Most of us don’t like waiting, and yet one characteristic of the walk of faith is its emphasis on living in the present on the basis of what one anticipates in the future . . . on what one is waiting for.
All of the Old Testament patriarchs, as Hebrews 11 tells us, believed that certain things would come true, even though they never got to experience them. They believed that God would give them the land of Canaan, though they only got to pass through the land as nomads.
In the Isaiah text above, notice the emphasis on the future: “There shall come forth . . . the Spirit shall rest upon him . . . his delight shall be . . . He shall not judge . . .” And so on. Near the end of the passage, he uses the expression, “In that day,” which in the Bible is loaded language (notice that the phrase is also in verse 11, which isn’t included in the text above). “In that day” points to the time of Christ, the time when God would act in incredible and beautiful ways on behalf of his people.
In a real sense, the entire Jewish experience was in view of what was to come . . . what God was going to do in Christ. A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse, and “in that day the root of Jesse . . . shall stand.”
But what about us?
We also live in anticipation of what God will do. In the sermon Sunday we’ll look briefly at James 5:7-11, where James writes that we should “be patient . . . until the coming of the Lord.” He points to the example of the patient farmer who waits for harvest and says that we too should be patient because “the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Our lives of faith are waiting lives. We look back to Jesus’ first coming, of course, but we also look ahead to his return.
And we wait. Waiting with joyful anticipation is a real characteristic of what it means to walk in faith.