Waiting for Yahweh

We must allow room and time for God to be God.

We must allow room and time for God to be God.

Psalm 130:5-6 – I wait for Yahweh; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning — more than watchmen for the morning.

This idea of waiting for Yahweh is all throughout the Bible, but most pronouncedly in the psalms.

Psalm 25:3-5 – No one who waits for you will be disgraced; those who act treacherously without cause will be disgraced. Make your ways known to me, Yahweh; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; I wait for you all day long.

Psalm 27:14 – Wait for Yahweh; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for Yahweh.

Psalm 37:7-9 – Be silent before Yahweh and wait expectantly for him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the person who carries out evil plans. Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated ​– ​it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in Yahweh will inherit the land.

Without quoting all of the passages here, the general meaning of this phrase as it is used throughout the psalms carries the concept of patience, gathering one’s wits about them, eagerly anticipating God to act in a situation. It conveys a purposeful restraint of one’s own reflexive emotion against the acts of the wicked, and instead allowing God’s justice to be played out.

It is so easy for us to be caught up in the emotion of the moment that many times we forget to wait for God to work things out in his timing. We get impatient or emotionally engaged and say or do things that we will regret later, because upon reflection, it wasn’t how God would have wanted us to act at that time.

To illustrate this, look at some of the characteristics that should mark this time of expectant waiting:

  • Be strong
  • Let your heart be courageous
  • Refrain from anger
  • Give up your rage
  • Do not be agitated

All of these demonstrate holding back from pursuing your own personal vengeance against those who may be working at odds with you, or against the plans of God.

Instead, the characteristics associated with waiting have to do with unceasing vigilance, watching for and expecting God to work in a way that brings justice to the situation:

  • I put my hope in your Word
  • Make your ways known to me
  • Teach me your paths
  • Guide me in your truth and teach me
  • Be silent before Yahweh
  • Wait expectantly for him

These are the things that should mark our times of waiting. Instead of reacting foolishly out of anger or impatience, we should collect our thoughts by focusing on God’s Word, his plans and purpose. We should remain silent when we want to speak out in frustration, knowing that God will be vindicated, and we will be rescued from the situation when all things are accomplished. But our waiting should be exemplified by vigilant expectancy, “more than a watchman waits for the morning.”

Waiting on Yahweh is a discipline that should mark all of his children who are truly seeking for his kingdom and his glory in this world, and not their own.

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Forgiveness and doing good to others consumes the evil in the world

Believers hold the key to overcome bitterness in relationships with others.

Romans 12:17-21 – Give back to no one evil for evil; providing right things before all men. If possible — so far as in you — with all men being in peace; not avenging yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it has been written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will recompense again, says the Lord.’ If, then, your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink; for this doing, coals of fire you shall heap upon his head; Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil.

Forgiveness is all about release and pardon. In order to “be at peace with all men,” an individual has to conscientiously let go of any ill will or hard feelings towards others. If we as believers are serious about our walk with God, we must work to find ways to overcome any bitterness that may exist in our relationships with others.

However, letting go is only half of the equation; within you there must be another aspect to overcoming evil that works to create this peace.

Paul’s view of this and his encouragement to the believers in Rome stems from the wisdom of the Proverbs and from the teachings of Yeshua. In order to overcome actions by others that can appear as evil or that may cause bitterness or harm, do good instead.

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, “so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

For a long time I struggled with the idea of “heaping burning coals” on someone’s head; it seems so contrary to the idea of actually doing good to them. It is as if I was being encouraged to do good as a way of somehow getting back at them, and that just seems to be the opposite of the intent of the teaching.

The idea is not that you will be putting coals on someone else; it really means that they will be so ashamed of their evil actions, they will feel as if that is the case. Have you ever been severely embarassed in public? Your face was likely flushed, and you could feel the warmth as the blood rushed to your head. This is what the “heaping coals” implies. When someone does something bad to you, and you instead turn around and do something good for them, they will feel ashamed and embarrassed, and are likely to feel truly sorry for their wrongs.

Albert Barnes writes:

Coals of fire are doubtless emblematical of “pain.” But the idea here is not that in so doing we shall call down divine vengeance on the man; but the apostle is speaking of the natural effect or result of showing him kindness. Burning coals heaped on a man’s head would be expressive of intense agony. So the apostle says that the “effect” of doing good to an enemy would be to produce pain. But the pain will result from shame, remorse of conscience, a conviction of the evil of his conduct, and an apprehension of divine displeasure that may lead to repentance. To do this, is not only perfectly right, but it is desirable. If a man can be brought to reflection and true repentance, it should be done.

That the ultimate vengeance belongs to God adds an additional layer to this admonition. This is a truly radical way of thinking about the believers role in the world: in the sense we are speaking about here, our doing good to others is God’s preferred measure of vengeance on wrongdoing. When we forgive others and instead do good, we are acting in a measure of divine judgment that can bring about true repentance. Ultimately, when your enemies are consumed in the fires of this type of judgment, all that remains are friends.

Barnes concludes:

If people would act on the principles of the gospel, the world would soon be at peace. No man would suffer himself many times to be overwhelmed in this way with coals of fire. It is not human nature, bad as it is; and if Christians would meet all unkindness with kindness, all malice with benevolence, and all wrong with right, peace would soon pervade the community, and even opposition to the gospel might soon die away.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.