“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” – Matt 24:36
…………………………………………………………………………….Waiting is the worst!
Whether it is waiting for a sentence to begin or waiting for the next season of your favorite show to come out, it is universally excepted that the waiting is the worst part! It has only gotten worse in our culture of now.
Waiting touches us all as christians in one of our weakest areas, the area of patience. We like to believe that we have patience, after all we wait for things all the time, but if we were honest with ourselves we would see that the only time we truly practice patience is when we have no other choice.
Is it any wonder then that James calls us to patience in the waiting of our Lords return!
“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matt 24:37-39
Matthew makes clear in his gospel that no one knows the day or the hour that Christ will return to gather up those who follow Him. He also makes clear that just like when Noah was on the earth Christ’s return will be at the time when we are not expecting it and are just going about our normal lives.
Matthew goes on to say that in many places there will be two working and one will be taken and another left behind. (Matt 24:40-42) He warns us to stay awake and alert for the coming of the Lord.
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Finally Matthew uses the analogy of a thief coming in the night to tell us to stay alert and be ready because the Lord will return at the hour we least expect. These verses in Matthew serve to prepare our minds for what James calls us to later on, a call to patience in our suffering on this earth.
James tells us three things that we should know if we are to wait for our Lord the way that he and Matthew call us to do.
1. Wait As A Farmer Waits
“…See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” – James 5:7b
A farmer is one of the best examples of patience we have in our world today. He literally spends an entire year waiting for his crops to grow, waiting for rain, and waiting for the harvest. Is it any wonder then that James calls us first to wait like a farmer waits.
A farmer though he is waiting is also very active in his waiting. He does not just sit on the porch and look at the field and hope for growth, but instead goes out and tends to those fields, nurturing and caring until the time of harvest. This is what we are called to do as well, we are called to be active in our world for the Gospel to be nurturing and caring for this world and its people until the time of harvest.
2. Wait Without Complaint
“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” – James 5:9
How many of us when asked by our parents, boss, or authority figure to do a task do it with absolutely no complaint. If we all answered zero we would be very close to correct. Most of us if asked to do something that is not what we want to do in that moment will grumble and complain like we were asked to kill our best friend.
James and ultimately God is calling us in these verses to wait on his coming working in the fields (see point 1), and to do so without grumbling or complaining. He is calling us to a life of following Him knowing that Christ’s return could be any day.
With this call to a life without grumbling is a warning that the one who will judge us is just outside the door. The image is that of an authority figure who you are grumbling about being just on the other side of the door hearing every word. It is a vivid reminder that our Lord is near at all times.
3. Wait As The Prophets
“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James – 5:11
The prophets we an amazing group of men. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elisha, Elijah, and Isaiah all count themselves among this group of amazing men. What then is it that James is calling us to follow about these men?
Is it there passion? Or perhaps is it there strength?
No! James is calling us to follow there steadfastness, and faith.
Now in language steadfastness means much the same thing as patience, however the evoking image of steadfastness is being immovable even in the midst of a driving force. See all of the prophets were calling forward to a time that was coming, constantly saying that what they were prophesying was near at hand. However, very few of them lived to see all of there prophesies come to pass.
This is what James is calling us to! Calling us to be the workers in the field active in planting and nurturing the harvest, to do so without complaint or grumbling, and to be steadfast in our work even if the end is not in our time. He calls us to this because as James says “the coming of the Lord is at hand”