Terry was in obvious labor with our first son, Ron, for 47 hours. Tensions ran high with both of us at King’s Daughter Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va. The doctor kept stressing patience and letting nature take its course.
After the first day, I put my head on Terry’s stomach and verbally insisted to Ron that it was time. He did not listen very well. We expected an October 12th baby, but got an October 14th one instead. What this first time father learned for a baby being born is that a baby will be born when a baby is ready to be born.
But, behind this “Like, duh!” statement stands a critical truth about God revealed in Isaiah 18:4. The first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah are set within the historical context of the troublesome times of the Eight Century B.C. The Assyrians were the big dogs of the empire pack, controlling economic and military affairs with a ruthless, grasping ethic.
Consequently, other nations kept coming up with a variety of schemes and scenarios as possible ways of negating the Assyrian domination. In this particular text, the Ethiopians attempted to take matters into their own hands.
Apparently, the Ethiopians thought it would be helpful and necessary to incorporate the government at Jerusalem into their plan. With Jerusalem’s help, Ethiopia felt assured they could hasten the process of wrestling control of the Middle East from the Assyrians.
Though the timing seemed right to Ethiopia, it was not the right timing with God. God had a different plan and time-table. God most certainly was going to deal with Assyria. But, God was calmly in charge according to His particular timing.
Isaiah wrote that God said, “For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like shimmering heat in sunshine, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
While Ethiopia was tense about birthing a new state of affairs, God was not in any hurry. His will is never delivered before the time, and His will is never delivered after the time. God is always on time in His own time.
We find here, therefore, a valuable lesson for the people of God to embrace. Just like the timing of a child being born, there is nothing any one can do until God sees fit to do it.
Ethiopia’s self-will proved fatal. Although informed about God’s will, Ethiopia attacked Jerusalem when diplomacy did not work. Assyria counter-attacked, and inflicted a devastating defeat on Ethiopia. Ethiopia paid the price for trying to go over God’s head.
This incident reveals some characteristics about how God calmly handles human affairs. First, it is apparent that God does not “get stressed” with human affairs. This is affirmed by what God said, “I will take my rest. I will remain quiet.” By comparison, why should we get stressed with the circumstances of our affairs if God does not get stressed with our affairs?
This is a critical spiritual truth that God keeps stressing to us. He keeps telling us in His Word not to worry about anything. If God is not going to get stressed as He calmly handles human affairs, neither should we as we wait for Him to work.
Second, God is very much aware of our human circumstances from His position in Heaven as “He looks on from His dwelling place.” He is constantly on top of our problems, seeing things we do not see, knowing things we do not know, and working together for our good. We need to trust that.
Third, God purposely manifests His presence during the courses of our troubles. This is described in two ways. His presence is manifested like “shimmering heat in sunshine.” Have you ever noticed on hot summer days that, as you gaze in the distance, the atmosphere seems to writhe and wriggle? The “shimmering” is symbolic of God’s assuring presence. Then, there are the “clouds of dew.” Clouds typically refer to God’s manifested presence.
Though our human affairs may get heated up, God wants us to know that He is involved and present. The vital difference we can demonstrate about the Christian life is patient trust in God. As He is calm and steady, so should we be, and can be.
I have to admit that I was in a hurry for Ron to be born. But, God’s timing was perfect. I do not know why October 14th was better than October 12th. All I know is that Ron’s life has been a blessing to us these past 41 years.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.