Summary: We’ve been waiting for things to get back to normal. Waiting for schools to start and restaurants to open. Waiting for family reunions, weddings, and funerals. Waiting for test results,
hat a year. We’ve been waiting for things to get back to normal. Waiting for schools to start and restaurants to open. Waiting for family reunions, weddings, and funerals. Waiting for test results, the next wave of virus, and a vaccine. Waiting seems to have been the theme 2020. What’s promised for 2021? Very likely, more of the same. Normality? Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new head of the CDC said on Wednesday,
“I think we should manage our expectations in terms of taking off our masks… over time we will be able to maybe one day, not be in our masks anymore, but I have told my family I anticipate they’ll be wearing a mask for the better part of ’21 (Vanderberg).”
Let that sink in for a moment. What’s your response angry, disheartened, bothered, or maybe apathetic. My guess is that whatever we’re feeling it isn’t relief. But take heart because for God’s people, waiting is not new. Listen to these two verses of scripture. “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” And “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Those are the last verse in Malachi and the first verse in Matthew. Between those to lie 400 years. Protestants, or protest ants call this the 400 years of silence because there were no new prophets until John the Baptist was born.
God may not have raised up a prophet, but He remained active, moving, and shaping His people in order to prepare the world for the coming of the Christ. Do you think a group of brother ran the Greek army out of Israel on their own? Did they capture Jerusalem and the temple on their own? When the Temple is rededicated. Various Greek idols and the rest were taken from the Holy place and disposed of. Who do you think made one night of oil last for eight? It is YHWH, I Am, He who promises, through Malachi, the coming of Elijah.
J.R.R. Tolkien had Gandalf explain, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means too (Tolkien).” God is in control always. Always, God is control. In the unsettled coming 2021 be of good cheer for it looks as if our God would have us, once more, wait.
The Patience of Joseph
Ever been in a ‘no-win’ situation? Like the man on the witness stand who asked if he’d stopped beating his wife? Yes, or No doesn’t answer the question. Joseph and Mary are engaged. Marriage in Jesus’ day isn’t the same as marriage today.
1. Engagement or betrothal=married in the sight of the legal entities.
2. There is no intimacy during this betrothal. The wife lived with her parents
3. It wasn’t religious but social. There were no religious weddings. They were a matter of community, money, and honor.
You can imagine Joseph discovering Mary is pregnant and being told of Gabriel’s announcement to her. He could accuse her of being unfaithful and she would be shamed and hated along with her family. If things got out of hand she could have been stoned. Joseph could divorce her. When word got out, he’d look foolish for making promises he couldn’t keep. Good news, God had a third choice for Joseph. In a dream he’s told to take her as his wife and that Jesus would be “God with us”
Jesus was “born of a virgin” but God chose to protect Mary and Jesus through the courage of a man name Joseph. Joseph takes her and waits for the birth of his child. It is Joseph who gives normality to the family. He fills it out and makes it so Jesus doesn’t stand out as strange or unusual.
Patience of God’s People
James commands the church to be patient four times in four verses. The Greek word makroqumh,asate translated ‘patience’ is a compound word made up “macro” in the sense of ‘long’ or ‘far’ and ‘anger’ or ‘wrath’. It means that we, God’s people are to be ‘long-tempered’ not ‘short-tempered.’
James references two sources of patience with which the people were familiar. The prophets like Jeremiah and others who “spoke in the name of the Lord” (v10) even though it brought them suffering. James reminds us how we honor or bless those who have remained steadfast in tough situations. I and Bonhoeffer would disagree on some foundational theology, but I honor his steadfastness in the face of the Nazis. I couldn’t have done it. James mentions Job’s steadfastness because it is in being steadfast, patient, longsuffering, we perceive God’s purpose.
I love that his first example of patience is so regular and ordinary. Farming requires consistent and ongoing patience and so James says, “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains” (v7).