Where Is The Hope I Need?

We read Scripture and want to be like this, don’t we? We want to be the ideal and perfect person we see there. We want to keep the laws immaculately, we want to be everything that God wants us to be, don’t we? But without exception our flesh is weak and alone we will never do it, and that repeated failure can create a hopeless feeling. We need help, and we need hope. 

Often people reminisce about years gone by and lament that they didn’t live in previous generations. Just think though, if we found ourselves living in yesteryear, in Old Testament times and under the Old Covenant, then we would be bound to keep laws that try as we might, we would never be able to keep. We would want to, so badly, but whilst the mind is willing, the flesh is so weak (Matthew 26.41). This Old Covenant, this old way of relating to God was rooted in what we needed to do; keep the laws, maintain righteousness (Deuteronomy 30.15-18, 1 Samuel 12.14-15).

The New Covenant, a new way of relating to God, was promised by Jeremiah and was brought into play by the death of Jesus (Jeremiah 31.31-33, Luke 22.20). It sits internally within us, it has the power to actually change you, but it is rooted externally. It no longer rests on you in order to be affective. Can you feel the burden lifted and the hope restored?

The hope we need is not found in anything we do,

in anything we can earn,

or in anything we deserve. 

The hope we need for the future is found in the promise and person of Jesus. He is the guarantor of this covenant, He promises better things for you;

Jesus promised rest (Matthew 11). Burdens are lifted at Calvary and hope came alive.

Jesus promised abundant to those who follow Him (John 10.10). Following Jesus brings us more spiritual fulfilment than we could have ever anticipated. We leave any traces of a boring, restless, unfulfilled life behind.

Jesus promised eternal life to those who trust Him (John 4.14). The Good Shepherd also promised to hold us securely.

Jesus promised that He will return for us (John 14.2-3). From then on, we will be with Him always.

No matter how many promises God has made, they are all yes and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1.20). 

Don’t look outwardly for hope as if it rests on circumstances, behaviour, or others. The world as we know it has just crumbled and melted away this past couple of months, hasn’t it? Everything we put stock in for contentment, fulfilment, or security has been found wanting. 

Don’t look inwardly as if it rests on you.

Where is the hope we all need? Look upwardly.

Whatever we are going through, no matter the circumstances, there is no greater hope for today and for the future than the hope found in Jesus.

There is no promise of a trouble free life, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. There will be hardship, there will be tough and troubling times, but, there is the promise that you will not go through it alone.

There is the promise that whatever you are going through, that He knows, that He cares, and that it is all working together to change you little by little more into the image of Himself.

The hope we need is found in the person and promises of Jesus. 

Replace // Revoke – Esther 8

We would be forgiven for thinking that now Haman is out of the way (7.10) that everything is going to be ok, but the decree to kill all of the Jews in the Empire is still valid (cf. 1.19) as we get into Esther 8. If you haven’t read the chapter recently, you can do so here

The honour given to Haman is bestowed on Mordecai, and the shame that was intended for Mordecai and his people found its way to Haman (vv.1-2). Esther is intense in her emotions as she approaches the King again (v.3), and the King states that the old letter and proclamation be replaced by a new (v.8). We see that the old directive cannot be revoked, but it can be replaced. There is an urgency with this new message (v.14), and the good news produces in God’s people light and gladness and joy and honour. These feelings came from the good news that God’s people would be able to take vengeance on their enemies, to triumph over their enemies, to gather and defend their lives.

Again when reading the book of Esther, even though not specifically mentioned by name or in Christian-ese terminology, we see a wonderful preview and picture of Jesus and the New Covenant that He came, lived, died, and rose to secure. The old letter from the King cannot be revoked, nor should it be really.

Once a Sovereign declares something, do we really want them to revoke and go back on their word? Would we take seriously a leader who says one thing, waits a while, then changes their mind? If this leader is wise, the first declaration will have been long thought-over and saturated with wisdom. When people in their fallen sinful humanity behave as such, is it right for that leader simply to revoke what they said? I think of that old phrase about the tail wagging the dog…

Rather, here we see that Xerxes stuck to his word, but also gave provision for the deliverance of the innocent (v.8). This is a wonderful preview of the Old and New Covenants. The Old was initiated in good faith, with good conscience, and with the intention of furthering the kingdom (3.8-11). Now, it is important to say that, obviously, Xerxes was deceived into making this agreement and did so not knowing the full picture, but, in principle, he thought he was acting in the best interests of his kingdom.

Likewise, the Old Covenant was given for the best interests of God’s Kingdom and His people. But, people being people, the sinful and fallen humanity twisted and broke this covenant to the point where a New Covenant was needed, one that sought to reestablish the original intention of the first, one that rested on a much more trustworthy person, and one that truly did seek what was best for God’s people.

How grateful we are that we live now under this New Covenant, that this New Covenant doesn’t rest on us to uphold it (for it would surely have been broken by now), and that this New Covenant truly does provide what is best for God’s people.

Amos 8.7-8 – Time: The Great Healer?

Often nowadays we see and hear things like this a lot, don’t we?

 

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Open up your preferred social media and it’s awash with motivational, comforting, or inspirational quotes like that; time is a great healer. I’d tend to agree with British songstress Adele who said

‘They say that time’s supposed to heal ya

But I ain’t done much healing.’

Today we see in Amos the alternative to time being a healer,

7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:

“Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

8 Shall not the land tremble on this account,

and everyone mourn who dwells in it,

and all of it rise like the Nile,

and be tossed about and sink again,

like the Nile of Egypt?”

So, time does not heal, God never forgets (Surely I will never forget any of their deeds), so just leaving something supposedly forgotten over time does not mean it will go away, time does not heal the problem sin causes in our lives.

Rather, we need to repent of it, turn from it, and seek genuine forgiveness and closure. That kind of process only comes from one place.

Under the Old Covenant that Amos and his readers lived, they were responsible for keeping the law, and the law kept a meticulous record of their shortcomings before the Lord and each other.

However, under the New Covenant that Jesus established, God still has the perfect memory (Hebrews 6.10), but only for the good we do under the banner of a believer in Jesus, so to speak (Jeremiah 31.31-33 cf. Hebrews 10.17).

Point to ponder today –

Under the New Covenant God remembers our lawless deeds no more, but does remember the good we do in love for Him and for others. If we reject this, His memory is as sharp as a tack and will include each and every time we distanced ourselves from Him through sin.