Hebrews 11:39-40 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
I have found myself quoting this passage a great deal recently. We get all caught up in our temporal time frame and want things to happen on our schedule, but God is outside of time and He has a better idea. Peter famously referenced that when he wrote, “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.” (2 Peter 3:8-9) It is fascinating that an uneducated fisherman like Peter would have such a revelation of the relativistic nature of time. Even major physicists have trouble with that one! However, it is something we need to accept as we trust God to be true to His word. When a Biblical promise seems to have failed, that’s only because we are applying the wrong time frame. Right now we are in the middle of the Advent season, celebrating the birth of Christ. That had been prophesied for many centuries prior, but only in the fullness of time did it happen. Paul refers to that both in Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10. God waited until Greek was established as a common language over a very wide area and Rome had such overwhelming power that there was minimal unrest – called the Pax Romanum – so that the Gospel would be able to be communicated widely and easily. He got things lined up, so to speak, to a degree that we can only begin to comprehend, even studying it 2000 years later. What we need to trust and believe is that God is just as much aware, and in control, of all the details right now, even as things look like absolute chaos from our viewpoint. On a personal scale, sometimes it hits us just as it did the people mentioned here in Hebrews. It may look like God’s promises aren’t being fulfilled and we are total failures. However from God’s perspective, everything is on schedule. That doesn’t mean that day-to-day faithfulness is unimportant, far from it. However, it does mean that if we are being faithful, we can totally leave the results up to God.
This is intensely personal to me as a 2nd generation missionary in Japan, one of the hardest of fields. My parents labored under sometimes very difficult circumstances, but saw very sparse fruit. I am about to beat them in terms of total longevity, but I too have little I can point to. That doesn’t mean either that we missed our calling or that God is unfaithful. All it means is that God’s schedule isn’t as we would have liked it to be. I am not to give up! It is entirely possible that God has lined things up so this next year will see a massive outpouring of His Spirit on this nation and on the world, but I am not to try to dictate that or insist on it. My job is to love God, love my neighbor, and be consistently faithful in my obedience, whatever is going on.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me love, worship, and obey You for who and what You are, not for how You meet my desires and expectations. Thank You for speaking this to me today, when I already knew You wanted me to speak on Your promises this next Sunday. Help me get those notes down as You desire so that Your Word may have its full work in my hearers. Thank You that I go back to the ENT doctor today for the check on my vocal cords, and that they seem so much better. Help me accept Your schedule there as well, being anxious for nothing, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!