Friday, December 5, 2014

Hope and Future

Jeremiah was a prophet in 627 BC during Josiah’s reign as king of Judah. Because of unfaithfulness, the people were exiled to Babylon. But Jeremiah heard from God and wrote a letter to the exiled in chapter 29. “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you. For a hope and a future.” (v.11). What is hope? It is faith in the promise or certainty of a future full of the assurance of things hoped for the certainty of things unseen. Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint. It gives us confidence through the Holy Spirit built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness as one old hymn says.  Isaiah 40 tells us that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength and mount up on wings as eagles. What an image and promise.

A recent praise song, “With Everything”, the pre-chorus reads, “Let hope rise and darkness tremble in your holy light that every eye will see Jesus our God Great and mighty to be praised.” Yes, my hope is built on nothing less than your great love and righteousness is the ending of “My Hope” by Ed Kerr and Alyssa Mellinger.

Last week I led off a Bible study talking of the source of our hope based on Jeremiah’s words. Much of his book is filled with warning to the Israelites to return to faith and obedience to God’s word. The prophet and priest prophesied their exile and captivity, but he also heard the Lord say that he would be their Shepherd and re-gather them in safety after the judgment. In Jeremiah 29 we read of the plans the Lord has to prosper them for a hope and a future. But this is a conditional promise, one that requires them to pray with their whole hearts. God is talking about full submission and obedience. Then and only then would God return them from exile back to their homeland.

Christian hope is more than wishing. It is a certainty of God’s faithfulness through his Holy Spirit to be with us and within us until he returns and takes us to be where he is.  This is the last prophesy to be accomplished before the end. It is called the rapture. The “Left Behind” series spoke of this time articulated in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Our hope is ultimate and eternal, but that means we also have a basis for optimism every day even in discouraging times. Hebrews 6:19 tell us that, "The hope we have as an anchor of the soul,both sure and steadfast." Our hope is in the reality of the fast approaching Christmas season declaring the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. 

Now that is our hope, a certainty.

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