Friday, December 16

Putting Weight Behind Waiting

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

The setting is Israel turning to Egypt for help against her enemies. God is rebuking them for not seeking Him. This has been their pattern; it is the pattern of all of us when we faithlessly turn elsewhere for help.

Verse 18 is loaded. "The LORD waits to be gracious to you." Endemic to God is his desire to reveal his grace. God wants to manifest it. But isn't it the very nature of grace to do this? Isn't grace by definition God showing love and care and kindness toward the rebellious,  the recalcitrant? God gives when we do not deserve his gifts. That's grace. Of course, the pinnacle of God's rich grace is the cross. But he shows it in innumerable ways for all of us and always. As Paul puts it so well, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It [viz., the same grace] teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:11-12 NIV). In other words, the same exalted grace that provided the amazing atonement for mankind continues affecting change in the believer, causing him to achieve Spirit-filled fruits, "self-control, uprightness," etc. Indeed, Jehovah waits to be gracious.

Thus, Jehovah "exalts himself to show mercy." God, by all rights, should let the ax fall on all of mankind who have turned radically against him. Israel should not become the whipping boy of sin. We all fit the same pattern. Point? When by all rights God should bring down justice on our pate, and he refuses to do so, then that magnifies his grace, and his mercy. He cannot but be just. Such is God's very nature. So, for the everlasting Judge of all the earth to stay our execution is one thing. Marvelous indeed! But to go well beyond that and effect such a genetic change in us rebels that we then exhibit the DNA of God . . . well, . . . that is a mercy beyond the pale of human expression. 

Upon whom does such grace and mercy land? The answer is found in the bookend statements in this verse. "Jehovah WAITS to be gracious to you." That's the first. Then the second is, "blessed are all those who WAIT for him." Waiting is the key. It is wait of kindness and patience on God's end; it is a waiting of faith and dependence on ours. 

Let us learn to wait for God's grace and mercy and kindness and love. He delights to show it. He is exalted to offer it. We are thrice-blessed to receive it! 

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