Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hope in the Prophets

Isaiah speaks of a great promise for those whose hope is in the Lord:
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”
(Isa 40:31).

With our hope set on Yahweh, who reconciled us to Himself whilst we were still His enemies, and who will bring in Justice and Righteousness to earth when Jesus Christ returns , then we will be strengthened, and will be enabled to press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

He makes it clear that the Gentiles are also to be included within His banner of hope:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

‘See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
(Isa 49:22-23).

God’s redemptive plan is not only for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but is to be extended to the Gentiles. All who hope in God for salvation will find He is able to meet their expectations, for the perfect sacrifice of Christ is more than sufficient for the purpose.

Following the exile of His people into Babylon, Yahweh promises they will be restored to the land, and that He will give them hope and a future in the land:
“When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jer 29:10-14).

This verse is often taken out of context and used as if it was talking about all Christians. However, in context it can be seen that it is referring specifically to the people of Israel and their possession of the land promised through the patriarchs. It is so encouraging to those of us who are Gentiles that the promises Yahweh made to the descendants of Abraham continue today and have not been revoked. If He continues to be faithful to the Jewish people, by restoring them to the land even in unbelief, then we can have faith that He will be faithful to the promises made to us through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah writing after the exile, in the midst of the disbelief of the people that Jerusalem has been taken by the Babylonians, dares to continue to hope in the Lord, because he knows the Lord is faithful:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young”
(Lam 3:19-27).
If we can call to mind the character of God through our suffering, His lovingkindness, His compassions, His faithfulness, His goodness, His salvation, this will surely help us to endure. Again, the importance of waiting quietly for the salvation of the Lord is stressed – all in His perfect timing. When we are assured of His character, we will find it easier to wait patiently.

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