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Waiting for God's Appointed Time - Genesis Part 39

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2022 7:00 am

Waiting for God's Appointed Time - Genesis Part 39

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 3, 2022 7:00 am

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Well, waiting in line at the DMV, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting in traffic on the Beltway, waiting for your boss to make a decision, waiting for a representative to finally pick up the telephone. I hate waiting. Anytime, anywhere, for anything, I can't stand waiting.

Any of you guys like me? Yeah. Well, this is what we're going to talk about today as we return to our study of the Book of Genesis.

We're going to talk about waiting, but we're not going to talk about waiting at the DMV or waiting on the Beltway. We're going to talk about waiting on the Lord in our life. And so are you ready to do this? Yeah. Okay. Our passage is Genesis Chapter 18.

But before we dig in, a little bit of review would be in order. Last week, if you remember, in Genesis 18, we saw that three men came to visit Abraham when he was living in Hebron. And as we discovered last week in our passage, two of these men were angels in human form who then went on from their meeting with Abraham down to Sodom and Gomorrah.

We'll talk more about that in the weeks to come. The third man was actually the living God himself in a theophany. A theophany is just a fancy theological word for an appearance of God himself in human form. And exactly why did God come to visit Abraham? Well, he came to announce Sarah's impending pregnancy. Genesis 18, verse 10. And the Lord said to Abraham, I will surely return to you at this time next year. And behold, Sarah, your wife will have a son.

But if you were here last week, you remember that there was a problem. Verse 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age. Abraham was 100 years old. Sarah was 90. And the Bible says it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. In other words, Sarah was no longer ovulating.

According to Romans four, verse 19, Sarah's womb was dead, making this pregnancy impossible by every natural law known to man. Okay, so that's where we've been. Let's pick up now. Genesis, chapter 18, verse 12.

Here we go. Now, when Sarah heard this, you say heard what? Well, when she heard she was going to be pregnant, she laughed, saying, After I have become so old, shall I have this pleasure? My Lord, that is, Abraham being old also. Then the Lord said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Indeed, shall I have a child when I'm old?

Is anything too hard for the Lord? God went on to say at the appointed time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son. And this is precisely what happened. Genesis 21, verse one. Now the Lord remembered Sarah just as he had said, and he did for Sarah just as he had promised. And so Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time, just as God has said. And Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now, there was a critical phrase that was used two times by the Bible in the passage we just looked at. And I hope you picked up on it. It's the phrase at the appointed time.

And this is what we want to talk about today. So let's go back a little bit in the Book of Genesis and let's do some remembering. Okay, let's remember that for 25 years, God had been promising Abraham that his wife Sarah would have a son. The first promise God made, Abraham came in Genesis Chapter 12 when he was 75 years old. Verse one. Now the Lord said to Abraham, Go forth from your country and your relatives and your father's house to the land I'll show you.

And I will make you a great nation. So Abraham went forth as the Lord had commanded him. And Abraham was 75 years old when he left. And Abraham took Sarah and they came to the land of Canaan. Then the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to your descendants, I will give this land friends. The point is, in order for Abraham to become verse one, a great nation in order for the promised land, verse seven to be given to his descendants. Obviously, Abraham and Sarah had to have a son. Now, God repeated this promise about Abraham and Sarah having a son in the next chapter. Genesis 13, verse 14.

Then the Lord took Abraham and said to him, Lift up your eyes and look north, south, east and west. All the land you see, God said to him, I will give you and your what? Your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, God says, so that if anyone can count the dust of the earth, only then could your descendants be counted. Once again, you're going to have descendants.

You got to have a son. God repeated this promise a third time in Genesis, chapter 15, verse one. Then the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision saying, Do not fear Abraham, for I am your shield and your very great reward. But Abraham said, Oh, sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the heir of my estate is my servant Eliezer of Damascus? Now, as you may recall, when we were studying in Genesis 15, I told you about the archaeological excavations at a town named Newsy. It's a town from Abraham's time. And here at Newsy, archaeologists discovered thousands of clay tablets that detail for us the social customs in the ancient Near East at 2100 BC at the time that the Bible says Abraham lived.

One of these customs was that if you were childless, you were allowed to adopt, if you would, and appoint one of your household servants as your heir, which is exactly what Abraham is talking about here in Genesis 15 when he says, My servant Eliezer is my heir. The point is that once again, we find Abraham's actions as described in the Bible aligning perfectly with the customs of the ancient Near East that archaeologists have discovered from Abraham's time. Or, as we like to say it here at McLean Bible Church, I want you to say it with me when I say three. Here we go.

One, two, three. The more they dig out of the ground, the more the Bible proves to be right. Verse four. Then the word of the Lord came to Abraham and said, This man, Eliezer, will not be your heir, but a son who will come from your own body. He will be your heir. And the Lord took Abraham and said, Look up at the stars and count them if you can. So shall your descendants be? Okay, so far, so good, right?

Right. Abraham has three different promises from God that he and Sarah are going to have a son. But when we get to Genesis Chapter 16, Abraham is 86 years old. It's been 11 years that have gone by and Abraham and Sarah still don't have a son.

Chapter 16, verse one. Now, Sarah, Abraham's wife, had borne him no children, but she had an Egyptian handmaiden named Hagar. So Sarah said to Abraham, The Lord has kept me from having children. Go sleep with my handmaiden.

Perhaps I can build a family through her. Now, once again, we know from the tablets at Newsy that this kind of surrogate motherhood was a socially acceptable and legal custom in the days of Abraham. And so Abraham did what Sarah asked him to do. And he had a son by Hagar, whom he named Ishmael.

But my friends, as Genesis 16 says, Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. But this was not the son that God was talking about at all. The son that God was talking about. He still made Abraham and Sarah wait another 14 years for that son, which brings us back to Genesis 18, where we started today. Verse 14, God says at the appointed time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son. And so Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time, just as God had said.

And Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in our passage for today, because it's time for us to ask our most important question. All of you out there on the Internet and everybody here at Tysons, we know what this question is. So are we ready? OK, you ready?

Everybody ready? All right. Here we go. Come on now.

One, two, three. No. How sweet it is. Y'all are the greatest.

You go, Lon. All right. So what I mean, Abraham and Sarah in 25 years, he's 100 years old and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What difference does any of that make to me today in my life?

Well, let's talk about that. The question we have to answer today is this. Why did God make Abraham and Sarah wait so long, 25 years before giving them Isaac? And the answer is because God had, say it with me, an appointed time for Sarah's pregnancy and for Isaac's birth. My friends, God has an appointed time for everything. We can't always figure it out. We don't always understand what he's up to.

We can't always trace what's going on. But I'm telling you, God has an appointed time for every single thing. When I think of this, I think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John Chapter 11. Remember, Mary and Martha were his sisters and they lived in Bethany.

John Chapter 11, verse three. So the sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, saying, Lazarus, the one you love is sick. Now, Jesus did love Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days. Finally, the Bible says, upon their arrival in Bethany, meaning Jesus and the disciples, they discovered that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Then Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Now, what's Martha saying to Jesus? What she's saying to him is, Lord, you were late. You didn't get here on time when we really needed you here. You weren't here and you messed everything up because you didn't do what I wanted you to do. When I needed you to do it, you were late, late, late. Now, I've got to tell you, Martha is not the only person who's had this problem.

I have this problem. I don't care what the situation is in life, doesn't matter. I always know what I want God to do and I always know how I want God to do it. And I always know when I want God to do it, which is right now. But you see, God had an appointed time for showing up and raising Lazarus from the dead.

And God had an appointed time for Sarah's pregnancy. And friend, God has an appointed time for every detail of my life and every detail of your life. Isaiah 55, verse 8, God says, My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways, your ways. And may I add, neither is my timing your timing, says the Lord. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts and my timing higher and better than your timing. Another way to say this is to say that God's perfect plan for our life has a perfect timing that comes with it. And therefore, if we want to see God's richest blessing on our lives, we must be willing. Look here, to wait not only on God's will for our life, but also on God's timing for our life.

I want to repeat that if you don't get anything else today, you get this, that God's perfect plan for our lives has a perfect timing that comes with it. And therefore, if we want God's richest blessing, it's not enough just to wait on God's will. We have to also wait on God's timing. This is why David said, Psalm 27 verse 14, wait on the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. May I remind you waiting on the Lord is not a position of weakness, it's a position of strength. Yes, wait on the Lord. Psalm 37 verse 7, rest in the Lord and wait. What's the next word? Patiently for him. Now this is not a word we're good at, none of us. You're not good at waiting patiently, I'm not good at waiting patiently and I'll tell you why, because patience is simply not part of our human sinful flesh.

It just isn't. But for those who wait on the Lord, look at the wonderful promise God gives us. Isaiah 49 verse 23, those he says who wait on me shall never be put to shame.

Wow. You know, I've been a believer in Jesus 42 years. In all of that time, I have never, to the best of my recollection, had a single fellow believer ever walk up to me and accuse God of being early. You ever had anybody accuse God of being early?

No. Now by the same token, God is never late. Although I've had a lot of believers walk up and accuse him of that and I've accused him of that myself. Friends, God is never early and God is never late. God is always right on schedule, his schedule, and God is always right on time.

His time. When I think of this, I think of Moses and the Israelites trapped at the Red Sea with Pharaoh's chariots swooping down on them and with their backs to the water. And I can't help but think that Moses, watching this unfold, must have turned and looked up to heaven and said, hey, God, you're late.

But you know what? By the time the Red Sea had opened and the Red Sea had shut and the Israelites were safely on the other side, Moses realized, however, that God wasn't late. God was right on schedule. And then I think of David running from Saul and hiding in caves for seven years, even after he'd been anointed by Samuel as the king and living like a criminal. And I'm sure there were days in those cold, damp caves at night where David would look up and say, God, you're late. What about this king thing? Did you know you're late?

Ah, but you know what? When Saul died in battle without David lifting a pinky to be a part of that, thus enabling David to consolidate his kingship over Israel without a nasty civil war, David learned that God was right on schedule, just like he said. And then I think of Ruth and Naomi coming back to Bethlehem as poor widows. They were so poor that they had to go out and pick up food off the ground in order to eat and survive. And I'm sure there was many a night for them sitting hungry around the fire where they said, God, you're late.

Ah, but Boaz showed up right on schedule, folks. Oh, yes, he rode into that field and he saw Ruth and he was right on time. And what about Daniel getting tossed into the lion's den by King Darius? And they rolled a stone over the door and they left him there all night for dead. And so there he is sitting in this lion's den looking at these lions face to face, eyeball to eyeball. Don't you think Daniel might have looked up and said, hey, Lord, you're late. But after God had sent his angel and shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel walked out the next morning safe and sound, what did Daniel learn? That God was right on schedule.

Now, why don't we stop talking about Daniel and Naomi and Ruth and Moses and talk about you and me? Because as followers of Christ, we all struggle with this very same conflict between God's timing and our timing. Many of us plan to be married at this point in our life. But in God's timing, we're not. And many of us plan to have that new job or that new promotion by this point in our life. But in God's timing, we don't. And many of us have planned to be financially secure at this point in our life. But in God's timing, we're not. And many of us have planned to have children running around our home by this point in our lives. But in God's timing, we don't.

Many of us have planned to go to a certain college or to go to a certain medical school or go to a certain graduate school or to be farther along in our career than we are. But in God's timing, well, you know. Now, as followers of Jesus, what do we do with this? Well, friends, here's what we do with it. We apply biblical truth to it.

That's what we do. And the biblical truth we apply is Proverbs 16, verse 9. The Bible says the mind of man plans his way. I'm going to be married. I'm going to have children. I'm going to be here. I'm going to have this job. I'm going to be over here. I'm going to have this career.

Fine. The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. And you see, true men and women of God, they believe this verse. True men and women of God believe that God has better ways of getting us where we need to be, when we need to be there, how we need to get there than we could ever dream up or plan for ourselves. And therefore, true men and women of God have no problem waiting on the Lord, even if it's months, even if it's years, because they know, don't you miss this, that not only is God's plan for their life perfect, but also God's timing for their life is perfect. Just like it was for Abraham and Sarah and Moses and David and Daniel and Ruth and Naomi and Mary and Martha and Lazarus, it will be for you and me. Now, just before we close, there's one last part of this truth.

It's a colossal piece of this truth that we need to make sure we don't miss. And that is, listen, when God made all these people in the Bible wait on him, folks, it wasn't because he'd forgotten about them. And it wasn't because he didn't care about them. To the contrary, it was because he was putting everything in place so he could do for them, Ephesians 3.20, exceedingly, abundantly beyond what they could ask or even imagine.

It was because he wanted to put everything in place so he could do for them, Jeremiah 33.3, great and mighty things that they knew not. And by the same token, my friends, if God is asking you as a follower of Jesus here today to wait right now on him for something, for a car, for a house, for a husband, for a wife, for a job, for a deal to come through, for a child to come to Christ, for whatever it is, it doesn't matter. He's asking you to wait. I want you to remember he has not forgotten about you. Even if you've been waiting a long time, he is not insensitive to your needs. Even if you've been waiting a long time, he is making you wait for the very same reason he made all these other people wait, namely so he can get every detail in perfect alignment to give you his deepest and his richest blessing. So don't mess it up. Don't mess it up by jumping in in the energy of the flesh and trying to tinker with it yourself.

You say, what does that mean? Well, friends, look here, so often what God does is he gets us ready for something great that he's got planned. You sense it in your spirit. You know, you know what he's going to do. You can feel it.

And then he says, okay, now I got you ready. Just stand still. Stay put. Don't do anything because I got to go off over here and I got a bunch of other things coming up and get all the clickers in a row. And when I do, I'll bring it all over and match it up with you.

And man, I'm telling you exceedingly abundantly beyond what you could ask or imagine. So just sit tight. I'll be back. Just like when Moses went up Mount Sinai, what did he tell the Israelites? Sit tight. I'll be back. But they didn't sit tight, did they?

No. And we don't either so often. We get impatient in the flesh. And by the time God comes back with everything ready to go, we built the golden calf in the energy of our own flesh. And we've compromised the blessing that he wants to give us.

Folks, don't do that. If God tells you to sit tight, he knows where you and I are. He hasn't forgotten where we are.

He's coming back. It may be a long time, but that's not your call. That's not my call. And the people who enjoy the richest blessing of God are the ones who are willing to sit tight and wait if he says to wait as long as it takes. Look what God did for Abraham and Sarah and Ruth and Naomi and Daniel and David and Mary and Martha. Look what he did for them because they were willing to wait.

You say, well, Lon, that's wonderful. But here's my last question. How do I know when God wants me to wait? And how do I know when God wants me to act? Because sometimes God wants me to act, right?

Absolutely. So how do I know the difference? Very simple, folks. You get on your knees, you seek the face of Christ, and you ask him. You ask him, Lord, do I wait? Do I act? I've been waiting a long time. Is it time for me to act?

You want me to wait some more? He'll tell you. He'll tell you. You say, well, I'm not really sure my relationship with Jesus is quite that intimate that he will. Well, whose fault is that?

Not his. Jesus said, you'll find me when you seek me with all of your heart. If you haven't been doing that, that's not his problem. But you can start now. You get on your face and ask him, Lord, do you want me to wait or do you want me to act?

He'll let you know. But I will say to you one piece of advice. If in doubt, wait. If in doubt, I never, ever messed anything up the Lord wanted to do for me by waiting a little longer.

But I sure have messed some stuff up by acting too soon. Just wait. Now, let me say in closing, waiting on the Lord I think is the most difficult spiritual discipline of them all. I can read my Bible. That's easy. I can have my quiet time. That's easy. I can pray. That's easy. I can memorize scripture. That's easy. I can even fast. It's not so easy for me. I never forget a meal, you understand what I'm saying?

If I missed it, I missed it, but I didn't forget it went by. But I can do that. But waiting on the Lord is tough, tough, tough. Because it goes against everything in our flesh.

There's not a part of our flesh that this comes natural to. We are impatient, we are impertinent, and we are self-sufficient. And that's what we've got to fight when we're waiting on the Lord. So if the Lord's asking you to wait on something, I don't care what it is. It takes the Holy Spirit giving us the power and the discipline to just simply say, Okay, Lord, self-control, spiritual self-control, I'm just waiting. But I promise you this, if you wait when the Lord tells you to wait, when He comes back with everything lined up, you are going to be so glad you waited.

And then you didn't go out there in the energy of the flesh and build the golden calf, trust me. That's why David said, wait on the Lord. Be strong, take courage, and wait patiently on the Lord.

Why? Because Isaiah 49, those who wait on me shall never be put to shame. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about something I certainly needed to hear. Brenda and I have some areas in our life where we are and have been for months and even years asking you to do certain things and you've just said, no, you wait. It's hard, so hard not to get impatient and not to act in the energy of the flesh. But Lord, I thank you for reminding me today and I hope you've reminded all of us today that the richest blessings of God are bestowed upon those who are willing to wait patiently when you tell us to.

And so Lord, whether it's two months or whether it's 25 years, it doesn't matter. Give us that discipline by the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. And I pray for many people here today who are also being told by you to wait for a husband, for a wife, for a house, for a job, for a child to come to Christ, whatever. Give us that discipline to wait by the power of the Spirit.

And the wisdom to do it. So encourage our hearts today, Lord, because waiting is hard. Remind us it'll be worth it.

And help us cling to you knowing that you haven't forgotten about us, but that you'll be back. And we can live for that. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And what do God's people say? Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-23 18:36:43 / 2023-04-23 18:47:37 / 11

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