Waiting on the Sabbath
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9
This afternoon my daughter and I had our work cut out for us as we shucked four very large boxes of sweet corn. After we finished our shucking, we had quite a few overflowing containers filled with stripped ears which needed to then be carried to where I could finish processing them. I knew after picking up the first container they were difficult to carry and so I told my daughter that she needed to sit out this part and wait for me to carry all of the containers and then we could continue the rest of the project together.
But, just as I had rounded the corner on my second trip I heard a loud crash and then a scream. In my absence, she had decided not to wait for me to finish my part of the job, and in her not wanting to wait she actually added to the length of her waiting (with added pain I had not factored into my request) and made the job of finishing the project all that more lengthened.
This morning as I had been reading the bible and keeping a keen eye and ear poised for what God wanted me to see as I continued with my series of sabbath experiments, I was drawn to the passage from Isaiah 25 above. I decided to look up the word “waited” within it, not only because it is repeated in the verse, but also because as I was thinking about sabbath rest, the word “waited” just seemed appropriate to add to my stack of evidence for my experiment. I was not disappointed.
The word waited in Isaiah 25:9 is the Hebrew word “qāwāh” in its perfect form. “Qāwāh” translated means to be bound together with something while you are putting your trust in that thing. And of course in in the framework of this verse, plus being in its perfect form, this word means to be perfected wrapped up in the trust of God (held together in fact by Him) as He is saving you, helping you, and delivering you from all of the things you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Interestingly enough this word is also used in Psalm 37:9. Hear what that verse has to say about this concept of waiting:
“...those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Psalm 37:9
And then compare that verse to the verse from Matthew 5:5
The same thing is promised to those who wait as to those who are meek, “...they shall inherit the earth”. So, what really is meekness then? Meekness can be defined as “humbly patient”, and for the person this word describes, it does not so much describe what the person does, but more so what the person does not do. To be meek means to wait and to wait when you are told without trying to circumvent the instructions you were given. The opposite behavior than that of my daughter today who decided to act contrary to my request that she wait.
I shared with you the example my daughter illustrated so clearly for me today regarding these things I was mediating on, not to embarrass her, but rather to point out our human tendency to do the same thing as children of God to our heavenly Father when He asks us to wait – as in the sabbath command to rest and not work on these special days He has set apart for us. Sometimes, the waiting just gets to be too much for us and we decide in the moment of conflict over sitting still yet still thinking about all the work that lays ahead of us, that we have waited long enough and we just need to step out and help God a little bit so the waiting process can be quickened by our activity. But, that type of thinking backfires, just in the same way it did my daughter, and then we are left bruised (or worse) by our efforts and two or more steps back in the process we had wanted to quicken and move forward.
At times God calls us to wait, and to be patient in our waiting. I love what my study bible said in reference to Psalm 40:1. It says that the translation of “waited” in this verse directly translates to “waiting I waited”. Don't you love that? Waiting mean not doing something to advance ahead, but waiting while you are waiting means not even making strides to move ahead – it means resting in the waiting process.
“I waited patiently for the Lord...” Psalm 40:1
Read then, what Isaiah 30:15 says:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
This is what the sabbath is really all about, resting so we can be strengthened - strengthened for our battles ahead. In our six days of work we get depleted, and this seventh day is set aside to recharge us and prepare us so we are strengthened for the next 6 days ahead. Coming back to God, allowing yourself to be completely wrapped up in His ability to save you from whatever you are battling or looking off into the horizon at, and then just waiting – humbly, quietly, and confidently – that is what the sabbath teaches us one week at a time.
It is when we choose to allow God to work His ways in these weekly practice sessions of rest that we come to trust in His provision to provide and do work for us while we wait in our waiting in our sabbath rest. These rest times wrap us up tighter and tighter in our trust of the Lord's ability to provide for us so that when those bigger tests of waiting on God come along we are prepared because we have been wrapped perfectly through those cords of experiences the Lord has given us that keep us that we can say without a doubt we are headed to victory as we allow the Lord to work and we patiently wait on His timing to call us into action and join in with Him in the activity ahead.