________, and I am your waiter/waitress”. Without thinking about it, we understand that this person is here to do what? They are here to serve us. They will ask us what we would like to drink and what we would like to eat. During our meal, if we start to run low on water or whatever beverage we have, we can call to this person and request that they fill our glasses. If you’re like me and you get a sauce with your meal you will always ask for more sauce. You can never have too much sauce. My son is learning this valuable lesson at a young age. We were in Wal-Mart the other day and when we passed by the Ketchup, he excitedly said – “Dip!” Now, just like the restaurant waiter/waitress who is supposed to serve us, we must also serve God.
What does it look like for us to serve God? Well, here is an example from Joshua 24:14-24. In our English language, whenever we are told to wait for something or someone it is usually passive. We must “wait” – sit still, be idle. On the contrary, oftentimes when the word wait is used in the Bible it is active. Joshua says to the Israelites, and to us, that if we will wait on/serve the Lord we must do so in sincerity and truth. In order to serve the Lord Joshua says we must put away false gods. Twice Joshua says to the Children of Israel, “put away your false gods” (24:14, 23). He says, if you will serve the True and Sovereign Lord you must no longer work for the approval of others, instead you must worship the Lord only. And the people say to Joshua, we will indeed obey the voice of the Lord.
Going back to our analogy of the waiter/waitress, we often treat God like we are treated at restaurants. When a waiter/waitress says that they are “your” waiter/waitress you understand that what they are NOT saying is that they will ONLY serve you. You know that they have other customers to tend to, but if we will wait on the Lord, we must serve only Him. We must not worship anything or anyone besides Him, we must not seek the approval of anyone or anything other than our God, we must never honor anyone or anything above the Lord. Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Wait on the Lord and your strength shall be renewed.
Not only are we to wait on/serve the Lord with our worship and obedience, we must also wait on the Lord in faith with an unceasing expectancy. It seems to me that the church in America has given up on expecting God to do great things; things which are unexplainable and beyond human reasoning. We have reduced God and the power of God to helping us find jobs, spouses, pain relief from headaches, our faith in God and His ability to do exceedingly abundantly above more than we can ask or think is limited to Him helping us find our car keys.
I know that not every Believer has this limited view of how awesome our God is, but too many of us do. God said through the prophet Isaiah that if we will wait on Him, if we will have an unceasing expectation of God to do the unthinkable He will give power to the weak! In Hebrews 11:11, it states that, by faith Sarah received strength to conceive because she expected God to fulfill His promise. By faith the 3 Hebrew boys, certainly having never seen anyone come out of Nebuchadneezar’s fire alive, expected that God would come through and save them. The Bible tells many stories where the weak were made strong, where the dead were brought back to life. Where hope was restored, where the captive became the conqueror, and where God was made famous because His people dared to wait on Him.
In a world where teen pregnancies and fatherless homes are increasing by the hour, do we expect God to break the curse of the enemy and return the hearts of the fathers to the children (Malachi 4:6), or will we cast them off as hopeless while our society invests in prolonging their captivity rather than their freedom? Do we expect God to bring healing to a nation torn apart by racism and political affiliation? I don’t even think this crosses our minds let alone our prayers. When will we pray to the Lord of the harvest and ask Him to pour out His Spirit on us that we might be empowered to boldly proclaim His sovereignty to all the earth? Will we wait on the Lord and expect Him to do what only He can do? Wait on the Lord and then you will mount up with wings like eagles!
Finally, to wait on the Lord means to minister to or serve God, it means to have an unceasing expectation for God to perform the miraculous, and it also means that we must be joined to God. Now this last meaning is one we may be the least familiar with. What does it mean to be joined to God? Well, the description of this word comes from the original word kaw-vaw which means to twist or gather together. The word “wait” in Isaiah 40:31 is the same word used in Genesis 1:9 where God, on the third day of creation, says “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered (wait) together into one place….” Let that soak in for just a minute.
In Psalms 133 David says, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forevermore” (Ps. 133:1,3). Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there says the Lord! As a church we are gradually losing our ability to influence the culture because we have succumbed to the deception of individualism. There is no longer one church consisting of all of God’s people, now we have denominational churches (Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Catholic), we have racial churches, we refer to them as the White church or the Black church, we have churches based on a person sexuality where homosexuals go to one church and all the straight people go to another church, we have poor churches, and rich churches. When this attitude starts to dominate our thinking we become weak, we start to faint and grow weary. BUT, when we gather ourselves, as a Body of Believers, and we stand with the Lord in agreement that His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor or His ways our ways (Isa. 55:8-9) and we start to say – not my will, but Your will be done (Luke 22:42), then we will mount up with wings like eagles, then we shall run and not be weary, then we shall walk and not faint. Wait on the Lord and let Him renew your strength.
I will end by saying this, you cannot serve a God you have not trusted. You do not expect anything from a God who does not honor His Word, and you will never gather yourself to a God you do not believe in! Wait on the Lord! “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). But if we will wait on the Lord by serving Him with our worship and obedience, if we will continue to expect God to honor His promises and look to Him to do the miraculous, and if we will gather ourselves under the mighty hand of God then we will renew our strength.