This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.
The candle that is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, is usually purple and represents ‘Hope’.
Isaiah 52:1-10; Luke 2:21-38
- With 2022 drawing to a close what do you hope for most in 2023?
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
The prophet Isaiah ministered in Judah. He presents a very clear picture of the sins of the kingdom of Judah—idolatry, hypocrisy, materialism, and the oppression of the poor. Sound familiar?
But his message was not entirely negative; the prophet also promised God’s people redemption, offering them hope for a glorious future, particularly when their Messiah arrived.
With these promises in mind as well as other prophecies, the people held onto the hope of their fulfillment during their lifetime. Sadly, however, because of their sins they succumbed to enemy forces and were taken into captivity.
Even then, through the prophets the Lord promised that a remnant would return to the Promised Land. This return took place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
What do you do when you have prayed for a situation or a person for a long time and yet the Lord seems to ignore your request?
Do you lose hope?
Do you give up and stop praying?
The years passed. Israel’s hope for the promised Messiah who would bring redemption and salvation faded into the background. By the time the Romans took control of the Promised Land, all hope for a coming Messiah had faded.
Yet certain individuals were still hoping for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
A part of the story that is not so well known is the part that we read about in Luke 2:21-38.
According to Jewish tradition when a baby boy was eight days old, he had to be circumcised. After a period of purification for Mary, Joseph and Mary took Jesus, as their firstborn son, to Jerusalem to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. (Luke 2:23)
Amazing, even though Jesus was God in the flesh his parents obeyed God’s law and had Him dedicated to God.
In the temple, Joseph and Mary met Simeon who had not lost hope.
Luke recorded, “At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God’s Spirit came to him.” (Verses 25b ,26 CEV)
He took the baby Jesus in his arms and announced “Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me. With my own eyes I have seen what you have done to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this.” (Verses 29-32)
Do you sense his incredible joy, at his hope being fulfilled?
But the story continues. Next, they were approached by Anna, an 84-year-old prophetess, who, since her husband’s passing in her youth, had spent day and night in the temple fasting and praying hoping to see the promised Messiah.
When she saw Mary and Joseph and the Christ child she too knew her hope had been fulfilled.
Simeon and Anna’s hopes were satisfied because their hopes were based on God’s promise through the prophets.
What are you hoping for?
If what you are hoping and praying for is biblically based, God is committed to providing an answer.It may not be the answer you hope for, but it will be the best answer because it is God's answer. Click To Tweet
The coming of Christ and the formation of the Christian Church has introduced many wonderful benefits to mankind, yet as we know, this world is still a shockingly evil place. Each day’s news informs us of just what a selfish, wicked, corrupt, and violent society we live in. And it’s not only in our own lands.
So then where is the promised redemption and salvation?
As was the case with many Old Testament prophecies, Isaiah’s promise looked to a double fulfillment.
- The first fulfillment was the coming of Israel’s Messiah, as the babe of Bethlehem – the Christ of Calvary.
He came not only for the redemption and salvation of a particular nation, but to offer redemption and salvation for all those who put their trust in Him.
At the same time, Jesus made it abundantly clear that following Him would be no picnic , It would not guarantee us freedom from hardship, suffering, and pain.
- The second fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy will take place in the future at the return of Jesus, the hope of the world.
As Paul wrote; “you surely know that the Lord’s return will be as a thief coming at night…So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armor. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet. God doesn’t intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 8, 9.)
The Greek word used for ‘hope’ is more than just “wishful thinking”. It means ‘confident expectation’.
Our Christian confident expectation is that:
We were saved the moment we opened our lives to Jesus.
Throughout our earthly life we will continue the process of being saved.
Ultimately when we either go to be with Jesus through death, or Jesus makes His second appearance on earth to fetch us, our salvation will be complete.
Jesus Christ “hope of the world” has come. Praise God this same Jesus who was born as the babe of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago will one day return as our Redeemer, the focus of our hope.
- Is your life focused on Jesus Christ the hope of the world?
Please close this session by joining me in this prayer.
God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with a message of hope towards others through the power of the Holy Spirit.