Posts tagged God's timing
For some reason, it seems to be human nature to dislike warnings – to bristle at the notion of being told bad news in advance. In the Bible, God goes to great lengths to warn people about the consequences of their actions. He sends prophets to speak words and, in some cases, to demonstrate what will happen. But in most cases, the message falls on deaf ears. In some cases, the message is rejected with outright contempt.
And so, this God who tries so hard to warn his people gets chided for doing so. For Ezekiel, this must have been exasperating. He was laying out for the people of Israel the total destruction that God had for them. No doubt, he thought, if the people would just turn back to God, they could avoid destruction. But the people would not turn back. Not only that, but they dismissed Ezekiel’s prophecies as being in the distant future. Interestingly, they didn’t discount him entirely, they just didn’t think the “bad stuff” would happen in their lifetime, so they didn’t really care.
So God, for his part, tells them, “You know what. No more warnings, no more delays.”
Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” (Ezekiel 12:28)
If you were an Israelite in Ezekiel’s time, that was bad news. Even for us today, if God decided not to delay his punishment, that would be bad news. I’ve heard of individuals and groups who are trying to “hasten” the second coming of Christ. You see, they want all the “good stuff” of the second coming to happen in their lifetime and somehow believe that they can actually affect God’s timeline by “making” things happen – things that are prophesied in the Bible.
But even if they could do so, what they are really seeking to do is to hasten God’s final judgement on the world. Instead of working their fingers to the bone to tell people of the good news of Jesus, instead of trying to welcome as many people into the grace and love of God as possible, they are praying for those people’s destruction. Sure, that may not be their motive, but, if they got their way (and God hastened his return) the result would be the destruction of those people.
The bottom line is that we are always in error when we question God’s timing. Sometimes, we think he moves to fast. Other times, we think he moves too slow. We’re wrong. He’s right. And his timing is perfect, even when our feeble minds think otherwise.
Saul just couldn’t seem to catch a break. You get the sense that he was truly trying to do what is right, but somehow, he always managed to mess it up. First, he offered a sacrifice that he wasn’t supposed to offer. The reason? The guy who was supposed to offer it (Samuel) was late. It seems that God doesn’t value punctuality over obedience!
Then, toward the end of today’s reading, Saul tried to do the right thing again by vowing to kill his son Jonathan for breaking the oath made by the army. Again, Saul was misguided. In this case, not only was Jonathan not aware of the oath, but he was actually out destroying a bunch of Philistines when the oath was made. And so, the other men came to Jonathan’s rescue and convinced Saul not to kill him.
The moral of the story here seems to be that God’s timing, not our’s, is of critical importance (Saul wasn’t operating on God’s time, but Jonathan was) and that God’s instructions, not human’s, is of critical importance (Jonathan was following God’s orders, not Saul’s). You get the sense that God wanted to make it abundantly clear to Saul that he was not the “rightful” king. Saul never seems to feel comfortable in his own skin.
In fact, Saul is somewhat of a placeholder. God knows that he has a great man to be king over all of Israel and Saul is simply holding the spot while this boy David grows up. It kind of feels like Saul knew this even early in his stint as king. This was not the role he was made for and yet, he had been called and anointed by God to fill it.
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. There have been times in my life and ministry where I knew I wasn’t in my “forever” place, but that I was equally as sure that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. It’s a weird feeling – kind of like Jr. High – when you aren’t really sure what the future holds, but you know (or at least hope) this isn’t it.
If you’re in that place right now, let me encourage you to hang in there. God doesn’t make mistakes, but sometimes he places you in a position for purposes way beyond your ability to understand. If that’s where he wants you, stay there until he says “go.”