2018 12 02 Lorna Laister Advent HOPE
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Create DateDecember 3, 2018
Last UpdatedDecember 3, 2018

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Scripture readings for today

Jer. 33:14-16 • Ps. 25:1-10 • Luke 21:25-36

 

Advent HOPE

Today we are suspending our study of the book of Acts because we are entering the Christmas season. From today until the 6 January we celebrate the fact that Jesus came; is here and will come again.

 

The manger scene is a symbol of HOPE, it reminds us of Jeremiah’s powerful prophecy delivered many years before Jesus’ birth. His message was one of hope for the Jews—hope for the coming of their promised Messiah, which meant that the Jewish nation would be delivered from oppression

 

In the book of Jeremiah, hope is profoundly important. It was written at a time when there wasn’t much hope. Jeremiah himself was involved in many less-than-hopeful situations, including the devastation of Jerusalem by the armies of Babylon, his imprisonment at the command of the king of Judah, and being kidnapped at midnight by a group of rebels. When Jeremiah shares what God says about hope, it had great personal meaning for him. Jeremiah sees hope as something essential to survival—his view of hope is tough, enduring and vital. Today we’ll see how Jeremiah views hope in three ways:

1)   hope in season,

2)   hope in action, and

3)   hope within hope.

Hope in season

Jeremiah had one of the most brutal careers of all of God’s prophets. Called “the weeping prophet,” he spent most of his career telling the people of Judah these things: stop your

  1. Idolatry
  2. Mistreatment/oppression of the poor, the widows and disabled people.
  3. Drunkenness

It’s ironic that it was during this imprisonment, when Jeremiah likely lamented that he could no longer do the work of God, he was led by God to pen the words of hope we read in chapter 33.

 

Here’s a question: Have you ever felt imprisoned by circumstances?

Real Hope is found in Jesus, the Saviour of the world. We can find great hope knowing that he has come, is coming now by the Spirit, and will come again to set all things right. Because of Jesus, we know that this life is not all that there is. We know that the pain, sorrow, trial and even death we experience on this side of Jesus’ return are temporary. When Jesus returns, he will do what is just and right.

This world is in a terrible mess. However, we know that God is above it all. He’s in control. He’ll make things right.

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. (Jer. 33:15)

The Hebrew word translated stump is netser. It likely refers to a gnarled old grape vine that has been cut down to the roots—just a stump left. The promise is that this gnarled, old, seemingly lifeless stump will send out a new shoot—new growth, new hope. Netser became the name of a town you’re familiar with Netseret–we know it as Nazareth. From out of Nazareth (the old stump) came Jesus—Jesus of Nazareth. He came in the midst of devastation, a time when all hope seemed gone. He came not only bearing a message of hope, but he was, in himself, the Hope of not only Israel, but of all humanity.

We too can trust God to bring us through even the worst seasons in life. No matter how great the difficulties we’re going through, we know they are not the final word. We know this because we know WHO controls the seasons of life. We know WHO brings resurrection—WHO restores life to what seems dead, what seems without hope.

Advent reminds us of hope in season. Whatever season you are going through It reassures us that Jesus is coming again as King of kings and Lord of lords. God is saying” It’s ok. I have given you an amazing promise. It’s as good as done! I AM WHO I SAY I AM. I DO WHAT I SAY I’LL DO.

Hope in action

Advent also tells us about hope in action.

Before Jeremiah gave his hope-filled messianic prophecy, we learn in Jer. 32:6-15, that God told Jeremiah to buy a parcel of land in Judah at the very time the country was being invaded by the Babylonians. God then told Jeremiah that his land would be stolen, then destroyed. Who in their right mind buys land during an invasion? It makes no sense. Yet Jeremiah did what God told him to do. He bought the land, then gave the deed to his servant Baruch for safekeeping. Jeremiah was taking part in a revolutionary act of hope. This was hope in action.

What does hope in action look like for us? Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Every week, we choose to give offerings at church. By this act of generosity, we declare that our hope is in God, not in wealth. We are saying that God is in charge of our finances.
  2. Every day, we choose to love people (including those closest to us). Instead of reacting in anger when they frustrate or disappoint us, we choose to share in God’s love for them, a love based not on what they do, but on who they are—God’s beloved.

In what ways is God asking you to put hope into action in your life? Perhaps what he is asking you to do makes no sense right now, but can you choose to obey him anyway? Doing so is what keeping your eyes on the kingdom of God is all about.

Hope within hope

In a way, Advent is a season of anticipation.

The righteous Branch mentioned here in Jeremiah did indeed spring up from David. The great, promised King did come. He is the Prophet of prophets and the Priest of priests. Yet he didn’t come like we thought he would—he didn’t destroy, he didn’t end it all, nor did he build heaven on earth. He didn’t vindicate just one nation from just one circumstance in just one time—his mission extended much further and deeper than that. Jesus came as the Saviour of all humanity—he came, he comes and will come again to save humanity from its worst ruler—ourselves. He came as a baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, he comes now through the Spirit, and one day he will come again bodily to earth in tremendous power and mercy.

These “comings” (advent) of the eternal Son of God become human—is our hope within hope. We have hope today because we have the ultimate hope for the ultimate tomorrow. Spoiler alert: The good guys win! We can live in hope because we live in capital H—HOPE. All we have now, no matter how good, is not as good as it gets. Conversely, all the bad we’ve experience now is not life’s final answer, it does not define us:

1.The parent who mistreated or ignored you does not establish your identity. Because of the advent of Jesus, you are the chosen child of God who God has loved since before the world began.

  1. The job you lost did not define you—your identity didn’t disappear when your job did. You are called of God to participate in the spread of his kingdom today and to worship forever in the courts of the King.
  2. The lover who never came, or the one who broke your heart, did not define you forever as lonely or rejected. You are the beloved of God, the bride of Christ, pursued forever by the great romantic.
  3. THIS BODY OF MINE THAT IS DECAYING – IS TIGHTENING UP AND CAUSING ME GRIEF – IT IS NOT WHO I AM. The sickness or accident, or the aging that destroyed your body, does not define you. You are the dancer, the beautiful creation of God who will forever walk upright in the Lord’s presence, and by his side.

Jeremiah saw hope as something vital to survival. Do we see hope that way? What does it mean to live our lives with hope as the backdrop, knowing that each season/time of loss will lead to a season of blessing?

Lorna Laister 1st December 2018



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