The Power of the Two Days
One of the primary issues of the Christian walk is the issue of living faith. I choose the phrase living faith for two reasons. The first of the two reasons is that I often hear brothers and sisters talking about living by faith when in actuality seldom do I find a believer really walking in genuine faith. The second reason is this: living by faith (really) requires a living faith and that kind of faith is the product of a revealed Word from heaven. That revealed Word can be the written Word revealed or a Word from the Holy Spirit.
You may note as I have that the Western Church has a view of the Christian walk that is centered in education rather than and oftentimes in lieu of real experience. I recently heard a brother while teaching say this, “every revelation that is God given is intended to bring you into a real experience, and if it doesn’t it will only serve to make you more religious.” I heartily agree and it has been my observation over my years of ministry that many saints confuse hearing a message / teaching with actually walking in the experience of the revelation of that message or teaching.
The Warfare of Waiting
Central to the experience of walking in real faith is the issue of waiting on God. There is a kind of waiting that issues from the leading of the Holy Spirit that not only accomplishes something no other form of faith act can but is actually one of the most powerful kinds of warfare that the believer can engage. I was recently in a prayer service in which the saints that were assembled were just waiting on the Lord. Now one might expect that this is a “good starting place” for a prayer gathering. However, I noticed personally that I was going through a range of emotions in this silence. I passed through a serious time of feeling the responsibility to lead—do something (for goodness sakes!) and do it now!! The tension between spirit and soul for me was intense but I continued to have the sense that this silence was in order. At some point in the three hours of almost complete silence I began to notice a settling in me and an entering into a rest which resulted in unhooking me from the multitude of thoughts that were flooding my mind. The more I entered into the Presence of the Lord, the more I found that I was being freed from the pressure, even the obligation, to lead.
The bible says that it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God. In Hebrews …….. the scripture says that if we will not “cast away” our confidence in God we will experience the receiving of a great reward from God. Standing in faith (after we have done everything associated with obedience to the Word of the Lord) with a wholehearted trust and confidence in God may be one of the highest levels of spiritual warfare one may engage. This is true worship!
Oftentimes as a result of the culture of production and competition which we are brought up in there is an abiding idea that we must take things into our own hands, make something happen, use our mind or even “step out in faith”; in other words do something, don’t just sit there! There certainly comes a time in the process of living out our faith that a step is taken but more often than not a step is taken long before the Lord actually intends us to move. If we would admit it—waiting is one of the most difficult parts of the faith experience.
Jesus Waited Two Days
When word got to Jesus that Lazarus His friend was sick we all expected a far different response than the one recorded in scripture. The scripture says that when Jesus heard that His friend Lazarus was dying that He waited two days! How responsible could that possibly be? Come on Jesus, there is a serious need here, and after all it isn’t just anyone, it is your friend! This is a real priority. You need to drop what you are doing and go—and go now. The response of Jesus had to be downright puzzling to those waiting for Jesus to come. Can you imagine what was going through Lazarus’ mind? We see later in this passage that this waiting two days was extremely troublesome to Mary and Martha, the sisters of this dying man. In fact it was so troublesome that Mary even blamed the Lord for the death of her brother when she said, “if you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.”
Why did Jesus wait? What did Jesus know that the others did not know? What motivated Him to wait those two days? Now you may think that these questions and the answers to them are being inserted for a better understanding of the story of Lazarus, Mary, Martha and Jesus but it isn’t that at all. The truths surrounding this whole story are truths that you will encounter many, many times in your faith walk. When it looks like that thing that is even God given is dying what will you do? When you have come before the Lord and stood in His counsel to receive instructions, and the instructions you hear are of the kind like, “not yet”, “just wait”, “stand still”—the last thing you want to hear or expected to hear, what will you do? How will you respond? Will you be willing to face misunderstanding and criticism? I can tell you from experience people will not understand you most of the time when you are doing what the Lord wants you to do. The scripture says that spiritual things are spiritually discerned and in an event like Jesus delaying two days after having been told that Lazarus was dying, you can be sure that if you obey the Lord there will be few who understand your actions.
In a culture of hype and self promotion, there is such a huge need for men and women of authority—leaders in the Body of Christ, to stand over against the god of this world and the ruling systems of this world and be different! What if, for a change, men and women of God didn’t self promote? What if all of the props were removed so it could be clearly seen where God leaves off and men take up? Would there be any work remaining at all? If the fire of God were to be kindled upon the work we are doing would it stand as gold, silver and precious stone, or would it go up in smoke as wood, hay and stubble? Now these truths are not just relegated to the leader, the pastor, the minister; not at all, these truths are fundamental to the whole Church. Is the career path that you are on resultant from your hearing a Word from heaven? Are the relationships surrounding you divine in their origin? Have you waited sufficiently on the Lord’s sovereign will for your life to be revealed and are you living out of that revelation? The scripture says, “where there is no prophetic revelation the people cast off restraint" (one translation says “run wild”). Are you running your race in the sovereign will of God or making decisions pretty much just like any worldling would?
The Power of the Two Days
I can assure you that if you choose to take the road less traveled by waiting on the Lord that you will find that way to be narrow, not broad; you will also find that it truly leads to life. I challenge you to dare to operate your life, ministry and family by the pure motivation of hearing from heaven and doing what you have heard from heaven. Nothing less and nothing more. See what will happen. Just as Jesus said about the whole event with Lazarus, “it is for the glory of God”, you will find yourself on a great adventure that routinely ends up with the glory of God being revealed.
We are so accustomed to rushing in like heroes to save the day. “Out of the way madam, let a man get through!” In John Wayne style, “Gosh pilgrim, I see you need my help there” or “here I am to save the day” is the kind of attitude that often prevails. Jesus wouldn’t contaminate the atmosphere with human thought or motion—He waited two days. In the two day wait however something is stirring. Death is eminent. The power of death, fear, is seizing upon the hearts of the ones most vested in the circumstance. Hope fades—mortality gives way to death—it’s over; nothing can be done now. Why? Why?!
Everything human must now be set aside. The last flicker of faith is now extinguished and the flame of hope dies. All of the props are falling down. Everything that held up the human vision of a healed Lazarus must now give up. There is nothing more that can be done now—it’s final! Lazarus is dead!! And by the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been beed four days!!
As Jesus approaches Bathany, he is met by Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus. Immediately Martha asked Jesus, "Why didn’t you come"? she further insisted on knowing - "did you not get the word we sent to you"? "Did you not understand that we needed you here two days ago"? "Didn’t you understand the gravity of the situation"? "If you really loved him—loved us, you would have come two days ago". "If you had only come, our brother wouldn’t have died". "We don’t understand you". "How could you stand by and let this happen to us"? "How"? "Why"?
Jesus responds by saying, “do you believe that your brother will rise again?” They answer by saying, "yes we do believe that he will rise again in the resurrection". Now Jesus advances the discussion by saying in no uncertain terms, “I am the resurrection.” “It’s not about a day—I am the day!” Jesus is saying plainly that He is the embodiment of the resurrection. Furthermore Jesus was moving in the revealed Word of the Father. He knew beforehand that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew the will of the Father in this specific situation and because He did, He wasn’t in a hurry. He in fact needed to delay in order to show forth the glory of God.
How is it with you friend? Can you afford to wait two days? If you don’t rush in and hold things together, what will be the outcome? Have you yet learned the way of waiting on the Lord in silence in order to obtain clear direction from Him? Are these things taught as fundamentals to most believers or have they been largely lost in the name of progress and 21st century Christianity? Oh, to learn to wait on the Lord. To learn to linger in His presence until we hear Him speaking. To know experientially that He is altogether sufficient for us! King David said, “if the earth be removed yet will I praise Thee.” Job said, “though He slay me yet will I praise Him.” Jesus said, at the tomb-side of His friend, “Father, I thank you that you always hear Me.”
What will you do in the face of serious challenge if you don’t have a history of waiting on the Lord? How will you handle criticism and misunderstanding, even by close friends when you are moving in the perfect will and direction of God and they haven’t seen what you have seen? Will you be able to bear the stigma of the burden of the Lord if it looks very different than what most of the others are doing? Most people will not have seen or heard what you have seen or heard so they are not to be expected to understand.
The Lord will give you many smaller opportunities before you advance to larger ones. Learn to wait in the Lord’s presence, holding your heart before Him and listening for His counsel. So what if things begin to fall down? We need to see whatever is holding the thing together that isn’t the Word of the Lord. Except the Lord build the House, we are laboring in vain. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. If God is building something He will keep it. If He isn’t building the thing, is it worth keeping anyway?
Man can’t live on bread alone; he lives by the Word that is proceeding out of the mouth of God. This is actually the way Jesus lived. This is actually the way you and I are called to live. This is real food and real drink!! Please consider these things. I believe them to be fundamental to a walk with God that gains a genuine, "Well done."! May God bless you as you continue to pursue the His ways!