Waiting is a common theme found throughout the Bible. God often calls His people to wait patiently for His perfect timing and trust in His sovereign plan. Waiting strengthens our faith and draws us into deeper relationship with God. Here are some prominent examples of waiting found in Scripture.
Waiting can be one of the most difficult things we are called to do as Christians. We live in a culture of instant gratification where we expect to get what we want when we want it. However, God operates on His own perfect timeline, not ours.
When we wait on the Lord, we demonstrate that we trust in His goodness and faithfulness. Waiting trains us to rely on God rather than ourselves. It transforms our hearts to desire God above all else.
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Here are some key takeaways about Biblical waiting:
- Waiting draws us closer to God. As we learn to wait patiently on Him, we develop our relationship with Him.
- God often uses times of waiting to strengthen our faith in new ways. Waiting exposes areas where we need to surrender and grow.
- Waiting on God requires faith and patience. We trust that God sees the full picture and His timing is perfect.
- God is at work even when we can’t perceive it. Our job is to wait expectantly.
- Waiting prepares us for God’s promises and plans at just the right time.
Several prominent Biblical figures had to wait patiently on God. As we walk through their stories, we can learn how to wait well.
- Abraham and Sarah Wait for the Promised Child
- Joseph Waits for God's Plan from Prison
- Noah Waits for the Great Flood
- Israel Waits for Freedom from Slavery
- David Waits to Become King
- Jesus Waits to Begin Public Ministry
- The Early Church Waits for the Holy Spirit
- We Wait for Jesus' Return
Abraham and Sarah Wait for the Promised Child
One of the most famous Biblical waits involved Abraham and Sarah longing for the child God had promised them. Though Abraham was already old when God pledged to make his offspring a great nation (Gen 12:2), they had to wait many decades for that promise to be fulfilled.
After 10 years with no child, Sarah offered her servant Hagar to Abraham in hopes of building their family through her (Gen 16:1-2). This led to the birth of Ishmael, but it was not the son God had promised them.
God reiterated His pledge when Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90, well past normal childbearing age (Gen 17:1-22). Yet they continued to wait on God, even when the promise seemed impossible.
At 100 years old, Abraham finally received the long-awaited son with Sarah, just as God declared (Gen 21:1-7). Though incredibly difficult, their waiting exemplified tremendous trust in God’s faithfulness.
Key Takeaway: God fulfilled His promise in His perfect timing. Abraham and Sarah had to trust Him even when it seemed too late.
Joseph Waits for God’s Plan from Prison
Joseph’s story contains a period of waiting that spanned 13 long years (Gen 37-50). As a young man, God gave Joseph dreams that his family would one day bow down to him (Gen 37:5-11). But his jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt instead (Gen 37:12-36).
In Egypt, Joseph was falsely accused and imprisoned (Gen 39:7-20). He languished in prison for years, but he continued to trust in God’s plan. While confined, Joseph accurately interpreted dreams for two of Pharaoh’s servants (Gen 40).
After 12 years in prison, Joseph was finally summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, for which no one else could find the meaning (Gen 41:1-40). Joseph gave glory to God, showing that he had waited patiently for God’s timing.
Joseph was appointed second in command over Egypt and strategically led them through famine. His wise planning ended up saving his family when they came requesting food years later (Gen 42-46). Joseph had waited over a decade for God to fulfill the dreams he had given.
Key Takeaway: Joseph waited faithfully, believing that God had a purpose, even when falsely accused. God used him mightily after his season of waiting.
Noah Waits for the Great Flood
Noah was instructed to build an ark to rescue his family and the animals from a terrible flood that would destroy the earth (Gen 6:14-21). He faithfully constructed the massive ship on dry land even though rain was not normal for that time.
For decades as he worked, Noah warned those around him to repent, but they didn’t believe a flood was coming (2 Pet 2:5). Noah persevered in obeying God, though the coming judgment lingered.
After waiting for God’s appointed time, the flood finally came just as He had foretold (Gen 7:10-12). Noah and his family were securely protected in the ark they had labored so long to construct.
Waiting for God’s timing was a matter of life and death. Noah had to trust God’s revealed plan, even when it seemed unlikely. His faithful obedience resulted in the preservation of humanity.
Key Takeaway: Noah waited through years of hard work for God’s predicted purpose. His perseverance led to salvation.
Israel Waits for Freedom from Slavery
The people of Israel endured 400 years of bitter slavery in Egypt (Gen 15:13). Generation after generation was oppressed and forced into grueling labor. They cried out to God, petitioning Him for rescue.
Though it took centuries of waiting, God was at work. He raised up Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand Israel’s release (Ex 3-6). After a lengthy battle including 10 plagues sent by God (Ex 7-11), Pharaoh finally allowed Israel to leave Egypt (Ex 12:31-42).
God led His people out with mighty displays of power. He divided the Red Sea for them to walk across on dry land (Ex 14:21-22). After waiting 400 painful years, the time for their deliverance had fully come. God accomplished it with miraculous signs.
Key Takeaway: Israel’s suffering had an appointed end. God kept His covenant promises in His perfect timing.
David Waits to Become King
As a young man, David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king over Israel (1 Sam 16:1-13). He was chosen by God and filled with His Spirit. Yet David had to wait many years before actually taking the throne.
King Saul grew jealous and suspicious of David, forcing him to flee into the wilderness (1 Sam 18-26). During this decade of waiting, David learned to depend on God. Though he had opportunity, he refused to kill Saul, waiting for God’s timing (1 Sam 24, 26).
Only after Saul’s death in battle did David finally become king over Israel (2 Sam 1-5). God prepared him to rule through long years of difficulty and dependence. David experienced God’s faithfulness throughout the waiting period.
Key Takeaway: Despite being anointed as king, David had to patiently endure hardship before taking the throne.
Jesus Waits to Begin Public Ministry
Though Jesus was the eternal Son of God, He willingly emptied Himself and entered the world as a helpless baby (Phil 2:5-8). The Savior of mankind was born into humble obscurity.
Jesus grew up in relative anonymity, submitting to earthly parents and authority. Already containing limitless power and wisdom, He humbly waited 30 years to begin His public ministry (Luke 3:23).
At just 12 years old, Jesus displayed advanced understanding in the temple courts (Luke 2:41-51). Yet He willingly returned to His quiet life in Nazareth and was obedient to His earthly guardians. He waited for God’s timing.
When Jesus did finally emerge into public view, He immediately fulfilled the purpose that He had long awaited (Matt 3:13-17). His three years of powerful ministry turned the world upside down. But until then, He waited.
Key Takeaway: Though the eternal Son of God, Jesus waited 30 years before starting public ministry. His humility allowed God to choose perfect timing.
The Early Church Waits for the Holy Spirit
After Jesus ascended to heaven, He commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Though eager to begin spreading the Gospel, they faithfully waited and prayed together (Acts 1:14).
On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out on believers just as Jesus had pledged (Acts 2:1-4). With joy, they immediately moved out in ministry empowered by the Spirit. Their waiting prepared them for greater effectiveness.
In Troas years later, Paul was blocked by the Spirit from going where he planned (Acts 16:6-10). Waiting for God’s direction, he received the Macedonian vision calling him to bring the Gospel to Europe instead.
Key Takeaway: Waiting allowed the early church to receive power from the Spirit and direction for ministry.
We Wait for Jesus’ Return
Just before He ascended, Jesus promised that one day He would return to make all things new (Matt 24:3, 30-31; Rev 21:5). For 2000 years, believers have waited expectantly for that glorious day.
We, like all generations before us, live in the hope that we may see Christ return in our lifetime. We wait, watch, and work to build God’s Kingdom on earth in the meantime.
Waiting for Jesus stretches our endurance and reminds us that we are sojourners on the way to our heavenly home. It inspires us to live holy lives, ready to welcome our King (2 Pet 3:11-13).
One day our waiting will end. The skies will burst open and Jesus Himself will descend on the clouds in magnificent glory (1 Thess 4:16-17). What a day that will be! Until then, we wait with patience and excited hope.
Key Takeaway: All believers through history have waited expectantly for Jesus to return and make all things right. This hope propels us.
The Bible depicts many godly people who endured times of waiting for God’s promises or direction. Like them, God often calls us to wait patiently too.
Waiting strengthens our faith and equips us for greater things ahead. As we surrender our impatience and desires for control to God, He works profound transformation inside us. Our relationship with Him deepens.
Though hard, times of waiting can become treasured seasons that we look back on with gratitude. They expand our capacity to hear God’s voice and discern His guidance.
God is never early or late, but always on time. When we wait on Him, we will find He is faithful. At just the right moment, His purposes for our lives will burst gloriously into view.