God’s great leaders have often had to go through a mean-time between the time of God’s promises and the fulfillment of them.
Like Moses, for example. God told Him to go back to Egypt and deliver His people from Pharaoh’s bondage. So he did what God said. But in the process, there came a time when Pharaoh just made the bondage harder. So hard, in fact, that the people could not do all that he required of them.
So, the Israeli foremen came to Moses and Aaron and said: “The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharoah, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, ‘Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all,’” Exodus 5:21-23 KJV.
The Lord answered Moses, rehearsing His promise, which Moses repeated to the people. “But they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage,” Exodus 6:9.
Yet, Moses continued to seek the Lord and to follow His guidance. And God gave Pharaoh a series of opportunities to let the people go, but he hardened his heart and refused, and continued to oppress the people.
This was the mean-time.
But that time passed. In this time God gave them the ordinance of the Passover and specific instructions as to preparing for their deliverance. “Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies,” Exodus 12:50-51.
But God had also promised to bring them into the good land of Canaan. Throughout the wilderness journey and the subsequent conquest of Canaan, they suffered many trials, temptations, dangers and hardships.
This was another mean-time.
But finally His promise came to pass and Joshua said: “And behold this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof,” Joshua 23:14.
The Example of David:
Another example is David. He had been anointed King of Israel, but then endured much hardship, opposition, trials and temptation. At one point when his army was returning to Ziklag where they had left their stuff and their women, they found that the Amalekites had burned it and had taken their women captive. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God,” I Samuel 30:6.
This was the mean-time.
David pursued the Amalekites: “And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives, and there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons, nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all,” I Samuel 30:18-19.
But yet another long period of strife followed, another mean-time.
At last David was anointed King over the house of Judah, 2 Samuel 2:4. And another mean-time followed before he was also anointed as King of all Israel, 2 Samuel 5:3-5.
Finally, God spoke to David and promised him an everlasting kingdom, 2 Samuel chapter 7.
Another very long mean-time came to pass.
Then the Angel came to Mary, announcing to her that she was to have a Son: “And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end,” Luke 1:31-33.
And Mary, in her glorious Magnificat said: “He [the Lord] hath holpen His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy; As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever,” Luke 1:54-55.
And Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, rejoiced saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed His people, And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy Covenant; the oath which He swore to our father Abraham,” Luke 1:68-73.
The example of John the Baptist
And indeed John the Baptist grew up and began to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, and even baptized Jesus at which time: “It came to pass that Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased,” Luke3, 21-22.
But in the “Mean-time”
Herod shut up John in prison, and John sent his disciples to enquire of Jesus whether or not He was truly the Messiah. Jesus answer was to show John that He was fulfilling the prophecies. And Jesus witnessed to the anointing that was upon John the Baptist, Luke 7:19-29.
And yet, for John, there was another “Mean-time,” in which he was beheaded at the whim of a lecherous old king and a conniving woman, Matthew 14:6-12.
The Example of the Disciples
Jesus’ disciples had followed Him throughout His ministry, witnessing the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the miracles of feeding the thousands, stilling the storms, cursing the fig tree. They were totally convinced that He was the promised Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Yet, they saw Him crucified and buried, John 19:23-42. It was surely over. Surely they had been mistaken.
In the Mean-time, for three days, they went into hiding.
But then, the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to them in their hiding place and they were ecstatic with joy, being reminded of the fact that He had told them this was going to happen, John 20:19-25.
However, Thomas was not with them. When they told him about it, he didn’t believe them saying: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe,” John 20:25.
So Thomas went through eight more days of Mean-time.
But after the eight days, the disciples met again and Thomas was with them. And sure enough, Jesus appeared in their midst and said to Thomas: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless but believing,” verse 27.
Thomas’ Mean-time was over. He believed.
Jesus said: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” And this is what the “Mean-times” are about: that we might have faith and not waver in our belief.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1.
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls,” I Peter 1:5-9.
The Mean-times are worth it all!