Habakkuk 2:1 NIrV
‘I will go up to the lookout tower. I’ll station myself on the city wall. I’ll wait to see how the LORD will reply to me. Then I’ll try to figure out how to answer him.’
Patiently Waiting and watching
- How good are you at watching and waiting for someone to arrive? Or for a meeting to commence?
- What is your reaction, when the date and time have been set, and an important person arrives late or perhaps does not pitch up at all?Of recent years, South Africans have become well used to waiting, albeit often not patiently, for politicians to arrive to address us on television.
We’ve all had the experience of making a phone call only to have a recorded voice tell you, “Please be patient. Your call will be answered.” There is not much you can do, apart from drumming your fingers on the desk, doodling on your desk pad, listening to or humming along with the music, while you wait for a consultant to become available. Sometimes they even add insult to injury as the robotic voice assures us, “You call is important to us!”
In 1952 Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys brought out the hit song ‘Slow Poke’. The lyrics describe someone waiting for their date, who failed to arrive at the appointed time. The date seems to have had no concept of the passing of time, or the extreme concern engendered in the waiting party. The hours go by and still there is no appearance of the date. Eventually the waiting person decides that the only thing to do is become a slow poke too.
- Can you think of a specific occasion when God appeared to have put you ‘on hold’? What were the circumstances?
We may often feel that God has put us ‘on hold’.
- What do you suggest we do when this happens?
- Take another look at our text for this week. What did Habakkuk do when God appeared to put him ‘on hold’?
Having expressed his concerns, Habakkuk didn’t just hang up. He placed himself in a position to receive God’s answer (Habakkuk 2:1).
Watchtowers and watchmen
As I pointed out in our last session, in Bible times, stone watchtowers were built on city walls so that the watchmen could see enemies or messengers approaching while they were still quite a distance away.
Jesus referred to a watchtower in one of the parables: “Listen to another parable,” Jesus said. “There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip.” (Matthew 21:33 GNB)
In this case the watchtower was built so that the tenant farmers could appoint a watchman, to take up his position in the tower, to safeguard the grape harvest.
Watchmen and watchtowers were also words used by the prophets to show an attitude of expectation. (Isaiah 21:8; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17) “Then a guard said, “I have stood day and night on this watchtower, Lord.” (Isaiah 21:8 CEV)
Waiting for our ship to come in
I wonder if our problem as Christians is not that we often lack expectations. We pray about situations, health problems, the salvation of family or friends etc., but do we really expect God to answer our prayers? Are we waiting for His answer? What are we doing while we are waiting?
Waiting and watching for God’s answer does not mean that we should be idle. “Many people wait for their ‘ship to come in’ but forget that they must first dredge the harbour, build a lighthouse and a pier so the ship can find them and dock. If they don’t, ‘their’ ship will find another port.” (attributed to John Columbus)
Patient watching and waiting for the Lord’s answer
The prophet Micah declared, “I trust the LORD God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.” (Micah 7:7CEV)
After leaving school, I joined a bank. A few years later, in January 1959, I opened my life to Jesus. I soon became involved in Wayside Sunday School work. Gradually, over a period of time, I began to sense the Lord wanted me in full time ministry. I spoke to my pastor about this. He wisely advised me to keep serving the Lord as I was already doing, and that the Lord would make His will for my life abundantly clear. Over the next year, the Lord used a speaker at a Youth for Christ meeting, and my daily quiet time readings, to give me a clear call. And in 1965, I attended the Bible Institute of South Africa which was the first step towards a pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.
As Christians we have a major means of hearing from God—through His Word.
Often, we may come across a passage that we may have read numerous times before, but suddenly the words almost leap out of the page. You know that God put it there just for you.
Have you ever experienced this? I have, on many occasions.
In Psalm 5:3 David wrote, “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5;3 NIV)
So what have we learned today? I believe the above verse shows us that God doesn’t always leap to answer our prayers the moment we utter them. (If He did, we wouldn’t have to wait or watch, right?) You see, what seems urgent to us, may not in fact be at all urgent in the large scheme of life. It could be extremely important for there to be a delay. It could even be that God plans to bring other things into play before He answers.
So we need to learn the difficult lesson of waiting on Him and watching for His answer.
In closing, let’s have some fun. Join me and listen to the song I referred to at the beginning of today’s study by clicking on the link. And where I would never call God a slow-poke, perhaps there is some meaning in the words for us. If we really want to follow God’s plan for our lives, maybe we do need to learn how to watch and wait, and be prepared to move at His pace.
If there is any specific prayer I can pray for you, please leave it in a comment section below. Have a blessed week.
If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.