Recently, we finished up a 6-message Wednesday night series that focused on worship scenes which take place in the Book of Revelation. That series (along with all other series & sermons) can be accessed in the free Transforming Truth App for anyone who wishes to watch or listen to them. This morning, I solidified our next midweek series, and I got a surge of excitement about beginning it next Wednesday night at New Bridge Church. We are going to spend several weeks in a series called “How God Works With You”. This unspectacular series title 🙂 will feature multiple messages about “the ways of God”, particularly how it is crucial that we remember always that He does not operate as we do. He expects us to learn His character, trust His wisdom, and commit to His plans. Most of the time, when a person enters this process with Him, they will come to a crossroads where God’s present ways in that person’s life make very little sense. I do not have to ask you if you have ever lived out a season like that. I already know that the answer is yes.
Here are a couple of thoughts about one of these areas where God’s ways can confuse us. This particular lesson took me many years to learn as a believer, a husband, a dad, and a pastor. God does not always grant me the breakthroughs that I need on the schedule with which I am convinced He needs to operate. Why do our breakthroughs sometimes tarry? Let’s read Exodus 23:27-31 to learn some of how God works with you.
“I will send My terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. 31 And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.” – Exodus 23:27-31
God’s Powerful Determination (27) – “I will send My terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.”
This verse contains “the what” of God’s plan and promise to Israel. God was going to give them breakthrough against their enemies as they moved into the land of promise. He was going to bless them. He would fight for them. He would put down their foes. What a great word to receive from God! He was telling His children that He was advancing them into breakthrough victory. They were moving forward with Him, and He was promising them breakthrough victory.
God’s Precise Details (28) – “And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.”
After telling His children what He would do for them in verse 27, God now tells them a little bit of “the how”. All of their enemies were more powerful than Israel. God told Israel on more than one occasion that Israel was not strong, impressive or intimidating. In fact, God characterized them as small and weak on their own. So, before they could give in to their fears and insecurities, God tells His children that the big, bad enemies would be defeated in an utterly humiliating way. The Lord of nature would bring the enemy into submission via stingers. He would battle with bees. Israel’s opposition would be hounded by hornets. What we learn from this statement from God is that He does not accomplish His plans according to humanly reasonable means. Who of us would have chosen insects to drive out the fearsome Canaanites? God was teaching Israel again that His ways are higher than their ways. We must remember that God has not run out of creative means to bring our breakthroughs to us either. He has ideas that would never occur to you. He likes to humble us by showing us that He can get things done in an unorthodox manner.
God’s Purposeful Delays (29) – “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you.”
Now here comes the hard part that you really must allow to soak in to your spirit. God was not going to give Israel an insta-fix to secure their breakthrough. He told them at the beginning that their victory was going to materialize incrementally. Yes, God makes His children wait for some of the most intense and necessary events in their lives. He also reveals to us “the why” of our breakthroughs sometimes tarrying. He told Israel that, if He destroyed all of their human enemies in an instant, then the unpopulated land would end up being overrun with animals which would act in predatory attack against the people of Israel. If all of the human opposition was wiped out in an instant, the attacks from a different source would be too much for them. This is a huge Kingdom principle for us to learn! God is not only working on the need you are currently aware of, He is simultaneously working on the future needs you are ignorant of. We think He is not working at all sometimes, when the reality is that He is working on multiple levels at the same time, which leaves us feeling that He is going way too slow. We fixate on the need for breakthrough in the matter right in front of us, yet while God is also working intentionally on that matter, He is also connecting it to what your need will be after that challenge yields to breakthrough. Get this: God is not slow or slack – He is thorough. Sometimes your breakthrough tarries because you are not yet ready for what follows that breakthrough. He does not want you to experience instant breakthrough, only to fall prey to what that breakthrough brings to your front door. He will leave your opposition active longer than you desire because He will not allow your “land to become desolate”. Yes, God wants you free…but He also wants you fruitful. When our victories do not come quickly, God is ensuring that you and I remain fruitful. The delay is actually the garden where the fruit roots down and grows. Apart from some delays, what we think is a blessing could result in an eventual curse upon us. God is ensuring that the blessing of breakthrough does not become an unfruitful desolation to us, leaving us vulnerable to attacks from different sources. Herein is the most important part of the lesson that these verses from Exodus 23 reveal to us.
In my next post, I will cover the final two verses in this chapter. In the meantime, take deep courage that God’s delay in your breakthrough is not a dismissal of your need. He is setting you up for a healthy, lasting, fruitful victory. He knows what you need right now, but He also knows what you are going to need next. That is why He does not always work in the timeline we have desired. Can you praise Him for the wisdom He is employing on your behalf? Will you thank Him today for taking the time to ensure that your victory is lasting? Give Him the glory, friend, for He knows exactly what you truly need.