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There is Hope!
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a Story of Hope – It is HIStory – There is Hope, and His Name is Jesus.
Much of the Bible is presented in a narrative format, so that’s what we’re going to do today.
Our story begins, as most stories do, in the beginning.
“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). On the 6th day God created mankind – male and female created He them. And God blessed them. Everything was very good!
But Adam’s sin marred God’s creation. And what was once a land of light and life became a land of darkness and death. God did not, however, leave mankind without hope. No, quite the contrary, history is filled with hope, not an unfounded or frivolous longing, but a hope born of the promises of the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Amidst the judgment pronounced against Adam and Eve was a promise that the seed of the woman would crush the evil one who beguiled her. (Gen. 3:15) And so begins the account of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, born long ago and laid in a manger. Ah, but I get ahead of myself.
From that first promise, Time Passes – and we can’t stop to speak of Methuselah or Noah, or Shem, Ham, and Japheth. We must go on.
God calls a man named Abram from Ur of the Chaldees to go to a land that God himself would give to Abram and his descendants. God changed his name to Abraham and he, as good as dead, hoped against hope and the result of his faith was the birth of Isaac, the son of promise. His family has been called many names, the Hebrews, the Israelites, the Jewish people of today, and their land; the land of Abraham Isaac & Jacob; is the land of Israel; the Holy Land. God promised Abraham that his descendants would not only be like the sands of the seas and the stars of heaven, but that one of his descendants would be a blessing to the whole world.
Only a few years later, the promise is given to Abraham’s grandson, Judah, that from his family would come the one to reign over the people. But the children of Israel become enslaved in Egypt. And amidst the cries of sorrow, pain, and death, the Promised Redeemer does not come. And yet, there is still hope.
In time, God sends another man, Moses – he is the Deliverer – a type of Jesus Christ, sent by God to deliver His people. As one by one, miracle after miracle, the Egyptian gods are defeated and humiliated, the One True God, Creator of Heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, frees his people from enslavement in Egypt. They march triumphantly out of bondage toward the Promised Land. Many do not survive the journey. God did not fail; they failed to trust God and enter the land flowing with milk and honey. Consequently, all those 20-years-old and older, except Joshua and Caleb, are buried in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
With the nation of Israel firmly established in the land – the Holy Land. It is called that because God chose to dwell there. It was here in the land belonging to the tribe of Judah, a shepherd boy, David son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Salmon, son of Naasson, son of Aminadab, son of Aram, son of Esrom, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Adam, watches over the families flocks. He is a man after God’s own heart. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” he used to sing. This shepherd boy will stand before giants and kings and they will tremble because God is with him. God will make him king, bless him abundantly, and promise to give his descendants an everlasting throne. The son of David will be the King of kings. It was this same David who purchases the threshing floor of Aruna the Jebusite atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. It is there that his son Solomon will build the magnificent Temple of Yahweh. It is in this place that God chose to dwell and commune with mankind.
Civil war divides David’s once thriving kingdom. Amidst the turmoil and strife the Lord sends a message through Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel…God with us. Not long after, there is another prophecy,
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The Redeemer, Immanuel is coming – there is hope, but the people still await His arrival.
Our time still does not permit us to speak of the difficulties and hardships as the decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob turn away from God to Idols. Yet, there is still a remnant that cling to hope – hope in the One True God, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Alas, Israel, the northern portion of the divided kingdom falls to the forces of Assyria. And not many years hence, Nebuchadnezzar captures Jerusalem and destroys the Temple of Yahweh. The people are once again enslaved. They are led captive North to Babylon – among them are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You might know those last 3 better by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Only the poor and infirmed are left to care for the desolate land. And amidst the cries of sorrow, pain, and death, the Promised Redeemer does not come. Yet, there is still hope.
Almost 70 years later there in Babylon, Daniel the prophet bows before God confessing his sins and the sins of his people. They, like many of us, are a hard-hearted, stiff-necked people. Always running to God when there are problems, and running away when we think there are none. But God through Prophet Jeremiah foretold the captivity would soon be over. And yet the nation has not repented. As Daniel prays there stands a mighty warrior before him. Gabriel, the angel of the Lord brings good news. The Redeemer will come. 483 years from going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem, and He, Messiah the Prince will come. Daniel will be gone when the decree is issued – it is written in the Laws of the Medes and the Persians which cannot be broken. The Promised Redeemer has not come, but the clock is ticking. Hope grows closer.
Back in Jerusalem, amidst the rubble of Solomon’s once magnificent Temple of Yahweh stands a determined young man. Zerubbabel, son of Shealatiel, son of Jechoniah, son of Josiah, son of Amon, son of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, son of Joram, son of Jehosaphat, son of Asa, son of Abia, son of Rehaboam, son of Solomon, son of David, son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Salmon, son of Naasson, son of Aminadab, son of Aram, son of Esrom, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Adam. With determination, and divine intervention, under his leadership the children of Judah and Israel rebuild the Temple of Yahweh, the city of Jerusalem, and the land of their fore-fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promises never to forget Zerubbabel’s leadership in making it happen. Ezra returns to teach the people God’s Word. Nehemiah returns to build the wall – and by doing so, starts the countdown to the birth of the Messiah. When the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes, and subsequently the Roman legions, overrun their land, it is the promises of the One True God his people cling to amidst the cries of sorrow, pain, and death. Still the Promised Redeemer does not come, and yet, there is hope.
In fact, it has been almost 400 years since the close of the Old Testament Canon – since the Prophet Malachi told us God would send Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. This brings us to Some 2000+ years ago, about 1 ½ years before the birth of Jesus, here, in the city of Jerusalem, in the rebuilt Temple of Yahweh, Zechariah, a simple priest, is chosen by lot to offer prayers in the Holy Place. It is a sacred privilege. To stand before Yahweh and offer prayers on behalf of the nation of Israel is not something to be taken lightly. As he prays, he suddenly realizes that he is not alone. Another stands with him. He appears to have come from the Holy of Holies, from the presence of God himself. And his message is unbelievable. Reminiscent of Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who have never had children, would have a son in their old age and amazingly he would announce the coming of the Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind. They named him John, as the angel commanded.
Several months later that same angel – Gabriel is his name – stands before a frightened young woman in Nazareth. His message is shocking to say the least, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
As might be expected, Mary has questions. In the end her response is “Let it be to me according to your word.”
And true to God’s word, Mary is found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. It must have been difficult for Mary and Joseph to endure the jeers and stares of those who do not believe this child is of God.
Time Passes – but it is small compared to history.
Because of a Roman Census decreed by Caesar Augustus, Joseph and Mary must go to Bethlehem. They arrive before the birth of Mary’s child. “So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7) What an amazing night. This was not just any baby; this little boy is the Son of the Most High. They will name him Jesus for this child will be the Redeemer, the promised Messiah. In the fullness of time He came to save his people from their sins.
Nearby, in the fields of Bethlehem, there are shepherds keeping watch over their flocks this night. They too will have an unexpected angelic visitor.
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2: 10-14).
The story of hope does not end here with the coming of Immanuel, God with us. The Messiah has been born. But that is not all that must be done to bring hope.
Some 33 years later, this baby, Jesus, born of Mary in Bethlehem, the wife of Joseph the son of Jacob, son of Matthan, son of Eleazar, son of Eliud, son of Achim, son of Zadoc, son of Azor, son of Eliakim, son of Abihud, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealatiel, son of Jechoniah, son of Josiah, son of Amon, son of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, son of Jehoram, son of Jehosaphat, son of Asa, son of Abijah, son of Rehaboam, son of Solomon, son of David, son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Salmon, son of Naasson, son of Aminadab, son of Aram, son of Esrom, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Adam, Son of God would be crucified on a Roman cross, just outside of the city of Jerusalem, only a few miles North East of that manger where he was laid as a baby. And amidst the cries of sorrow, pain, and death, the world would know, the Redeemer has finally come!
Crucified, dead, and buried, Jesus does not stay in the tomb. He arose that first Easter Morning and is seated at the right hand of God the Father awaiting the command to catch His Bride, the Church, away from this world – and so shall we ever be with the Lord. It is the blessed hope of the Believer.
And one day, the whole world will sing Joy to the World. Jesus will return just as He promised,
The King of kings and Lord of lords will reign on the throne of David from Jerusalem. There is hope.
That brings us to the end of this volume.
Rev. 22:21 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
From beginning to end it is a Story of Hope – It is HIStory – There is Hope, and His Name is Jesus. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”