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Waiting for the Messiah

Waiting for the Messiah

A group of travelers were waiting in line to board their airplane. The time of departure came and passed. After a while, the travelers became impatient. Finally an angry passenger pushed his way to the front of the line, slammed his ticket down and said, “I must be on this flight now and I must be in first class”. The flight attendant, trying to be nice said, “Sir, we will get to you as soon as possible, but you must wait in line like everyone else”. He quickly said, “Ma’am, do you have any idea who I am?” Without hesitation, she picked up her intercom microphone and said, “We have a passenger here at gate 17 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to gate 17.”

Have you ever been forced to wait on something? Did you know that if you lived on St. Paul Island in Alaska and got the urge for pizza, it would take three days for the pizza to arrive? We don’t like waiting, but oftentimes God makes us wait. For thousands of years, people waited for the Messiah. For two thousand years, His believers have been waiting for His return.

For some people, all this talk of waiting for Jesus is foolishness. They scoff and say, “You have been deceived. You should stop expecting the Messiah to show up.” Interestingly, they want people to give up waiting on God, but they never offer anything in His place except despair.

Some people become apathetic as the wait goes on. They don’t care anymore. Some lose faith. Some become bitter, angry, and hostile toward God because He didn’t answer their prayer immediately in the manner they desired. Therefore, they become their own god.

2 Peter 3:3-15 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

There will always be those who believe it is futile to wait for God. But they deliberately forget that He has already come. He came to the Garden of Eden. He came to Noah. He came to Mount Sinai. He came in the person of Jesus! He is here in the person of the Holy Spirit. And, He will come again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In fact, God comes to us many times throughout our lives if our hearts are receptive and our eyes are open.

But, some people are blinded by doubt and despair. They grow weary of waiting for God and live for themselves. During the Christmas holiday, they think a little bit about God coming as a baby. But, to them believing in a real Savior coming into the world is like a four-year-old filling out a list of things they want from Santa. It’s a myth. However, they celebrate anyway; after all, ‘tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry!

Nevertheless, Jesus came and He said He is coming again. Do we believe Him? If so, how do we wait for the Messiah? What should our attitude be during this advent of Christ?

The first way that we wait for the Messiah is: patiently. The hardest part of waiting is waiting. Waiting involves time, and we don’t know when our waiting will be over. If we could wait a minute or two, it would be one thing, but it often involves a great deal of time.

I was in the store the other day and the person in front of me was in a hurry, but her receipt was slow coming out of the cash register. She started making motions with her hand trying to speed up the printing of her receipt. As I watched her, I was amused until I realized how many times I have done the very same thing. I become impatient waiting for the printer to print, the coffee to brew, and the traffic light to change. We live in a culture of convenience and instant gratification. People in some places of the world may wait in line for hours for a loaf of bread, but we are irritated if the line at McDonald’s isn’t moving fast enough.

Acts 1:3-5, 14 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men 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."  (So they went to Jerusalem and we read this), 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 

Before He ascended, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit. What did they do as they waited? They prayed. This should be an encouragement to all of us who are waiting. Some of us are waiting for a loved one to come to Jesus – keep praying. Some of us are suffering from an illness in which there seems no reprieve – keep praying.

When we pray, while waiting, we are placing the matter in God’s hands. Not that we expect Him to fulfill our every wish, but we trust God to work all things together for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In the meantime, He wants us to talk to Him and cast all our cares upon Him.

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

God is love. Love is patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a character that we have when God is in us. But, often we revert to the flesh and are irritated if something doesn’t happen immediately. Then we lose hope. That is unfortunate, for hope is essential to waiting.

Romans 8:22-25 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about the Messiah for whom we are waiting. Waiting is not a static state, it is a time when God is working behind the scenes, and the primary focus of His work is on us. So while they were waiting, the apostles not only prayed, they also studied.

Acts 1:15-17, 20 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus--he was one of our number and shared in this ministry." For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms…” 20 'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, " 'May another take his place of leadership.'

I can only imagine what the Apostles may have felt toward Judas Iscariot. Probably, they didn’t understand why this man did what He did. That is a question that many still ask today. But Peter began sharing the Old Testament Scriptures which foretold the betrayal of Judas. Their time of study allowed them to better understand that, while God did not cause Judas to sin, He foresaw its place in His plan of redemption. Peter used the most compelling proof—Scripture—to reassure the believers that Judas’ betrayal and the choice of his replacement were both in God’s purpose.

Sometimes we seem to have many more questions than answers in life. We pray and pray for an answer and seem to never find it. Many times the answers to our questions are obviously held within the Scriptures. We don’t find the answers because we don’t look at the instructions.

Many fathers will be putting a bicycle together this Christmas. Dad will begin putting pieces together that seem to fit, and after about an hour he will realize he was not doing it right. Mom, who had the instructions, kept trying to tell him what he was doing wrong, but he didn’t listen. Then he has to stay up late to disassemble the bike and put it back together properly.

Life is like that many times. We bypass reading the instructions of God’s Word and then wonder why we get ourselves into situations that require us to repent and do it right. If you are waiting on God for an answer, the very best advice is to consult His instructions. By not doing so, many Christians, churches, and even whole denominations have gotten themselves into heresy. The fault is ours, for we have a responsibility to study and obey God’s Word.

2 Timothy 2:14-16 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

The study of God’s Word helps us to more fully understand His character – and when we do, we will better understand why He does, what He does, the way He does – and may even help us realize why we are being made to ‘wait’, if indeed we are waiting.

It is possible to fail in our waiting and get ahead of God. We wait and nothing seems to happen, so we panic and start to work things out on our own. Waiting is a discipline, and timing is everything.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, there were those who grew tired of waiting for the Messiah to come, and they decided to take matters into their own hands. This was the group known as the Zealots. They had heard the promise that God was coming to deliver Israel, but they grew impatient. Occasionally, a flamboyant leader would arise, and he would gain a small following. They would form a terrorist group until they were crushed by the Roman army. There was even a Zealot among Jesus’ disciples named Simon. Perhaps he had hopes that Jesus was going to be a political messiah whose purpose would be to establish an independent kingdom of Israel. But this was far from being a part of God’s plan. Therefore, we must be careful. What appears to be a great opportunity to bring about “God’s will”, can be the wrong time, purpose, and method. We can get ahead of God. To prevent that, we have to wait patiently, pray, and study His Word.

The second way in which we are to wait is: expectantly. God is busy bringing about His full plan for the world and for us. In His perfect timing, He will birth that plan. I suppose that an expectant mother sometimes thinks, “Is this baby ever going to come?” especially if she is past her due date. But all you have to do is look at her and you know that it is impossible for the baby not to come.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Before it was time, the birth of Christ would have been premature, but when the time came, nothing could hold Him back. When it is time for Christ to return, nothing will be able to hold Him back. It could be today! Are you expecting Him?

Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, there was a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally, the other applicants perked up, wondering what he was doing. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They expected the young man, who went into the office, would be reprimanded for his presumption and disqualified for the job.

Within a few minutes, the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, ‘Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man.’ The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, ‘Wait a minute! I don’t understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. We were told to wait until summoned. This is not right!’ The employer responded, ‘All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the message in Morse code: “If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.” None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his.’”

The young man got the job because he was not just waiting — all of the other men were waiting — but he was waiting expectantly. We are all waiting. But, it is what we do while we are waiting that is important. The young man in that office was listening. And because he was, he was rewarded. Waiting does not mean just sitting down and doing nothing.

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

You have to be watching and looking for God to fulfill His promise. You have to believe He is going to do it. It is possible to get ahead of God when we try to work things out ourselves, but it is also possible that we could miss what He is doing because we are just waiting without expecting God to speak to us or work through circumstances. Therefore, listen for the Holy Spirit to tell you what to do while you wait.

The final way in which we are to wait for God is: faithfully. To be faithful means to be full of faith. It is active faith, not passive. It is a faith that delights in doing the Master’s will. It is love that results in action. It is a faith that keeps doing the right thing even when the waiting becomes long.

Luke 12:42-48 The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Waiting in faithful obedience is essential in our walk with God. The race we are in calls for endurance not speed. It’s not how you begin the race, but how you finish that counts.

In summary, God oftentimes makes us wait on Him. Some of you might say, “Well, I have made no recent petition to God, I am not waiting on Him, so how does this apply to me?”

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you should know that He is not coming as a baby the next time He comes. He is coming as King of Kings to conquer Satan and all who are not born again of the Holy Spirit. The greatest thing all born again believers are waiting on is Jesus’ return. And it has been this way since Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Acts 1:9-11 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

And while we all wait for this most glorious event, we should take a lesson from the Apostles. We need to spend time with God in prayer. We need to study His Word, our life’s instruction manual (B.I.B.L.E). We need to expect God to speak to us by the Holy Spirit and we need to obey Him, continuing the work that He has called us to do now, while we wait.

Waiting for God doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing… it means daily dying to self and being filled with the Holy Spirit so we have power to do what we can, while we can, as best we can…while always being careful to not run ahead of God.

Are you waiting patiently for the Messiah? Jesus wants to come to you today. Listen and you can hear Him calling. Perhaps He is calling you to repent of some sin. Perhaps He is calling you to believe in Him and His work on the Cross—to repent and give your life to Him in water baptism. Will you respond to His call? Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but today He wants to be born in you by the Holy Spirit. Then you will be eagerly waiting for His return—to meet Him face to face. Perhaps He will come today!