The Timing of the Lord

clockThere is an old gospel song by Mahalia Jackson titled, He’s Right on Time. At the end of the first verse of that song are these words,

He’s a God you just can’t hurry.
He’ll be there, don’t you worry.
He may not come when you want him, but he’s right on time

Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us have questioned the timing of the Lord. We may not be so bold as to do it vocally or to do it loudly, but we do it. We may not question God’s ability or power to accomplish anything, but we do question the when part of the equation.

Do you recall when Lazarus died? Jesus was told that Lazarus was gravely ill days before his death. Yet Jesus did not rush to his side to spare him from dying. When Jesus did arrive in Bethany, the sisters of Lazarus both questioned Jesus.

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

–Martha in John 11:21 & Mary in John 11:32

Was Jesus tardy? No. He was right on time. He was in time to glorify God by raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary (nor anybody else) understood that on the death side of a resurrection.

Sometimes God’s timing involves so much more than we could ever imagine. In Genesis 15 is the account of Abram receiving the promise from God that his descendants would inherit the promised land. If Abram had been a little more like we are prone to be, might he have said something like this? Lord, this is the land and here we are. Why not give it now?

Abram was standing and surveying the land. As far as he could see to the north and the south, to the east and the west was promised by God. So why didn’t God deed it over then? Genesis gives us a little insight into the workings and timing of God.

And they (Abram’s descendants) shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

Genesis 15:16 (parenthesis & emphasis mine)

Do you see that? The reason that God did not give the land over to Abram then and there was because of another group of people – wicked people. God would see that his own people, Abram’s people, would go down into Egypt for 400 years in order to complete the iniquity of the Amorites.

God orchestrated the whole story of Joseph going down into Egypt and Moses delivering out of Egypt for the sake of completing the iniquity of another people. How can we ever see all of the strategies that play into God’s masterplan? We can’t. Our response is to be that which was Abram’s. He believed God.

Today we await the return of our Lord. When will it be? We don’t know the timing. But it will be like the first appearing of our Lord.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…

–Galatians 4:4