WAIT: qavah. Verb. (Strong’s 6960).
Sounds like: kaw-vah
Today is the birthday of my incredibly bright, introverted, creative and valiant daughter, Bridget. Her birth was painful (as all drug-free births are), but I was fortunate in regards to how abruptly it started and how quickly it ended. I was particularly blessed, as she arrived two days early. My first daughter, Grace, arrived exactly on her due date… and so I never experienced the long wait of an overdue baby.
Waiting is a prevalent theme in the Bible. There was a lot of waiting for God… waiting for Him to avenge His people… waiting for Him to bring Salvation… waiting for redemption… waiting for Him to come back…
Waiting for God
The first time this word shows up in the Bible, however, it was not people who waited… it was the waters:
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered [wait: qia’wu] together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering [collection: u’le’mikveh] of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
In verse 9 the waters followed God’s command and they waited together. Most translations use the word gathered, but the word is waited. The idea was they waited for God’s plan to go into action. In verse 10 most translations stick with “gathered”, which is a better rendering of the meaning of this completely different Hebrew word. This particular word comes from the root word mikveh, and it means a collection or hopeful gathering.
So the waters waited together in one place and God called the collection of water “seas”. What were the waters waiting for? In verse 20 God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures,” and the narrative continued on with:
God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
The waters waited and they were rewarded with a purpose. Waiting for a purpose, however, isn’t always what we want to do. We think we know what we want to do. We’d rather wait for God to take action against our enemies.
Waiting for Revenge
The Israelites, in the time of the Babylonian domination, waited for an immediate, vengeful, reaction from God… but that was not what they got. When God didn’t immediately strike their enemies dead, they wondered if they had been rejected by YHWH:
Have You completely rejected Judah? Or have You loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing?
We waited [qaveh] for peace, but nothing good came; And for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
We know our wickedness, O YHWH, the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You. Do not despise us, for Your own name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory; Remember and do not annul Your covenant with us.
Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O YHWH our God? Therefore we hope [wait] in You [un’qaveh-lak], for You are the one who has done all these things.
The Israelites were impatient and wanted to be winners over the Babylonians. They did not want to be rehabilitated losers, garnering spiritual and cultural strength out of adversity. But they acknowledged that only YHWH could give rain and grant showers. If God could get the waters to wait, they would have to wait too!
But waiting wouldn’t be easy. According to this infographic found at Digital Information World the human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish’s. Waiting has become almost painful for humans. If things don’t happen in an instant, they seem to take forever. Many times I’ve said to my Dad, “Patience is a virtue”, and he would respond, jokingly, “Patience is a waste of time”. But now it seems like this is no joke… waiting is equated with wasting time.
In our frustrations for having to wait, it certainly doesn’t make it easier when what we’re waiting for what appears to be the opposite of what we expect. Job, waited for good, but all he seemed to come across was evil:
“For I know that You will bring me to death and to the house of meeting for all living. Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, or in his disaster therefore cry out for help? Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
When I expected [waited: qivi’iti] good, then evil came; When I waited [expected/hoped] for light, then darkness came.
There are a few Hebrew words meaning “to wait”. There is qavah (which we’re focusing on here), yachal (an expectant, hopeful wait), chuwl (writhing, an anxious longing), and chakah (a long lasting desperate wait). These words are translated in a variety of ways: waited, looked, hoped, expected… and translators play very loosely with them, which gives some cause for confusion.
For Job all hope seems lost, but there was a reward for waiting… they would inherit the land God had set aside for them:
Psalm 37:9a, 34
But those who wait [w’qoweh] for YHWH, they will inherit the land….
…Wait [qaveh] for YHWH and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
They would inherit the sacred land of Israel, but it would not be a walk in the park. They would get the land and then be exiled from it, only to retrieve the land again, by the grace of God. The history of the Jewish people is all about a long wait… and sometimes they had to travel in darkness before they could find the light:
Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; We hope [wait: n’qaveh] for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.
All of us growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; We hope [wait: n’qaveh] for justice, but there is none, for salvation, but it is far from us.
The Hebrew people must have wanted revenge for all the hardships thrust upon their shoulders. But vengeance wasn’t theirs to dole out:
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for YHWH [qaveh YHWH], and He will save you.
We were not meant to wait for vengeance. We were meant to wait for salvation… and not just the chance for US to be saved, but rather salvation for everyone who sought it (including our enemies).
YHWH promised a Messiah… an anointed One who would save humanity.
Waiting for Salvation
The prophet Micah announced that the coming Messiah would be a Shepherd born in Bethlehem. But he also had something to say about waiting:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah. From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labour has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of YHWH, in the majesty of the name of YHWH His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod at its entrances; And He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he attacks our land and when he tramples our territory.
Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from YHWH, like showers on vegetation which do not wait [lo-y’qavah] for man or delay for the sons of men.
This great Messianic shepherd would be the One to bring peace and He would be great to the ends of the earth. He would be the valiant deliverer from our enemies. When all was said and done the remnant of Jacob would be like the waters in Genesis 1. They would rely on God to set plans in motion, not mankind.
Jacob was the first human in the Bible to announce that he would wait for YHWH’s salvation. It is the second time we come across this verb, to wait, in the Tanakh (Old Testament):
“For Your salvation I wait [qivi’iti], O YHWH” [li’shua’teka qiwi’iti YHWH].
Jacob recognized that humans had failed and that they needed the Salvation that only YHWH could provide. Jacob wasn’t waiting for judgement, he wasn’t waiting for riches, or revenge, or a better life… He was waiting for Salvation.
Biblical authors, throughout the Bible, focused on waiting for salvation. Even during the most dreadful times, the authors encouraged great hope in the God who would save them:
The YHWH’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
“YHWH is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
YHWH is good to those who wait [l’qowah] for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits [bears: w’yahil] silently for the salvation of YHWH.
But we don’t always silently bear the weight of waiting. It’s like the old, restless, phrase, “Are we there yet?”, which keeps rearing its ugly head. It was over a 500 year wait between the writings of Lamentation and the crucifixion of Yeshau. That’s a lesson in patience!
Jesus, for Whom we have Waited
The Hebrew people waited centuries for the Messiah. Simeon, a righteous and devout Jewish man, spent his whole life waiting for the Messiah:
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking [waiting] for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
People had been waiting so long for the Messiah that even John the Baptist was a bit wary of immediately accepting Jesus as the Messiah. He had heard the miraculous stories surrounding Yeshua of Nazareth but he needed to question him to make sure:
The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’”
Jesus, never one to give a direct answer, replied:
“Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who does not take offence at Me.” (John 7:22b-23).
Jesus, always reaching back to the Hebrew scriptures, was paraphrasing Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord YHWH is upon me, Because YHWH has anointed me [mashach] to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.
In other words, Jesus without directly saying it, announced Himself as YHWH’s Anointed One (Mashiach/Messiah). He was telling John that, yes, he was the One John had been waiting for. He was the Expected One.
Jesus would remove the veil between ourselves and God, and He would swallow up death, and consume our grief. His very name in Hebrew, Yeshua, meant “Salvation”. It was the perfect name for a saviour!
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord YHWH will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For YHWH has spoken.
And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited [qivi’nu] that He might save us. This is YHWH for whom we have waited [qivi’nu]; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Waiting for Redemption
Yeshua redeemed humanity, by suffering on the cross.
We are saved, and we are redeemed. To be redeemed is to be bought back. Jesus is our Saviour because He redeemed us. A thousand years before Jesus, the Psalmist had been waiting for YHWH’s redemption:
I wait [qivi’ti] for YHWH, my soul does wait [qiv’tah], and in His word do I hope. My soul [waits] for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in YHWH; For with YHWH there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Waiting for His Return
Yeshua, our Saviour and Redeemer was worth the wait, and upon His second return He would be worth the wait once again. Yeshua assured his followers that he wouldn’t leave them hanging. He’d be back to receive them and take them to the place he was preparing for them:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
In his letter to the Hebrews Paul made a very good point… the Messiah would come back a second time, but this time it would have nothing to do with wiping out sin (He did that already). This time He would be coming to save! Regardless of our sins, He would come to ALL who eagerly awaited his return.
So Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Until His return, however, we are left waiting. While we wait we must live our lives in the way God commanded us to. We are to seek God out, and we must show love to the poor, the widowed, the orphan and the foreigner. We must also love our neighbour, radiate kindness, and be champions of justice.
Therefore, return to your God. Observe kindness and justice, and wait [k’qaveh] for your God continually.
It can be exhausting to wait. I’ve often found that standing in a long line for the checkout counter is not just frustrating, it’s also energy-draining. But the prophet Isaiah noted that God, our Creator, does not get weary:
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, YHWH, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait [w’qo’wey] for YHWH will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
For those who wait for YHWH, and continuously seek Him, He will give them strength and a renewed energy to patiently walk in the way of God’s path:
The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.
Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O YHWH, we have waited for You [qivi’nu’ka] eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.
Is Jesus the desire of your soul? Are you eagerly waiting for Him? Psalm 27 is attributed to King David. All he wanted was to see YHWH’s goodness thrive in the land of the living. He left words of advice to all who read the poem:
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the YHWH in the land of the living. Wait for YHWH [qaveh el YHWH]; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for YHWH [w’qaveh el YHWH].
If you’re not waiting for YHWH, then what are you waiting for?
Next week: Wings