When it comes to waiting for God to act, we tend to see only the negative frustrations and impatience that creep in. But the God of justice has a perfect purpose that transcends simply answering our prayers. He desires to bless us beyond our expectations, and will wait until the very last minute if need be rather than diminish the blessing. Our response is what determines the time frame.
Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)
We all know the frustrations of waiting, especially when it seems God only acts at the 11th hour, 59th minute. Most of the time, there doesn’t seem to be any point. If He’s going to act anyway, it’s foolish to drag it out to the bitter end when the result will be same. If nothing else, we’ll escape the frustration and the other negative responses that go along with it. Delaying the inevitable doesn’t seem to gel with our notions of a loving God who desires to intervene and to bless us. Today’s verse highlights an interesting context of waiting, both from our side and His side. It’s pinned on the truth that He is a God of justice. This word immediately conjures up the law and if we misinterpret it, we could find ourselves on shaky ground. We must take hold of the truth that it’s justice, not judgement.
A God of justice is gracious and merciful.
Justice, where God is concerned, is a perfect balance between judgement and mercy and its empowered by grace. We cannot exclude judgement from the God of justice because mercy has no relevance without it. His justice, also, is founded on the just commandments and requirements of the law. Without this, there could be no justice. There has to be a scale or measure to judge against otherwise it’s arbitrary and impossible to enforce. The law, then, is integral to justice. Having said that, we need to look at this within the context of the cross by which God has already satisfied all requirements of the law in Christ. His grace enables Him to have mercy, because the demands of justice have already been met. Judgement has taken place, and mercy is now freely available. This perfect justice now governs how God deals with His people.
There is tremendous assurance in this truth because we know that His response will always be just. What this means is that He will not withhold anything as punishment, because Jesus has already been punished on our behalf so we can have mercy. Our assurance is that He will be gracious and merciful. He has already proven this beyond doubt by sending Christ to the cross on our behalf. We know that we are no longer in condemnation if we are in Jesus. The God of justice has Himself fulfilled every requirement of the law for us, so His justice is pure and perfect. But this does not mean that we don’t have to wait. Today’s verse tells us clearly that He waits, and so we must wait too. This isn’t ‘unjust’ or unfair. He has a particular reason for it, and the timing of His grace is His alone.
The God of justice waits.
Everything hinges on this particular truth, one which all of us have experienced. Our verse today tells us that He waits in order that He can be gracious to us. The Hebrew word ‘chakah’ means simply to wait, to be patient, or to hold back. It’s a different word to the one used in Isaiah 40:31 where it speaks of those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength. This word is ‘koh’ which is used in relation to rope. The message here is of binding ourselves to the Lord rather than simply waiting. Chakah, however, is wait in its simplest form. At face value, this makes little sense. Why wait if He desires to be gracious. The answer lies in the second phrase, which tells us that He will be exalted. The God of justice, who deserves all honour, glory, power, and praise, will wait until we exalt Him.
This isn’t simply mouthing praise. It’s a heartfelt, honouring of God for who and what He is. When we exalt Him, we lift Him up to His rightful place in our lives and we magnify Him above our situation and our own resources. This is the just response. As a God of justice, He lives by justice. Everything He does is tied to this intrinsic truth of His nature. If we desire to live by His perfect justice and the grace and mercy it offers, we must respond with justice and give what He deserves. The other truth here is that exalting God diminishes self. It brings us to the place where look to Him and not to ourselves, totally and completely. He doesn’t drag out the waiting ad nauseum. We do. If He only acts at the critical last moment, it’s because He had to wait for us.
Waiting for the God of justice.
The waiting, however, is reciprocal. While He simply waits patiently for us, we wait for Him – and usually a lot less patiently. The form of wait here is chanan, which implies contentedly being patient, waiting for Him to act. Ouch. How often do we truly manage to be contently patient? This implies a real and deep level of faith, especially when we’re in absolute crisis and the only way out has been cancelled. It also implies a vital knowledge of God, of who and what He is. We’re to take hold of the truth that He is a God of justice who has satisfied His own law with His own blood. No matter how difficult, we must hold onto the fact that He desires to be gracious and merciful to us. It requires absolute faith in the eternal faithfulness of God though the very waiting seems to deny this.
But we’ve already seen the way to achieve this. It’s by constantly exalting Him to His rightful place. Faith isn’t about who we are or our circumstances. It’s about the God of justice who is way bigger than our circumstances. The reality is that God acts when we’re finally all out of self, when we can no longer ‘make a plan’ and have thrown everything we have at the problem. As we turn our eyes from the problem and our own solutions, we turn them to Him. Lifting Him up releases His power and authority into the situation. This is the reality of contentedly being patient. We know that we know that He can act and will act, because His own justice has been satisfied so that He can be gracious and merciful. He went to the cross because He desires to extend His grace and mercy.
Blessed by the God of Justice.
At face value, it’s easy to assume the ‘blessed’ means receiving a response to our prayers. This is part of it, because the whole purpose of the waiting exercise is for God to intervene on our behalf. The Hebrew word for blessed here is ‘ashar’ which implies peace and happiness. Our real blessing is not that the God of justice has stepped in but a spiritual condition beyond price. This isn’t the peace and happiness of the world but that which comes from the sure and certain knowledge of God and His perfect justice. The reward of our waiting is that we receive the joy of the Lord which is our strength and the peace which passes all understanding. These are the outworking and building blocks of faith. With these comes the added blessing of knowing that the justice we receive is very different to the justice we deserve.
We exalt You in our lives, Lord, as the God of justice. Thank You for the cross which enables Your immeasurable grace and mercy. Help us to wait, not with the impatience and frustration of the natural man but with contentment and faith. Help us to live by faith which exalts You to Your rightful place, not just today but always. Above all, thank You that even the waiting has its rewards in Your wonderful blessings of peace and joy.