Friday, November 16, 2012

A Month of Thanks: Hope and the Old Testament

In the very worldly sense of the word, November is a month of hope. We sit around, hoping someone makes our favorite dish at Thanksgiving--hoping that our candidate is picked for President--hoping that we get what we put on our Christmas list. Really, we're wishing. We're crossing our fingers and thinking that maybe, if we're lucky, our wish will come true.

Biblical hope isn't a wish; it is an expectation.  Psalm 119:166 says, "Lord, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments." The psalmist isn't wishing for salvation. On the contrary, the psalmist is confident in the salvation that God has promised to the faithful. Why is he doing the commandments of God? Because he knows that God will give eternal life to the one who keeps His commands. Again let me emphasize that biblical hope isn't a wish--it's an expectation. 

Proverbs 10:28 tells us this: "The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish." When we die, if we're been faithful to God, our hope will be realized and we will be glad. We will have attained our salvation and we will be eternally joyful. On the other hand, if we are not faithful to the Lord, we cannot have such an expectation. The wicked will perish. If you are choosing to live outside of God's commandments, you are choosing to expect (hope for) torment when you die. 

I know that I've been pulling our 'hope' verses from the Old Testament, so let's use one from the New, shall we? Romans 15:4 tells us, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." The reason that we still use (and love) the Old Testament today is not because its laws and precepts are binding, but because we can draw lessons and hope from the text. I, for one, fall more in love with God when I read about Him in the Old Testament. When I see, through the minor prophets, His love for His people and His pleading for them to return to Him. And, as we see in Romans, one of the reasons we can even have hope (an expectation to live with God one day) is because of what the Old Testament teaches us about His love for us and His plan for us. 

So today, I am thankful for the Old Testament. I am thankful for the stories of old and their relevance to my life today. I am thankful for the psalms and their comfort; for the proverbs and their wisdom. I am thankful for the account of the life of David and his beautiful heart, and the account of Abraham and his faithfulness. I am thankful that I can read about God's love for His chosen people, and realize that He's chosen me (1 Pet. 2:9). 

However, I am also thankful for the hope that the Old Testament provides. I am thankful for all of the promises God has made to us that He has already fulfilled, such as the promise to send a Savior to heal mankind once and for all. And, because He has made good on some of His "big" promises already, I can be all the more confident that He will deliver me when this life is over. 

We can go to heaven and we can know that we are going. We, like the psalmist, can have a hope in God's salvation. Ephesians 2:12 says, "that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." If you are without Christ, you are without hope. If you don't have this kind of hope...this kind of assurance in your soul's final to me. I'd love to share with you how I know and how you can, too. 

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