Sunday, August 8, 2010

Waiting in the Wings

Exodus 25:20-22
20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

“Waiting in the Wings”

While I was in high school so many years ago, I acted in one of the schools two annual productions. It was here I had my first real dealings with the theater and certain terms and terminology. One of these terms in particular, I want to talk about now. It is here we gain a phrase used throughout the entire world.

The ‘wings’ are the areas off to the sides of the stage that are hidden from the audience. There are great deals of things that transpire in the wings. It is in the wings that the stage hands wait of the next scene change. It is in the wings that the actors make costume changes for different scenes.

However, one of the most known uses for the term, waiting in the wings’ has to do with the understudy. The star of the play has an understudy. The understudy knows every line of the stars performance. The understudy knows all the cues. The understudy is ready to step in at a moment’s notice to stand in for the star if he or she is unable to perform for any reason. In a large production there are many understudies.

The understudy is waiting. He or she is waiting for that moment that they are needed. They stand, sometimes impatiently, in the wings. They know the part. They know the lines. They know the cues. They know the stage directions. They are prepared. As the star says their lines, you can see the understudy mouthing the same lines.

Today, this phrase encompasses a much wider arena than the area of the stage. It does, however, have the same connotation. Someone has worked, out of sight, just waiting for their opportunity to get into the spotlight. It may be a stage production. It might be a business meeting. It could be job opportunity. Whatever it may be, there is usually someone waiting in the wings to step in at a moment’s notice.

In the scripture, with which we started, it talks about the Mercy Seat which sat upon the Ark of the Covenant. These are vital pieces of the furniture of the Holy of Holies, a place within the Holy Place within the Tabernacle. It is interesting to note, that all the articles of furniture in the Tabernacle were given very specific measurements. We know the height, width and depth of nearly all of the pieces. There is one that is not specified. We know that the length of the Mercy Seat was two and a half cubits. We are told the breadth of the Mercy Seat is one and a half cubits. The height of the Mercy Seat is never divulged. This is because there is no end to the mercies of God toward His people.

We are told the there were to be cherubims on each end of the mercy seat that were to face each other with their wings extended toward each other. Their wings would cover the mercy seat. It was here, in the midst of these wings, that God said He would meet with man and commune with him.

Here we have this picture, of God, waiting in the wings, to commune with mankind, through the office of the priest. When man needed instruction, God was waiting in the wings. When man needed forgiveness, God was waiting in the wings.

I know that the mercies of God were extended continually over His people. They lived within the divine providence of God. He blessed them continually. He gave them rain, and great harvests. He made them a fertile people to multiply as He had commanded and replenish the earth. These blessings were ever with them as long as they were faithful. There was no need to come to the mercy seat to meet with God to obtain these. These were the ever present blessings which God gave to His people, simply because they were His people. There were times when the priest was commanded to come to the Holy of Holies. There were regular sacrifices. The Scripture tells us that the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies only once a year and then only with the blood of the sacrifice.

I was talking with God once when I asked Him about people that always seemed to struggle. It seemed that they served God but still did not get ahead.

(I am not a ‘prosperity’ preacher per say, but I do believe God provides for His own.) Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I am not a seed preacher. I do not preach Christ as a monetary investment. Do not send me your $100 or $1000 seed money thinking that by doing so God now owes you some monumental return on your investment.

1 Timothy 6:5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” The Scripture tells us those that teach godliness is a way to make gains are destitute of the truth.

John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” God is still looking for those that come to Him worshipping in the spirit and in truth. He is not looking for men and women to invest in His business. He is looking for true spirit worship without ulterior motive. He is looking for a broken and contrite heart.

John 14:6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus says that He is the truth. I have yet to find in his word where He ever says, “I am the investment.”

John 8:32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is the truth that will free us. The word used in the original text is ‘eleutheroo’. It means ‘to liberate’, to exempt from moral, ceremonial or mortal liability. It is to be free and not just free, but free indeed. John 8:36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Therefore, since Jesus is the truth, and we must worship God in spirit and truth, and it is this truth, or this knowledge of this truth that is going to set us free, and those that preach godliness as gain are destitute of the truth, this ‘investment’ ministry does not set us free, but pulls us deeper into the bondage of works based ministries. If I am not blessed enough, it is because I have not done enough works. The blessings of God are not based or founded in our works.

The parables of the talents bear this out even farther in as much as the reward was not based on the works but on the faithfulness to the work of the Master.

I said all that to get to this: I see people that appear to faithfully serve God struggle in life. (I say ‘appear’ as I can only see the surface of one’s life. I cannot see the workings of the heart or the mover of their spirit.) I asked God about this. I told God that I knew He was able to give exceeding abundantly above all we are able to ask or think. David said that he was young and now is old, and he has never seen the righteous forsaken nor His seed to beg bread. This speaks volumes to the keeping and blessing power of God. So, I did question God as to why it seemed that people struggled so much when abundant blessing were there for them.

God spoke to me and told me that people didn’t have the blessing and provisions provided because they forget or neglect to ask.

In Old Testament days, the priest could come once a year and stand in the presence of God. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil separating the Holy of Holies was rent in two. The separation between God and man was destroyed. In as much as, previously, sin could not stand in the presence of the holiness of God without being destroyed, grace now stood between God and His creation. Now, we can go to God directly. The blood of goats and lambs has been replaced by the blood of a perfect lamb. One great atoning sacrifice covering the sins of all men. God is in His place, waiting for mankind to come to Him. The invitation has been given. It has been repeated in innumerable sermons, in countless Bible Studies, in incalculable conversations since that day.

God says ‘Come.”

When your strength is not sufficient, He is waiting in the wings.

When your courage is not sustaining, He is waiting in the wings.

When your walk falters, He is still waiting.

When the night is long and dark, He is ever nearby, waiting.

When you do not have the words, He is waiting.

There have been numerous times portrayed in the Word where God was waiting at the place where He would meet the needs of man and man was not there.

In Genesis 3:8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

God came to the garden in what appeared to be a regular time and regular place. He expected that He would find Adam and Eve waiting as usual. However, this time, something was different. God was in his place, but man had moved. The Scriptures imply that this was a customary time of communing between God and man. This was the normal place of worship. In the past, God and man met here. They communed.

Something was different today; from any other day that God came to spend time with His creation. God was in His place, waiting, and man was hiding in shame. I wonder if the first revelation that came to Adam and Eve was the revelation of the magnitude of the act they had done. Their first knowledge of good and evil was the realization of their sin. They saw that they were naked and sewed aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves. Even this, an act of self righteousness, was not enough to bring them into the presence of God. Their best efforts still kept them away from the place where God would be waiting.

How many times has mankind fallen short of the mark and tried to sew together aprons of excuses to cover their shame? How often do we try to hide behind an apron of self justification? God is waiting to bless us. God is waiting to talk with us. God is in the place where we regularly meet him, and we are busy sewing together aprons of self righteousness.

God is in His place. Where are you?

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8.38-39 (NIV)

Satan uses all the devices at his disposal to hinder and destroy the creation of God. The scripture tells us that those that do not gather, scatter. There is no middle ‘doing nothing’ ground. You are either living for God or living for the devil.

God is the creator.

Satan is the un-creator..

A lie is the un-creation of truth. (God is truth.)

A murder is the un-creation of life. (He is come that we might have life.)

Ridicule is the un-creation of praise.

Pride is the un-creation of humility.

Envy is the un-creation of contentedness.

Lust is the un-creation of purity.

Blasphemy is the un-creation of glorifying.

Everything that God embraces, Satan hates. Everything God tries to build, Satan tried to destroy. Every purpose that God has, Satan proposes the opposite.

Neither life nor death; neither angels nor demons; neither the present nor the future; neither height nor depth; no powers; nothing else in creation; can separate us from the love of God. Why is it then, that there are times we do not feel that love? Why are there times when we feel we are walking through the desert alone? Why do trials and tests obscure the love we should know is always there?

We neglect or forget to go to God. We forget that He is waiting in the wings. He is waiting for us to put the problem in His hands.

We are busy sewing together aprons of fig leaves and he is in the garden waiting.

We are overcome by the magnitude of our ‘forgiven but not forgotten’ sins that we think we are not worthy to ask anything of God. This is a ploy of the enemy. We are not worthy. If we could make ourselves worthy, then Calvary was in vain.

We are hiding and God is waiting.

We are trying our own devices and God is holding the answer.

God is waiting.

Elijah put it out there. “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (I Kings 18.21)

Stop waiting.

Start deciding.

Make up your mind.

Trust God.

Trust man.

Choose one.

Remember, there is no middle ground.

Jesus said that you will either work for Him or against Him.

Will you keep Him waiting?

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:Isaiah 55.6

But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (Proverbs 1.25-27)

God said, you ignored my voice and you would not follow my leading. You kept me in the wings while you did it your way. As the result of your efforts, things got worse. Calamity, fear, desolation and destruction come as result. Distress and anguish come to you. Because you kept me at arm’s length, now, I will laugh at your efforts and your recompense.

God is waiting.

What will you do?

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