The Long Enough and the Little While
“The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: Turn you, and take your journey” (Deu.1:6, 7).
“We compassed mount Seir many days. And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward” (Deu.2:2-3).
The excesses of human behaviour are often exemplified in the “long waits” of life. It is always fascinating to watch people in a traffic jam or in a long queue!
(Christians beware, you are being watched.) However, sometimes prolonged suspense can try even the most long tempered of individuals. Waiting for results from the hospital on serious medical tests, for example, or waiting for word from a loved one who has left home and wandered seriously out of the way can try the most stable of believers. Waiting for this world to waken up to its need of a Saviour can burden us to the point that hope begins to fade. How many of us have cried, “Lord, how long”?
“Long enough” was the answer to Israel. His lessons to the nation at Horeb and at Mount Seir were over. They could now move on. It is good to remember this in the “waits” of life. God has a purpose to teach us in the periods of agonising wait.
It is often in these periods that we are closer to God than at any other time because we are utterly dependant upon Him. Sometimes, sadly, in the sunny periods of our life we can be self sufficient.
Measuring “time” when you are waiting is not helpful. Sometimes it prolongs the agony. The “long enough” of Deuteronomy chapter 1 was less than a year, The “long enough” of Deuteronomy 2 was “38 years”. The lesson seems to be that God’s interludes are not measured by human standards. The divine “long enough” is measured with a different scale and a distinct set of units. Using a watch or a calendar to measure God’s interludes will only frustrate. (This is also true of God’s “little whiles” – in John’s gospel they can vary from a few hours to over 2000 years). God’s afflictions which produce within us “an eternal weight of glory” are only for a divine “moment” (2Cor.4:17) but may span a few hours or a human lifetime. The encouraging thing is that our God states that the affliction will be “long enough”, but no longer than that.
Circumstances in God’s “long enough” can be very different. The “long enough” of Deuteronomy chapter 1 was at Mount Horeb, where the law was given and the tabernacle constructed and erected. It was a place and a time of great blessing – no death took place at all. In contradistinction, the “long enough” of Deuteronomy chapter 2 was at Mount Seir. It was one large graveyard with over 1.2 million graves. One was teaching the Israelite of the importance of God’s Sanctuary the other of God’s Sovereignty. He was offended with His people’s unbelief and
disobedience. Some lessons are so much harder to learn than others.
When we have been taught through the “waits” we rarely need be re-taught the lesson. Moses “wait” of 40 years in the desert surely taught him to depend on His God and never to depend on Egypt. Israel’s wait at Horeb constructing the tabernacle would teach them the importance of the place of the Name – God
dwelling amongst His people. The “38 year wait” at Mount Seir would result in a thirst for the land which was manifestly absent at Kadesh Barnea (Nu.14).
Perhaps today the dot-com culture is preventing us from learning from God in life’s interludes. We do not have the same thirst for His word and His inheritance as we ought. Things are expected to happen at the press of a button. God’s purpose does not work on the principle of man’s whim. He has a greater plan. It works on
man’s weakness and His sufficiency. It takes longer to learn but produces eternal results.
Waiting is not wasted time. Those who waited during the war after Ziklag burned (1Sam.30) still served. The Psalmist is constantly encouraging us to “wait on the Lord”. However, God also wants us to move on. It is always a thrill when we know that He has determined that we have waited “long enough”. So Christian saint
keep praying for that wayward child, keep hoping when life seems to be taking you down the darkest and deepest of valleys, keep praying for this unbelieving world. Keep trusting as God’s purpose will be outworked. When will it be all over? When will the “little while” be past and the Saviour comes? The answer of scripture is “long enough”.