But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
The word translated as “wait” in this verse is qavah, a root word with a number of different meanings. As a root word, it literally means ‘to bind together’ in the sense of collecting, or twisting together.
Figuratively, it is used in the same sense as our literal understanding of the English word, ‘wait’ , but the use of the wordqavah adds two new dimensions, one in the sense of being “gathered together” and the second in the sense of collectively looking for, or waiting upon, something or someone, in this case, the Lord.
The traditional understanding of this verse is its literal, historical context, which is that of an exhortation to the children of Israel suffering a long and miserable captivity in Babylon.
The Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by Sargon the Assyrian a generation before, and there was little reason to believe the Kingdom of Judah would fare any better. As the years dragged by, the captives lost all hope of deliverance.
The Prophet Isaiah exhorted them with words of comfort and hope:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:1-3)
The Prophet goes on, offering comforting visions of future prosperity, mixed with promises of a Deliverer . . . yet the people remained in bondage. Isaiah closes with the exhortation about “waiting upon the Lord” . . . yet the people remained in bondage.
In the Big Picture, Isaiah’s vision spans the scope of history, from the Captivity through to the Diaspora, the Holocaust, and finally, the restoration process that began with its political revival in 1948 and will conclude with Israel’s national salvation at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
But it is also something of a metaphor for the Church in the last days. The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied Judah would serve Babylon for seventy years. So when the seventy years were over, all the Jews could expect to go home.
(If only they knew for sure when the seventy year time-clock started. Was it from the beginning of the siege in 597? From the date of the Destruction of the Temple in 586?)
And if one examines Jeremiah 25:9-12 closely, Jeremiah never said the captivity would last seventy years — he said thedesolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years . This is confirmed by the Prophet Daniel:
“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” (Daniel 9:2)
But is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see clearly that the seventy year time frame spanned the period of the Temple’s Desolation.
The Temple, and Jerusalem, were destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians. The Temple, which was rebuilt, was consecrated in 516 BC, exactly 70 years after its destruction.
But if you were a Jewish captive serving your Babylonian masters, until it was history, you might as well be trying to guess the date of the Rapture.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
In a sense, that’s where we are on the prophetic time clock today. Somewhere between the Temple Desolation Periods. The Temple was desolated in AD 70. The Bible predicts that at some point at or near the start of the Tribulation Period, the Third Temple will be rebuilt.
The Prophet Daniel predicted that the antichrist, — a prince of the people who destroyed it in AD 70, will confirm a covenant that will permit the Jews to rebuild the Temple and restore the Temple worship and sacrifice system.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)
So, Israel was restored politically in May, 1948 which is just over sixty-four years ago. For the first time in 2520 years, Israel was again in control of her own destiny. So, is this event thetimeclock? It hasn’t been seventy years yet, but it is close.
Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Did thatevent trigger the timeclock?
Jerusalem was recaptured in June, 1967. And here we are, forty-seven years later, still arguing about whether Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, or of the non-existent state of Palestine.
Like the Babylonian captives, we won’t know exactly what event started the timeclock until afterwards. Like them, we look around for signs that will give us hope that our deliverance is near.
Every one of the major miracles in the life of Jesus corresponded to a major Jewish feast day. The only two feast days for which there is not a corresponding major miracle are Rosh Hashanah – the Feast of the Trumpets – and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Jesus died to atone for my sins and on the Day of the Rapture, I will be caught up with Him, completing my atonement process! It is an entirely logical assumption. It is extremely compelling. Heck, it might even be right.
Except it isn’t. Every year, both days go by and we’re still here. We didn’t go last time around. Probably won’t go this time around.
So we fixate on this sign, or that, while guys like Harold Camping give guys like Bill Maher all the material necessary to discourage guys like you and me.
And, as each period passes, more scoffers come out. Go back to 2 Peter 3 and read Peter’s assessment of the scoffers in full — and see if you can identify them from his description.
He tells you not only who they are, but WHY they became scoffers.
“And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
The scoffers know of the Promise. It isn’t guys like Bill Maher that Peter is talking about. The scoffers are believers who got burned by bad doctrine. They got tired of waiting for the Lord and started looking for teachers offering shortcuts that ultimately didn’t pan out.
As students of Bible prophecy, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We’re to be witnesses. Not storytellers.
Bible prophecy is both the proof of God’s existence and the assurance we have of our salvation.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)
The same Voice that proclaimed,
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)
Bible prophecy is not gloom and doom, but instead offers hope and a blessed assurance. It is proof positive that God remains on His Throne and that He WILL do all that He has promised.
But it is NOT a parlour game to be used to impress people at parties or to divine the future. There must be a million websites devoted to identifying the antichrist (and selling you provisions to escape the coming wrath.)
Believers are instructed to await the return of the Lord for His Church, not the coming of the antichrist. Signs that the world is preparing for the antichrist are really signs the Lord is preparing to come for His Church first.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 admonishes us; . . . “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
We are instructed to wait for the Deliverer from wrath, not the wrath itself.
To the lost, the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief. But to believers who are expecting Him and do not sleep, the Bible says that Christ will not come “as a thief.”
This does NOT mean that we are prepared because we KNOW the date of His return, rather, we are not surprised because we are EXPECTING an IMMINENT Rapture.
It is the job of the Church to prepare the world for the coming of Christ, not to try and figure out His exact itinerary.
Guys like Bill Maher are rich enough already.