Waiting on God: For His Counsel
“They soon forgot His works: they waited not for His counsel.”
This is said of the sin of God’s people in the wilderness. He had wonderfully redeemed them, and was prepared as wonderfully to supply their every need. But, when the time of need came, “they waited not for His counsel.” They thought not that the Almighty God was their Leader and Provider; they asked not what His plans might be. They simply thought the thoughts of their own heart, and tempted and provoked God by their unbelief. “They waited not for His counsel.”
How this has been the sin of God’s people in all ages! In the land of Canaan, in the days of Joshua, the only three failures of which we read were owing to this one sin. In going up against Ai, in making a covenant with the Gibeonites, in settling down without going up to possess the whole land, they waited not for His counsel. And so even the advanced believer is in danger from this most subtle of temptations—taking God’s word and thinking his own thoughts of them, and not waiting for His counsel. Let us take the warning and see what Israel teaches us. And let us very specially regard it not only as a danger to which the individual is exposed, but as one against which God’s people, in their collective capacity, need to be on their guard.
Our whole relation to God is ruled in this, that His will is to be done in us and by us as it is in heaven. He has promised to make known His will to us by His Spirit, the Guide into all truth. And our position is to be that of waiting for His counsel as the only guide of our thoughts and actions. In our church worship, in our prayer-meetings, in our conventions, in all our gatherings as managers, or directors, or committees, or helpers in any part of the work for God, our first object ought ever to be to ascertain the mind of God. God always works according to the counsel of His will; the more that counsel of His will is sought and found and honored, the more surely and mightily will God do His work for us and through us.
The great danger in all such assemblies is that in our consciousness of having our Bible, and our past experience of God’ s leading, and our sound creed, and our honest wish to do God’s will, we trust in these, and do not realize that with every step we need and may have a heavenly guidance. There may be elements of God’s will, application of God’s word, experience of the close presence and leading of God, manifestations of the power of His Spirit, of which we know nothing as yet. God may be willing, nay, God is willing to open up these to the souls who are intently set upon allowing Him to have his way entirely, and who are willing in patience to wait for His making it known.
When we come together praising God for all He has done and taught and given, we may at the same time be limiting Him by not expecting greater things. It was when God had given the water out of the rock that they did not trust Him for bread. It was when God had given Jericho into his hands that Joshua thought the victory over Ai was sure, and waited not for counsel from God. And so, while we think that we know and trust the power of God for what we may expect, we may be hindering Him by not giving time, and not definitely cultivating the habit of waiting for His counsel.
A minister has no more solemn duty than teaching people to wait upon God. Why was it that in the house of Cornelius, when “Peter spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell upon all that heard him”? They had said, “We are here before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” We may come together to give and to listen to the most earnest exposition of God’s truth with little spiritual profit if there be not the waiting for God’s counsel. And so in all our gatherings we need to believe in the Holy Spirit as the Guide and Teacher of God’s saints when they wait to be led by Him into the things which God hath prepared, and which the heart cannot conceive.
More stillness of soul to realize God’s presence; more consciousness of ignorance of what God’s great plans may be; more faith in the certainty that God has greater things to show us; that He Himself will be revealed in new glory: these must be the marks of the assemblies of God’s saints if they would avoid the reproach, “They waited not for His counsel.”
“My soul, wait thou only upon God!”