“And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.” – Jeremiah 32:33
You’ll find this same idea of God rising early in five other places in Jeremiah, picturing Him doing so, in order to speak and send, as well as teach, which this verse indicates. Of course, you and I know God doesn’t arise, because He never sleeps (Psl. 121:3), any more than He stopped His creative activities in Genesis because He was worn out and needed to “rest” (Gen. 2:2). So what is He saying to backslidden Israel by invoking these terms? In each case, you’ll find that He’s telling them, “I warned you way ahead of time, but you refused to heed my warnings.” What this says to me, as a New Testament believer, a Blood-bought child of God, is that God’s timing is impeccable.
If you’re anything like me, God’s care and provision are never in question. It’s His timing that sometimes wrenches our faith. Think of Mary and Lazarus’ sister, Martha, who never questioned that her brother would “rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” But she was pretty sure Jesus had missed the chance to make it happen before that (Jno. 11:21-24). “And as a matter of fact,” she pointed out to Jesus, “If you could have gotten here a little sooner, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
On the other hand, think of Paul, the Apostle, could have assumed that his deliverance from the prison in Philippi would be repeated in the Roman prison where he was then languishing, perhaps wondering each day, “Is this the day of deliverance?” Surely, now, when all the churches he had established were longing to see and hear him teach once again—now would have been the perfect time for God to restore him to active ministry. But I find nothing of this kind of brooding in his inspired words from that lonely dungeon cell in Philippi. On the contrary, his testimony was, “But I would have you understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philipp. 1:12). He refused to question God’s timing.
I’ve heard people say, “God came through in the nick of time”; but I submit, He isn’t just “in time, on time,” as the song says, He’s there ahead of time! That’s what He’s saying, when He pictures Himself as an early riser. In the morning, when I get up, He’s already there; when I face seemingly unbearable heartache, He’s waiting for me, with the means to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13); and when the brook has dried up and the ravens have all flown away, God is there with a barrel of meal that will never waste away (1 Kings 17). And, bless His Holy Name! when, as the old song says, “I come to the river at ending of day…there’ll be Somebody waiting to show me the way.” He won’t be there on time; He’ll be there ahead of time. Because my God is an Early Riser!