We don’t like to wait. We want what’s coming to us now.
Financial people are telling us that Americans are buying fewer Certificates of Deposit at banks, preferring rather to have low-interest-bearing checking accounts so their money is always available. We don’t like to wait ten years. (One wonders if U.S. Savings Bonds are selling. I never hear of them any more.)
This weekend in Jackson, Kentucky, a man was upset with his wife because she had cooked his eggs wrong. So, he got his shotgun and shot and killed her, then turned the gun on her daughter (his step-daughter), and killed three more neighbors before ending his own life. Someone said the eggs were cold and that is what set him off.
Aside from the ridiculousness of that happening as a result of cold eggs, I want to raise the obvious question here: Where is the justice in this?
A man takes five lives and pays for it by ending his own life. Is that fair? Not in any book I’ve ever seen. So, where is the justice?
There are only two possible answers that I can see: either there is no justice in the universe or there must be an accounting after death.
It’s the latter choice that Bible-believers hold to, and with great determination and fortitude. Those who know and believe God’s revelation through His Word believe strongly that after this life ends will come a time of standing before the Lord when judgements will be handed out for all eternity–some for eternal reward, some eternal damnation.
Otherwise there is no justice in the universe.
That the ungodly will face a judgment in eternity is the position found in Psalm 73. So it’s not a new revelation, but has been a part of our faith’s framework from the beginning.
The story of Psalm 73 has been dealt with recently in this website, so I’ll simply make a passing reference to it.
The Psalmist was close to deciding that living for God was pointless. Watching his ungodly neighbors, he was struck by how they seem to live the good life: they were healthy and lived into old age, they drove the best cars and ate the finest food, took the most exotic vacations, and yet never bothered to thank God. Instead, they scoffed at spiritual things, bragged about their unbelief, and dared God to interfere.
“I was close to sharing my doubts with people around me,” the writer of Psalm 73 confesses. But something happened to change his mind.
He went to church.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God.”
And something happened there.
“And then I understood their end.”
He saw their final destination, somewhere beyond their earthly death.
So, what did he see?
Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction…. They are utterly consumed with terrors, as a dream when one awakes. (Ps.73:18-19)
Don’t envy the wicked. Do not envy the dictator who rules his people with a heavy hand and puts to death anyone crossing him. His day is coming. Even if he lives into old age and dies a peaceful death with all the trappings of royalty about him, he is in big trouble.
Do not envy the neighbor who has no use for God and parties like there is no tomorrow without regard to marriage vows and morality and decency. Do not envy the magazine publisher who has filled a long life with unending sexual escapades and brags about his immorality.
It’s not over just because the coroner pulls the sheet over one’s face and they wheel him off to the morgue.
In fact, it’s just begun.
If the Bible can be trusted to mean what it says, the unrighteous who flout God’s laws and who die peaceful deaths are about to receive the shock of their (after)life!
A friend with whom I was discussing the lessons of the Book of Job raised a related question.
What am I to tell the person who comes to me with this kind of story? She has served God long and well, and yet everything in her life seems to have gone wrong. She has known great sickness and shocking betrayal from those she trusted most. She prays continually for the Lord to turn her situation around. What can I say to her?
I said, “Tell her God is faithful, but He doesn’t settle all His accounts by the end of the month.”
That was not meant to sound flippant. It’s the truth.
In fact, no one who takes seriously the Living God and obedience to Him as our main business can do so without the matter of waiting figuring largely into the equation.
“Wait upon the Lord.”
It’s all through the Word, as I’m sure you are aware. (Psalm 40:1-3 and Isaiah 40:31 are some of the best-known references.)
Two elements of “waiting upon the Lord” come into play here:
–The time factor.
But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.(II Peter 3:8)
We have no choice but to think of our God as above the time constraints that we live by every day. Just as an astronaut in space would dismiss a mile or kilometer as almost meaningless, so God in eternity seems to give scant attention to our span of a day or week.
He operates on a different calendar from us. And that is going to require that we summon all our faith and trust.
–The trust factor.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.(Proverbs 3:5-6)
I think of a command-and-promise from our Lord Jesus in Luke 14. In the middle of a teaching concerning hospitality toward the least among us. Jesus said,
When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.(Lk. 14:13-14)
Imagine someone urging you to do some sacrificial and difficult act today and promising that you will be repaid at some distant time in the future. That’s precisely what the Lord was doing.
Perhaps “the resurrection of the just” is not that far away. Perhaps there is only a nanosecond, seemingly, between the moment we breathe our last in this life and we stand before the Lord at Judgment.
It’s a matter of trust. Either we believe the Lord Jesus Christ or we do not. Either we trust Him to keep His promises or we don’t.
Can you wait that long?
To be sure, religious charlatans on every side are promising their gullible followers untold blessings awaiting them just after the resurrection. Some are said to be gods, ruling over planets, while some will have more sexual pleasures than our famous magazine publisher ever dreamed of.
We can wish people would ask hard questions of such religious con-men, such as: “Where is your evidence? And how can we know it’s true?”
The Lord Jesus made grandiose claims, we freely admit, and then backed them up by His sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection from the dead. He has the credentials to make these promises.
You’ll get yours. Just you wait.
Waiting, biblically, is not a matter of sitting around doing nothing. Instead, it refers to persevering, continuing to climb, to work, to obey, all while going forward in faith with the expectation of the answers and fullness of revelation to come in due time.
I love the opening of the 40th Psalm…
I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth–Praise to our God.
He was waiting, but he was crying and praying.
Be faithful, friend.
It’s all going to come out well in the end for those who serve well now.