"I will wait on the Lord, that hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will look for Him." Isaiah 8:17
Here we have a servant of God, waiting on Him, not on behalf of himself, but of his people, from whom God was hiding His face. It suggests to us how our waiting on God, though it commences with our personal needs, with the desire for the revelation of Himself, or for the answer to personal petitions, need not, may not, stop there. We may be walking in the full light of God’s countenance, and God yet be hiding His face from His people around us; far from being content to think that this is nothing but the just punishment of their sin, or the consequence of their indifference, we are called with tender hearts to think of their sad estate, and to wait on God on their behalf. The privilege of waiting on God is one that brings great responsibility.
Even as Christ, when He entered God’s presence, at once used His place of privilege and honor as intercessor, so we, no less, if we know what it is really to enter in and wait on God, must use our access for our less favored brethren. "I will wait on the Lord, who hides His face from the house of Jacob."
You worship with a certain congregation. Possibly there is not the spiritual life or joy either in the preaching or in the fellowship that you could desire. You belong to a Church, with its many congregations. There is so much of error or worldliness, of seeking after human wisdom and culture, or trust in ordinances and observances, that you do not wonder that God hides His face, in many cases, and that there is but little power for conversion or true edification.
Then there are branches of Christian work with which you are connected - a Sunday school, a gospel hall, a young men’s association, a mission work abroad - in which the feebleness of the Spirit’s working appears to indicate that God is hiding His face. You think, too, you know the reason, There is too much trust in men and money; there is too much formality and self-indulgence; there is too little faith and prayer; too little love and humility; too little of the spirit of the crucified Jesus. At times you feel as if things were hopeless; nothing will help. Do believe that God can help and will help. Let the spirit of the prophet come into you, as you value his words, and set yourself to wait on God, on behalf of His erring children.
Instead of the tone of judgement or condemnation, of despondency or despair, realize your calling to wait on God. If others fail in doing it, give yourself doubly to it; the deeper the darkness, the greater the need of appealing to the only Deliverer. The greater the self-confidence around you, that knows not that it is poor and wretched and blind, the more urgent the call on you who profess to see the evil and to have access to Him who alone can help, to be at your post waiting on God. Say on each new occasion, when you are tempted to speak or to sigh: "I will wait on the Lord, who hides His face from the house of Jacob."
There is a still larger circle - the Christian Church throughout the world. Think of Greek, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches, and the state of the millions that belong to them. Or think only of the Protestant churches with their open Bible and orthodox creeds. How much nominal profession and formality, how much of the rule of the flesh and of man in the very temple of God! And what abundant proof that God does hide his face!
What are those who see and mourn this to do? The first thing to be done is this: "I will wait on the Lord, who hides His face from the house of Jacob." Let us wait on God, in the humble confession of the sins of His people. Let us take time and wait on Him in this exercise. Let us wait on God in tender, loving intercession for all saints, our beloved brethren, however wrong their lives or their teaching may appear. Let us wait on God in faith and expectation, until He shows us that He will hear. Let us wait on God, with the simple offering of ourselves to Himself, and the earnest prayer that He would send us to our brethren. Let us wait on God, and give Him no rest till He makes Zion a joy in the earth. Yes, let us rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him who now hides His face from so many of His children. And let us say of the lifting up of the light of His countenance we long for all His people, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and my hope is in His word. My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchers for the morning."
"My soul, wait only on God!"