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A Future Hope

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

          It is wonderful to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title for the lesson is “A Future Hope.”  And our primary text is taken from Proverbs in the Old Testament the book of Proverbs chapter 23 verses 17 through 18.  Please listen to the Word of God.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

 This is the Word of God.

          I recently scanned the “Word and Work” (print copy) magazine for ideas regarding our future Christian hope.  A worldwide pandemic and forecasts of a probable economic meltdown and the like have shaken even the most optimistic among us regarding our future.

          I did find a ‘Word and Work’ magazine issue dated November-December 1989 helpful.  Editor Brother Alex Wilson in his theme editorial regarding “Christians and the Future” wrote:

       “Wrong attitudes to Avoid”

# 1 Boasting about the future: smug self-confidence; thinking we have a handle on all that lies ahead and need no help from the Lord.  This is a wrong attitude that must be avoided.  Consider James chapter 4 and verses 13 through 17 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and does not do it, sins.”

      Let us apply.  No one on earth even remotely suspected that a pandemic would occur affecting just about everybody, disrupting our lives, and sadly causing so very many deaths.  Probably there was boasting ‘that its business as usual for me, that the virus won’t impact me. Obviously, it has and continues to do so.

      #2 From Alex Wilson another thing we should avoid is worry about the future: This is the opposite mistake – feeling that even our Lord has no control over what’s coming up, that there is nobody at the helm of history.  But Jesus tells us, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow.’  Matthew chapter 6 verse 25 and following “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
      “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

      Brother Wilson continues: God is our Heavenly Father (so he loves us): he has a kingdom (so he must be a King) and He is righteous, ‘He has’ righteousness (so He must be good).  Therefore, don’t be anxious but put His kingdom and righteousness first, and trust Him for what we need.

      Let’s make personal application.  How trusting in the Lord have we been in the last few months?  How deep has been our anxiousness?  Things to think about, things to pray about.

      I have adapted some of Brother Wilson’s further points.

Some believe that today in our modern technologically advanced societies that worldwide impacted pestilences were only pandemic or worldwide in the past, not to be problematic today or into the future.

      Consider the words of Jesus written some 2000 years ago Luke chapter 21 verses 10 through 11 “Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” So, these are prophecies not just all fulfilled in our past but are still being fulfilled in our day and even into the future.

      Yet personal, passive fatalism regarding the general worsening of this world physically, economically, and spiritually is not God’s will either.  Things can change for us individually or even nationally for a season.

       Consider the words of God through His prophet Jeramiah in Jeramiah chapter 18 and verses 7 though 10 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”   We should understand that God did not necessarily initiate our today’s pestilence, but he has allowed it.

       Yet we should never forget that individual and corporate repentance of sin is very, very much approved by God and He can relent regarding any and all calamity if it is His will.

       Also consider, for example, Second Kings chapter 20 verses 1 through 6 “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
      Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”

       We should never forget that fervent prayer, and faithfulness to the LORD with wholehearted devotion always counts greatly with our God.  Fatalism is not God’s way for us as believers. It is our choice to genuinely trust and obey or to succumb to unfaithfulness and apathy.  When we look at a rose bush do, we see only thorns, or do we see the roses also?

      This world in a general sense will largely deteriorate in every way.  That however should not tarnish our trust in our Lord nor our hope today and into the future.

     Things are getting worse AIDS, Ebola, and the Swine Flu affected only segments of society or certain places.  However, Coronavirus 19 has affected and infected the whole world.

       Scripture affirms continued troubles.  First Timothy chapter 4 verse 1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

       Also consider Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 through 5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

      These type conditions have been regularly active with fallen, sinful mankind but they will continue to  accelerate and worsen according to scripture.  That does not mean that we need be in that number.

       As Christians we should not be totally pessimistic about the future.  There is much for those in Christ, to be not just optimistic but even joyful for the future.

       We have wise counsel for believers from the Old Testament.  Proverbs chapter 23 verses 17 and 18 “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.  There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”  This could be applied to believers today also.

       Meaning some may be tempted to envy sinners because their godless lifestyle seems to be only prosperity and pleasure.  But this is temporary only.  God will judge them if they do not repent and receive Christ through genuine faith.

       As believers we must continue to be zealous in or reverential awe and obedience towards our Lord.  Through persevering faith, we will one day enjoy an eternity with God by His grace, and Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the altar of the cross on our behalf.  In Christ, we are guaranteed, in Christ, a glorious future; we are promised a hope that will not be cut off!  And one day hope will be taken away because it will be fulfilled, we will no longer need to hope.

    And it is not a shallow hope but a promised blessed hope by God!

Consider in the New Testament book of Titus chapter 2 verse 13 “While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  That is Jesus face to face!  For believers to be in awe of.

       Our hope is a continual looking forward in this life to God’s eternal kingdom, in the new heaven and the new earth in order for us to recognize that eternity will be joy, joy unimagined.

John Bunyan, a Christian writer of classics wrote: “Hope is never ill when faith is well.”

     Let us always strive to keep both our faith and hope healthy and active in our hearts, minds, and wills.

     God will ultimately take care of all of His people.  Whether Old Testament saint, whether New Testament saints or the tribulation saints, whether millennial saints we will all ultimately rejoice in our Lord together. 

 

David Johnson is Minister of Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4