The Hope Part V

Hope in the Old Testament

God has always given people Hope.  After the fall of man in Genesis, the promise of the coming Seed, man's Redeemer, was given:

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

For the believers before the birth of Jesus Christ, their hope was the birth of the son of God, the Messiah, and the deliverance that he would bring.  He would remove sin, sickness, death, and establish Paradise once again.

Luke 4:16-21

And he [Jesus Christ] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.  And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

The believers looked for and believed unto the first coming, they looked for the new city from God and a new heaven and earth.

Revelation 21:1, 2

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first [former] heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith [believing] Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

By faith [believing] he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The Old Testament believers had another wonderful promise to them, eternal life:

John 6:51-54

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Acts 24:15

And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Luke 14:14

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Why hope?  Because hope brings joy, it inspires us to believe, to endure, to go forth and bless others.  God, our Heavenly Father, does not want our lives to be one of oppressive obedience.  Yes, there will be unpleasant challenges, but if we believe we can rise above them.

Even if there was no hope, having the power of God to believe each day would be its own reward.  But God has always given hope.  The clearer we understand and the more often we think of the hope, the more enthusiastic our believing, the stronger our endurance, and the bigger our daily joy will be.

Abraham is referred to the "father of all them that believe".  He believed God on many occasions, and he never lost sight of the hope of Jesus Christ's coming.

John 8:56

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my [Jesus Christ is speaking] day: and he saw it, and was glad.

This word for "glad" is the same Greek word translated "rejoice" in Romans 12:12, "Rejoicing in hope...".

The word "glad" in John 8:56 is translated "exceeding glad" in Matthew 5:12, referring to future rewards, which are also part of hope:  "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven...".

Before coming into a knowledge of God's Word, many of us knew what it is like to wake up in the morning and say to ourselves "what's the point?".  With God our lives have a point. We are sons and daughters, He loves us, and we have the word and the ministry to walk in power here on earth and to help others.  And at the end of it all we have eternal life!

Except for those believers who were alive when Jesus Christ was, Old Testament believers never saw the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus Christ's coming.  Yet the believers stayed faithful!

How did Moses, who grew up in Pharoah's household, who lived in the wilderness for 40 years, who was then called by God to return and lead the Hebrews out of Egypt (some scholars estimate their population around 2 million), who was continually having to tolerate those among them who wanted to return to Egypt -- deal with it all?

Hebrews 11:24-27

By faith [believing] Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

By faith [believing] he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

The Murdock translation of Hebrews 11:27 reads, "...and he continued to hope, just as if he saw the invisible God."

Had he not kept his focus on the hope, the promise of the coming Messiah, Moses would not have lasted all those years in the wilderness.  His believing would have had no foundation, and his believing (translated "faith" in Hebrews 11) is what enabled Moses to do the mighty deeds that he did to deliver God's people.

Hebrews 11 records names of some of the believers in the Old Testament, and when I say "believers" I mean those that believed God's promises, particularly the promise of the coming of Jesus Christ.  These were men and women who stood faithful, regardless of personal difficulties, oppression, or what was considered "politically correct":

Hebrews 11:32-39

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Who through faith [believing] subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith [believing], received not the promise:

These believers stood fast because they had the hope.  They never lived to see the Messiah yet they died knowing that one day they would be part of the resurrection unto life and they would enjoy the many benefits that the hope would bring.

And yet, Hebrews 11:40 says "God having provided some better thing for us...".   For us today, after the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the gift of holy spirit in Acts chapter 2, for those of us who have received the promise -- how big and how alive should the hope be in our hearts and minds?  Certainly no less than these wonderful believers in Hebrews 11.

Part IV | Part VI