For the week of January 16, 2010 / 1 Shevat 5770
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 6:2 - 9:35 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24


God's Timing

I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. (Shemot / Exodus 6:4,5; ESV)

I have heard it said that there are two ways that people relate to time. Some people are time oriented. They are the ones who structure their lives by the clock. Their existence seems to thrive on a mission control-type countdown: lunch will be ready in T minus 12 seconds. The starting bell and the ending buzzer are music in the ears of such people. And they just can't understand why others don't love to keep in sync with time as they do. The other group is event oriented. For these people things get done when they get done and then they move onto the next thing. The terms "soon" and "later" appear to have no real meaning to them. "We'll get there when we get there" describes how they relate to just about everything.

Entire cultures have been described as either time oriented or event oriented. That doesn't mean that all individuals in one type or the other relate to time in exactly the same way. But generally speaking various people groups, societies, and countries are more prone to one approach or the other. When two people of these two orientations clash with each other, what often happens is that the time-oriented person confronts the event-oriented person for always being late, while the event-oriented person chides the time-oriented one for caring more about the clock than about people.

The Bible tells us that God relates to time very differently than we do. This is well expressed in the New Covenant writings, with a likely allusion to what Moses wrote in Tehillim / Psalms 90, verse 4:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8,9; ESV)

God doesn't relate to time the way we do. This may sound that God is more event oriented than time oriented, but that is not really the point, because whatever type of person you are, whenever we go through hard times, waiting is difficult.

At the start we read that God was aware of the suffering of his people - a suffering that had gone on for hundreds of years. He tells Moses that he remembered his covenant to them. This use of the word "remember" doesn't mean that he had forgotten his covenant and that it just then came to mind. It means that the time had come in which he would take action.

Imagine living through all those years of oppressive slavery, praying to God and seeing no result - generation after generation with the situation going from bad to worse. Had God forgotten? Did God care? Does God exist?

We need to come to grips with the fact that God doesn't conduct his affairs according to our time schedule. God's timing is perfect. While he loves us and cares about us, he doesn't put the same value on comfort and convenience as we do. He has plans and purposes for us that may include very painful circumstances. He may call us to endure difficulty for long periods of time - longer than what we may prefer, but he does what he does when he does it for reasons far beyond our own understanding and personal sense of time.

Whether we are time oriented or event oriented, if our desire is to walk closely with God, then we would do well to be a lot more God oriented.

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