Genesis 16-18, Psalm 5
When we read stories of those in Scripture who erred due to either a lack of patience or not fully trusting God, rather than be critical, we should ask ourselves how we would fare in a similar situation. In 2014, when Pope Francis was asked about his views supporting the Big Bang theory and evolution, he stated that “God is not a magician with a magic wand.” I asked one of my friends why she continues to pray to the saints and she responded by saying, “God can use all the help He can get”. When God doesn’t answer no or yes to a prayer, but delays, it’s not due to procrastination or preoccupation on His part, but preparation to help develop faith. Immediate gratification does not develop or require faith. The Bible is full of stories of those who couldn’t wait. We read in 1 Samuel 13 that King Saul was told to wait seven days until Samuel arrived to perform a sacrifice before they went into battle (v.8). Unwilling to wait any longer he offered the sacrifice himself. As a result, Samuel tells Saul in 13:13-14, “…For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought a man after His own heart,…”. Saul lost his kingdom because he couldn’t wait and trust God for 7 days.
Realize Abram was called to leave his homeland and go to the promised land at around the age of 50. He delayed for 25 years, until the age of 75 when God established a covenant with Abram including the promise of an heir. In fairness, when we come to this section God has delayed 11 years in providing a child and it will be another 13 before it actually is fulfilled, with Abraham at 99 and Sarah at 89. We read in Genesis 16:1-2, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” Due to circumstances between Sarai and the pregnant, Hagar, Hagar flees. The Angel of the Lord meets her and says in Genesis 16:11-12, “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him…”. Whenever we try to help out God or force His hand beware of the consequences. This move on the part of Abram and Sarai gave rise to the whole Middle East crisis that is still spinning out of control. Before Abram followed God, he followed the moon God (the local deity) in Ur of the Chaldees. This moon God also goes by the name of Allah. So, Ishmael the father of the Arabs, serving their god, Allah, is set against Isaac, born 13 years later to Abraham and Sarah who will be one of the founding fathers of the Israelites. That is why anyone who says we all worship the same God is incorrect.
So, even though Abraham erred, he did wait 25 years before the promise was fulfilled. Consider the apostle Paul, he waited 14 years from his encounter and calling on the Damascus road in Acts 9 by Jesus until he received his commission to reach out to the Gentiles in Acts 13:2-3. Consider Daniel in Daniel 10:1-3, he remained in constant prayer for 3 weeks without getting frustrated and quitting before receiving an answer. When we consider these examples, it should humble all of us who often struggle with our patience in the time frame of hours. God is willing to do a work in each of us. Are we willing to patiently wait on the Holy Spirit?. Are we willing to trust on the promises of God outlined in His Word, or do we feel we need to help Him out a little. God’s ways are often not our ways because His ways are much better than our ways.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: