A Promise of a Better Kingdom

Zechariah 2:10-12

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”

To the Jew of the sixth century BC, the return of Judah from Babylonian captivity was a major event. It must also have been loaded with questions. Now that God has judged us for our sin and returned us to our land, what should we expect? Will Messiah come and make us a political power? Is the promise still alive? What does it look like?

Here in Zechariah, we see some glorious truths of the promise of God that were made under the Old Covenant but which can only be fulfilled by the establishment of the New Covenant. Notice how God speaks of what will occur beyond the physical return of exiles to Jerusalem. It is cause for joy. God will dwell in the midst of his people. That is bigger and better than even the Old Testament experience of the Jews with the temple or the tabernacle. While those edifices symbolized the presence of God, their walls were there to tell the people that there must be a separation between the Lord and them, a boundary that the people cannot cross. This dwelling in their midst promised in Zechariah sounds bigger and better.

Verse 11 points to the fact that God will gather to himself more than the Jews. Yes, the Jews who trust in him will be included. But God is gathering for himself a people out of all the nations. Again and again, as God makes his ultimate promises, he points to the building of a new people of God, one not determined by ethnicity but by faith.

In verse 12, we see the Lord taking Judah and Jerusalem for himself. Something about this promise of God will include God in Jerusalem accomplishing his kingdom purposes. The place where the temple stood, the place where David ruled, that place will be the great launching point of the blessing of God.

If we put this all together, we see the gospel in sign form. On the surface, this looks like a major promise of blessing on Jerusalem—and it may be that. But well beyond blessing the city, God is going to accomplish his eternal purpose. Jesus, the Son of God, will come into Jerusalem declaring himself King. Jesus will bring to God a nation made up of people from all nations. There will be rejoicing and blessing for the people, as god will live in the midst of his people in a way never before experienced in Israel. The Spirit of God who came to his church in Acts 2 is the better fulfillment of the promise of God dwelling among his people. And, by grace, we also look forward to the day of Christ’s return when God will dwell in our midst both physically and spiritually forever.

Tinkering with Typology in Zechariah

Zechariah 2:1-5

1 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” 3 And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him 4 and said to him, “Run, say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. 5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ”

Prophetic promises in the Old Covenant often carry with them something far greater than they appear to promise. The promises are sometimes pictures foreshadowing that which is to come. When this is the case, we call them types, a theological word for something that points to something else, its antitype.

I recently heard Sam Renihan present three truths about biblical types. A type in the Old Testament includes analogy, escalation, and otherness. Analogy is that element of the type that helps us to have a depiction of what is to come. So, as an example, a sacrificial lamb is analogous of Christ, because the lamb’s blood is shed for the sins of others. Once one sees the Christ to whom the lamb points, it is not hard to imagine how the lamb is analogous, a picture, of the Savior.

Escalation indicates that the antitype is always something greater than the type. No shadow is as great as the substance being shadowed. The sacrificial lamb in an Old Covenant blood sacrifice is nothing near as great as the shed blood of the Son of Almighty God. The fulfillment is always greater.

Otherness indicates that the fulfillment of the type is not merely a bigger experience of exactly the same thing. The type depicts something that has in itself a true difference from the sign that pointed to it. Jesus is not a physical lamb. Instead, Jesus is God who took on human flesh. Jesus is not just a bigger and better sacrificial animal; Jesus is something altogether different, altogether other, altogether greater. The death and resurrection of Jesus does not bring about momentary forgiveness with a requirement of sacrificial repetition, but instead grants eternal, once-and-for-all forgiveness to the believer by grace through faith.

If we are to see the glory in many events and promises in the Old Testament, we need to grasp that many of these are also analogies the fulfillments of which are truths that are both greater and other than the signs. Take Israel in the Exodus as an example. God pulls a single people group out of physical slavery in Egypt. This is a sign that points forward to God, in Christ, rescuing (analogy) a multiethnic people (escalation) from slavery to sin and death (otherness).

Thinking these things through helps me to rejoice in the prophecy that I cite above from Zechariah 2:1-5. In a vision—which helps us to expect typology—a man goes to measure Jerusalem. An angel sends a message to tell the man that the city will be inhabited by so many people that it will be like an unwalled village with God himself as its protection. What do we do with this promise?

In an immediate application, the people of Zechariah’s day should have seen a promise from God of provision and protection. The people were not to underestimate the Lord’s ability to restore and rebuild. They should not assume that God’s ability to accomplish his will is something they could encompass with the measure of their own expectations. God is greater and will do greater things than they imagine. And God will surely accomplish his plan with Jerusalem.

Has this promise come to pass? Certainly God restored Jerusalem and kept the city whole until the arrival of Messiah. But, when we see the grand expanse of the promise, it is a promise that has not yet come to pass in a literal and physical sense. The fulfillment of this promise requires a time in which God makes Jerusalem a great city over which he personally stands guard. Because of this, many expect this to literally be what will come after the return of Christ but before the eternal state, a millennial Jerusalem under the rule of Christ.

For the pre-millennial thinker, the promise of a vastly expanded and supernaturally ruled Jerusalem as the city ruled by Jesus who will be physically present during a thousand-year reign. For those who hold to other eschatological positions, this promise is either something that is yet to be literally fulfilled or something that will be figuratively accomplished. Without attempting to argue for an eschatological millennial position, I want to suggest that it is possible that this prophecy offers us something more, a typological promise that is glorious.

What would applying our grasp of types and antitypes tell us about this promise. The shadow is a promise that God will preserve Jerusalem, fill it with many people, and protect it. If this is typology, then this is an analogy for something else, something similar but greater. Might it not in fact be God using the city of Jerusalem and promises relating to it as analogous promises of what God will do with his people as a whole? After all, Galatians 4:26 refers to “the Jerusalem above,” while Hebrews 12:26 mentions “the heavenly Jerusalem,” something greater than the earthly capital city of physical Israel. We see something very similar as we look at all the symbolism connected to the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. It is not hard to imagine a biblical analogy of a promise to a city being a promise that will actually be for all the people of God.

How then is there an escalation? The promise is that God will bring lots of people, presumably Jews, to Jerusalem, so many that it will spread beyond its boundaries. What does God actually do? God saves a people for himself out of every nation, not Jews only, and they spread over the entire globe. This is escalation in multiple ways. The globe is greater than the city. The multiethnic kingdom of God is greater than monoethnic Judea. The protecting presence of the Spirit of God over his people is greater than God simply being a wall to a city.

And otherness is easy to grasp. The promises made here talk about God preserving a city. But the actual promise fulfillment is other. The fulfillment, which is greater and better, has to do with the salvation of god’s people and the establishing of his kingdom in Christ forever.

While many people will interpret this passage as a literal future promise for a literal city in a singular geographical location—and that is certainly possible—I believe that we can see even more. We have reason to see this as a type. The fulfillment of this type is analogous, greater, and other. The promise is for a city. The fulfillment is the Kingdom of God in Christ. The promise is physical safety. The fulfillment is eternal life and spiritual salvation. The promise is for a single people group. The Fulfillment is for people from all nations in Christ.

And, if a typological take on this passage is correct, we can cling to this promise with hope and joy. We may think we can measure what God will do. WE cannot. We may look for earthly protection, but God has something greater for us. God will save a multitude of people for himself from all nations, expanding beyond the bounds of many people’s imagination. God will be in his people, giving his Spirit to protect us and show us his glory. For sure, eventually, there will be a day when the Lord Jesus physically reigns on this earth, and all will be made right. This prophecy certainly may be pointing us in that direction too. But even before we see that take place, The fulfillment of this type is something we can experience and rejoice in because of the mystery of Christ now made known in the gospel.

Our Hope to Come

Revelation 7:13-17

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;

the sun shall not strike them,

nor any scorching heat.

17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Where is your hope? For many Christians, especially we who live in the west, our hope is not in the right place. Is your hope in the government of the US? Is your hope in your ability to financially plan for the future? Is your hope in your health? Is your hope in entertainment? Is your hope in your children and their success?

The book of revelation refers to the time in which we live as a time of tribulation (note that John calls himself our partner in tribulation in1:9). And while it may in fact point to a season of intense hardship to come, nothing about this book indicates that we live free from tribulation, free from pressure, free from pain in any age before Christ returns. In chapter 6, with the opening of the seals, we saw a set of hardships that, while terrible, have marked the history of the church from Jesus’ day until now without much of a break.

Chapter 7 then uses a fascinating technique to give us hope. The chapter opens with the sealing, the preservation, of the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel. But something is odd about the list—it is not an accurate tribal list as it leaves out Dan and includes Joseph (v. 8) and Manasseh (v. 6.) though Manasseh is a subset of Joseph. John hears of this sealing of the tribes of Israel, but when he looks he sees a greater reality. John looks and sees a countless multitude from all nations, not merely from physical Israel. John sees that Israel here is the multitude of the saved of all ages regardless of their ethnicity.

Then one of the elders asks John just who this group is, this great multitude of people worshipping God in white robes. And we learn some beautiful things. These are the saved, washed in the blood of the Lamb. And they have a future, a hope, that is far greater than any hope anyone has ever imagined.

In verse 15, the saved are before the throne of God and serve him in his temple. As we watch Revelation unfold, we will find that the temple of God is going to be the whole world made new by the Lord. In Genesis, Eden possessed many features of a temple. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple actually were smaller temples, walled off places designed to keep sinful humanity out of the presence of the Lord. But in Revelation, God lifts the curse, completes his holy plan, and brings all of his children into his holy presence to glorify his name forever.

The saved serving God will be sheltered by him (v. 15) and will have his protection from the hardships of this fallen world. There will be no harmful hunger or thirst. The people of God will need no shelter from the elements (v. 16).

In verse 17, we see that the saved will be led by the Lamb, provided for as by the Good Shepherd, brought to springs of living water, and comforted. What a glorious thing to see that the Lord himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. God will comfort us and grant us joy that outweighs any pain, any hardship, any hurt we have ever experienced.

Our hope, believers, is in the victory of Christ. Our hope is not in American ingenuity. Our hope is not in medical breakthroughs. Our hope is not in the joy of a victorious sports franchise. Neither is our hope in having enough money to take that dream vacation, build that dream home, or buy that dream automobile. Our hope is not in preserving the environment or cleaning up the Internet. Our hope is, it must be, in the promise of the Lord of this kingdom to come. Our hope is in coming to Christ, finding forgiveness in his blood, being granted his imputed righteousness, and living forever as priests in his temple.

The Mistakes of Mrs. Job

Job 2:6, 9-10
6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

The account of Job and his suffering is something that is familiar to most believers. The Lord allowed Job to go through great suffering as a testament to the glory and faithfulness of the Lord. And this kind of experience is something we can sometimes struggle to understand, especially when we suffer in our land.

Two things get my attention as I look at what happened in Job 2. First, as people often point out, God is in control. When the devil challenged the Lord, God prescribed his boundaries. Satan had no ability to go one inch further than the Lord allowed. In verse 6, God said the devil was not allowed to take Job’s life.

In verses 9 and 10, we see the conversation between Job and his wife. Often when I have read it, I have thought of Mrs. Job as another form of persecution for the Old Testament saint. Today, however, I hear the words of Job’s wife as something pretty familiar. She faces hardship in the life of someone she loves, and she despairs. Mrs. Job loses her way, stops trusting God in her circumstances, and fails. And her failure is not something we only see in her.

Today, there are many in our world who would curse God for the hardships we face. Many would suggest that, if God does not manage the world in a way they understand and approve, they should be free to curse God and do things their own way. We see this in those who demand the right to sin in order to exact the justice they desire. We see this in those who say they will never follow God if he allows tragedies like natural disasters and school shootings. We see this in those who refuse to worship God in his commanded ways if his limitations do not allow for women in the pulpit or a redefinition of marriage.

In point of fact, Mrs. Job’s counsel to curse God and die is not foreign to us. Yes, it’s pitiful, but it is not strange. And her failure is born out of two problems in thought. First, Job’s wife has forgotten that this universe exists first and foremost for the glory of the Almighty. As she watches her husband suffer so greatly, as she faces the loss of so many and so much that was dear to her, she fails to set in her heart that God is the highest purpose and most valuable being there is.

Second, Job’s wife has taken her eyes off of eternity. She has forgotten that whatever we go through in the here and now is brief, infinitesimally brief, when compared to the forever that people will spend in the presence of the Lord. Yes, Job suffered. Yes, his wife suffered. But that suffering will only last a moment.

As we look at a world with terrible hardships all around us, may we not make the mistakes of Mrs. Job. May we remember that God is in control. May we remember that God’s glory is the highest good. And May we remember that we are not living in this broken life forever. There is an eternity ahead of us where we will glorify and be comforted by the God who made us if we find ourselves under his grace through Jesus. .

Do Not Ignore This Hope

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 – 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

Discussions of the future among Christians can be fascinating. Sometimes we find a group of Christians in a friendly debate over the millennium. Other times we find people breaking fellowship over differences in expectation of the order of future events. Sometimes there is sweetness. Sometimes there is mockery. .

Sadly, I believe that the ugliness of attitude that we see in some has made others unwilling to look to the future as much as Scripture does. That is a loss. To ignore the word of God’s promises for what is to come is to rob yourself of comforts that God intends you to have.

Consider the passage above. God makes beautiful, clear, soul-encouraging promises. A day is coming when all who are in Christ will be called to the sky to meet Jesus. Those who have died will come out of their graves. Those who are alive when Christ returns will rise to meet him in the air. Our bodies, dead or alive, will rise at the call of the final trumpet. And god, by his mighty power, will transform our bodies, regardless of present state, into flawless bodies that will last forever.

Please note, I’m not making some sort of particular eschatological argument here. I’m not making a pre-mill or post-mill argument. I’m not discussing tribulation. Nothing I have said embraces or makes fun of any book or movie series you love or love to ridicule. What I’m trying to say here is simple Scripture. A day is coming when all who know Jesus get eternal, never-wearing-out, never-failing, never-dying bodies. All who know Jesus will rise from the dead to be with the Savior and to find perfect and forever joy in his presence. We must not lose this hope. God intends we have it.

Last week, there was a shooting connected to a domestic dispute in my peaceful little neighborhood. My family heard the shots. We heard the sirens and the police helicopters. We heard the sounds of the dead woman’s sister’s grief and horror. We heard the officer using his bullhorn to call the criminal out of the house and surrender. And we were truly powerless to be of help in the situation.

As I write this, my wife is recovering from a surgery. A procedure had to be done to relieve some significant pain she was facing. Now she is dealing with the pain of recovery. As I write this, my mom is downstairs getting coffee. Mom has been recovering from a stroke that she experienced in 2020 and back pain that she has had since forever ago. As I write this, I write with an earbud in my ear as my computer reads aloud to me when I need to check the wording or spelling in a line. I cannot see the screen or anything on it. I have to function in life with eyes that simply do not work.

These things and a thousand others that you can add should remind us that we live in a world that cries out for the return of Jesus. We live in a world that desperately needs the gospel and the growth of God’s kingdom. We live in bodies that long to be transformed into what they one day will be.

I do not need to set an eschatological timeline to find hope in the word of God when the Lord promises us all new, resurrection bodies. This life, as it stands, is not to be my home. This life is a grand opportunity for us all to glorify Jesus, even as we face hardships. This life is also shaped to help us remember that we need, more than anything, to be in the presence of our Lord. This life is designed to help us see that we are not yet what we wish to be. We still fight against sin, against sickness, against threats, against the schemes of the devil. And, if we are willing to let Scripture teach us, we will press on with hope, looking forward to the reward to come in Christ.

Perhaps you do not like eschatology (end times) discussions. Perhaps you have been put off by the arguing and sniping from group to group. I get it. But do not let this stuff keep you from looking at the word, seeing the promise of the future, and rejoicing. Do not let it make you stop longing for your new, resurrection body. Do not let it keep you from praying, ?Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do not let it keep you from praying, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Even if you cannot spell out a timeline or understand anybody’s millennial position, look to the promise of the return of Jesus with true hope.

Only Believe

Mark 5:35-36 – 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

How do you respond when faced with the impossible? Jairus, a synagogue ruler, was in an impossible spot in Mark 5. His young daughter was sick. He tried to get Jesus to his home to heal her. But he was too late. While Jesus was on the way, Jairus received word that his daughter had died.

But what the Savior says to the religious leader is fascinating. Jesus commanded, “Do not fear, only believe.” In the face of all opposition, of heartbreaking loss, Jesus tells the man not to be afraid. Only believe.

What happens next? Jesus goes to the house, speaks to the girl, and brings her back from the grave. Jairus had his daughter back, well. The crisis was past.

When we read this, we know that we are reading a glorious story of the supernatural power of Jesus. WE are reading of the loving kindness of the Savior. And we are seeing the fact that Jesus has the power, the God-sized power, to push back the curse of original sin and to defeat death itself.

But we also should see here a call to our own faith. What do you face that you feel is impossible? Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.”

When we grab hold of that sentence, let us not try to take it and apply it to some sort of name it and claim it charismatic folly. Let us not assume that this applies to us if we fear our football team may not make a comeback when down in the 4th quarter. But let it apply as you think of ultimate and eternal things.

When you look at a broken world, do not fear, believe. When you feel like our government is beyond repair, do not fear, believe. When you think your own life is beyond hope, do not fear, believe. Believe in Jesus. Believe in his power to raise the dead. Believe in his ability to turn back the impact of the fall of mankind. Believe that Jesus rules right now. Believe that Jesus will return and rule forever. Believe that Jesus will never be defeated. Believe that the pains we face in the here-and-now will look tiny in the light of eternity. Yes, believe as well that Jesus can and will provide you with what you need, what he wants for you, every step of the way.

If you know Jesus, do not fear. If you have entrusted your soul to him for salvation, do not fear. If you have yielded yourself to his lordship, believe. Let your trust in the Savior calm your heart. Even in the face of the impossible, do not fear, only believe.

A Hopeful Thought

Philippians 3:18-21 – 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

We live in a hard world. We live in a world teaming with folks who oppose God and his ways. We live in a world in which the fundamental truths of how God has made us are being denied by those who would do away with all standards of biblical righteousness. We live in a world where people worship their drives and glory in what should be their shame.

What thought will give us hope in such a time? What calling do we have? We need to remember who we are and whose we are. We need to remember what is and what is not our home. Paul, writing to the Philippians, reminds them that our citizenship is not in this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Is this Paul being escapist? No. it is Paul setting our minds on their proper priority. We live on this earth while we know that we are eagerly awaiting the return of our Savior. We long for the day when Christ will come, will transform these lowly and broken bodies into eternal, heavenly bodies that are like his glorious resurrection body. WE look for him to come, consummate the kingdom, and rule forever. We look forward to this with confidence, and we have hope to live through and even transform this world.

No, do not become so heavenly minded that you cease to be of any earthly good. But neither should you assume that anyone who is living rightly here on earth can avoid being heavenly minded. Paul quite clearly comforts the Philippians with a reminder that our citizenship is with Christ and our hope is in his return. May we not let ourselves ignore that hope. May we love it and let it make us serve our Lord faithfully in the here and now.

A Hope We May be Ignoring

I want to help us to think about hope. Life is hard, Pain is real. Suffering is sometimes overwhelming. Frustrations about so many things threaten to steal our joy. We need to cling better to hope. And I believe there is something God has inspired for us to help us have that hope.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 – 1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

At the end of 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talked about the suffering we endure in this life as compared with the eternal weight of glory awaiting believers. Here he goes further, expressing a genuine longing for that glory. We groan in this life, longing to be clothed in our resurrection bodies, longing to be with our Lord.

I grew up in a small Southern Baptist church singing hymns with a mainly southern gospel flair. When I went to college, I learned about the contemporary worship sounds of that era and began to look down on those old hymns. When I went to seminary and then began to serve in local churches, I began to embrace more classical and high church hymns—think “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” as compared to “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” And, for the most part, classic hymns are still strongly my preference to both contemporary praise songs and southern gospel hymnary.

But as the years go by, I’m noticing a lack. I see it in the classic hymns to a degree. I see it even more so in the contemporary stylings of the day. Today, we do not sing enough about the hope of heaven. We sing God’s holiness, and this is good. We sing of loving and desiring to follow the Lord, and that is good. WE sing of the presence of God in our times of suffering, and that is good. But we do not sing enough of the picture that Paul paints here in 2 Corinthians 5, of being in our resurrection bodies in the presence of our Lord.

I’m not suggesting a big return to singing of streets of gold or of family reunions on a golden shore. Honestly, I’m not even trying to make a point about what we sing. That is an illustration of the point that has my attention. Instead, I am recognizing that the modern believer needs more hope of heaven. We need more regular reminders that we have a home that is beyond this life. We have bodies that, even if this world abuses us today, will be eternal, uninjured, glorious bodies that will stand in the presence of our Lord in a way that we have yet to experience. WE will live in the presence of God without sin, without shame, without sorrow. We should find hope in and long for that change to come.

Christian, thank God for the promise of eternal life in Christ. Thank him that eternal life has already begun. Also thank him that there is an even greater future awaiting all who are in Christ. Ask God to help you to, like Paul here, have great hope in being further clothed for eternity. Ask God to help you, as Paul writes in the next verses, to find joy in knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, present in a new way, present leading to a resurrected body and an eternity of peace and joy.

Our Hope: Resurrection

The world we live in is maddening. Christians have conflict with each other over politics, policies, masks, social media posts, ministry strategies, and so much more. The cancel culture makes our society look like a bad joke made in a poorly written dystopian teen novel. Society embraces evil. Some believers are misled with bad doctrine or no doctrine at all. And our own personal sinfulness is clear.

Where do we find hope? In a recent reading, I was reminded of hope in something that should never be outside of my field of vision. Sadly, sometimes it takes a reminder to put my mind back where it belongs.

Think with me to the upper room discourse. Jesus has just had the last supper with his disciples, and he is teaching them to prepare them for his coming suffering. And, though the disciples are barely ready to receive it, Jesus points not only to his coming death but also to his resurrection.

John 14:18-19 – 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”

Jesus knows that his death on the cross will be a terrible discouragement for the disciples. They will feel that they have been orphaned. They will feel alone and afraid. They will feel like the years of ministry that they have done and the hope they put in Jesus has somehow all gone wrong.

In some ways, the disciples will feel like Christians today can be tempted to feel. When your body does not do what it is supposed to do, you feel alone. When your children remind you of your shortcomings as a parent, you feel alone. When you realize that you have never lived up to being the husband or wife you promised your spouse you would be, you feel alone. When you want a spouse or you want children and this seems like it is just not on the way, you feel discouraged. When you see the nation slide toward self-destruction, you feel overwhelmed. When you see Christians show little grace and much nastiness in how they write to and about one another in public, you feel like there is nothing you can do to fix things.

Hear both what Jesus says as well as the huge biblical marker that he gives you for hope. Our Savior says to you, “I will not leave you as orphans…Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus promises us not to leave us as orphans. He will not leave us alone. He will not leave us without him. He will not leave us to ourselves. He will not leave us to the hopelessness of this world.

Where then is our hope? Here is the familiar doctrine that comforts and motivates us if we will remember it. Because Jesus lives, all of those who have come to him for grace will live too. The resurrection is our hope. The life of the Savior after death is our hope. The Savior’s conquest of the grave is our hope.

Jesus died. Jesus died the worst death any person has ever faced. This is not because of the physical horrors of the cross, though those were great. No, Jesus’ death was horrible because as he faced it, he bore the wrath of Almighty God for every sin God will ever forgive. Jesus took upon himself a sentence worth several eternities in hell, one for every sinner he will save. And—get this; don’t miss it—Jesus rose from the grave. Jesus took the ugliest death in eternal history and walked out of the tomb on the third day. Jesus truly conquered death.

And Jesus, who conquered death, Jesus who broke the power of death, Jesus who proved God just and merciful, that same Jesus says to us that, because he lives, we too will live. His resurrection is our hope. Jesus defeated a darkness that none of us could ever imagine. None of us has ever seen or felt the type of death that Jesus died. And Jesus got up. And Jesus tells us that we will live with him.

I cannot over-sell this. Christians, your hope is in the resurrection of the Savior. Without the resurrection, the cross is hopeless and empty. With the resurrection, we know that Jesus has defeated death, perfectly paid the price for every sin he will forgive, and opened the way for all of us to live well beyond this broken life. Jesus reminds us that our hope is not in our government. Our hope is not in the masks we wear or the masks we hope not to wear. Our hope is not in the civility of Christians on-line. Our hope is not in our skill as parents, spouses, money-managers, or coworkers. Our hope is built on the perfect life, sacrificial death, and gloriously powerful resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian, let yourself reflect on the hope you have in the resurrection of Jesus. Do not stop at the cross as if that is all there is to our faith. Oh, the cross work of Christ is glorious, do not get me wrong. But the cross only gives us life if the Savior walks out of the tomb victorious. And the Savior says to you, “Because I live, you also will live.”

And if for some crazy reason you are reading this and do not know Jesus, let me tell you that the resurrection of Jesus is your only hope too. If you want to live, you must find yourself in the grace of Jesus. Stop battling against God. Stop living for yourself alone. Stop thinking you are the boss of your life and the one who determines true and false, right and wrong. Surrender to Jesus. Ask him to pay for your sins with his death. Ask him to give you credit for his perfect life. Ask him to give you life in his resurrection. Believe and Jesus and ask him to be your Savior.

Hope and Perspective on Inauguration Day

It is Inauguration day 2021. Today, in the United States, one president leaves office and another takes it up. And our nation is deeply divided. Some are wildly excited. Some are passionately angry. Some are purely discouraged.

In my reading of the word today, I was reminded of a truth that I believe should help all believers walk wisely through a day of political change.

Luke 17:24-30 – 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

As the Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples in Luke 17, he pointed them toward the day of his return. Jesus does not return to this world in a secret fashion, unperceived by many. Jesus, when he comes back, is going to flash like lightning into the world and change it forever.

But what will the world be doing? The Savior tells us that many people will be living life as if nothing new was going on. They will marry and have kids. They will fight wars and sign peace treaties. They will inaugurate presidents and watch others leave the capital. They will live like there is no reason to think about the Savior. But the Savior will return, and the world will be forever his as it already is forever his.

Christians, may we be careful not to be like those who are focused so much on the day-to-day that we forget that we live in the kingdom of God that is already and not yet. May we remember that the Savior is building his church right now, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Let us remember that it is our job to be faithful to the Lord regardless of the government under which we live. Let us remember that the Savior is coming, and when he does, no person on earth will miss it. Let us remember that many in the world will ignore Jesus until the world has no choice but to worship Jesus.

This thinking helps us. It helps me not to let myself be overly excited about having a president I approve of or overly discouraged about having a president I would prefer not to have. It is not me saying that how we live or function as a nation does not matter, but it puts things in perspective. If the United States stands as a city on a hill and exalts the ways of God, Jesus will come back. If the United States falls under the judgment of God for her sin, crumbling into something we would not recognize as the country we love, Jesus will come back. Whether life is easy or persecution is prevalent, Jesus will come back because Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Today, Christian, I hope that you will pray. I hope that you will pray for the kingdom of God to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. I hope you will pray for our nation to function in ways that please the Lord. Pray that God have mercy on a nation that does not deserve it and hold us back from the destruction we would bring upon ourselves. Pray for the faithfulness of the church to stand and grow and worship regardless of who is in the Oval Office. Pray for the new president as the Lord commands you do. And pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus,” and ask the Lord to remind you that the Savior has never once failed. We live in a world that forgets. We live in a world as it looked in the days of Noah. The Lord will grow his church. Many will hate the Lord and his ways. Jesus is Lord now. Jesus will return and rule forever. Let this give you perspective and hope.