We are living in difficult times. In fact there have always been difficult times. But they have reached a crescendo with the Covid19 pandemic we are currently experiencing. However, Christians have an advantage over the rest of the world. We have access to a source that enables us to look beyond this and every other encounter of adversity we may face. We have Hope. But what is the reason for our hope?
What is Hope
Well, there are two meanings: the world’s and the Biblical. The world’s definition is to want something to happen or be true; it is basically a wish without any belief or confirmation that it will materialize. The Biblical meaning however, according to the Nelson’s Bible Dictionary: a confident expectancy. In the Scriptures, the word hope stands for both the act of hoping
and the thing hoped for. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, but a firm assertion about things that are unseen and still in the future.
Hope sets apart the Christian from the unbeliever, who has no hope. Scripture makes this clear when it references the prior state of individuals before accepting Christ in Eph 2:12
That at that time ye 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:
Undeniably, a Christian is one in whom hope lives (1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 3:3). On the contrary to Old Testament hope, the Christian hope is far superior. Heb 7:19 reads:
19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
The law is the Old Testament which was introductory in that it prepared us with having knowledge of sin and that we needed a savior. The New covenant (New Testament) ushered in a”better hope” because it assures us complete redemption and brings us into the very presence of God.
What is the Reason for Our Hope
Now that we know what hope is, what is the reason for our hope? Scripture says that we must always be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope in us. [1 Pet. 3:13]
Our hope is in Jesus Christ. As pointed out in the Scripture above (Heb. 7:19), before Christ we only had the Law which made us guilty and separated from God because nobody can keep the Law perfectly. But with the arrival, death and resurrection of Jesus, we now have hope because we have been reconciled with God. Let’s look at one more Scriptural confirmation of this great truth. Rom 3:20-25
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
God sent forth Christ Jesus to be a propitiation (a sacrifice through an offering) for when we transgressed the Law in the past. “all have sinned” everybody needs Christ. But this hope only applies to, as verse 22 states: “upon all them that believe.” It’s all about faith. For more on faith, read the article: What is Faith About.
The law condemns and convicts, it does not give the power to obey. Only the Holy Spirit we receive by accepting Christ as Savior can give us the power to obey the law.
So it is by maintaining faith in Jesus that we have this hope, this expectation, this assurance, that we are free from the enslavement of sin and its consequences.
But, why? Why do we need to be free from the enslavement sin?
What are We Hoping For
There are two things in our lives that are undeniable: death and taxes. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the former: death. For starters, death is certain and we need to cease being in denial of it.
Moving on, when death arrives, there is one destination: eternity (Heb 9:27). But there are two directions to eternity: eternal life or eternal death (damnation). Those of us who have faith in Jesus have the hope of eternal life with God. Those who do not, the unbelievers, have the ultimate destiny of eternal death with Satan. The former is heaven and the latter is hell.
Christians must keep their focus; their hope, on the ultimate destination—heaven. We must keep this hope in spite of what is going on around us and what we may be going through. In my observation, we do not maintain our focus on our ultimate destination. Nowadays I rarely hear the word Heaven or hell for that matter. Preachers and teachers aren’t preaching and teaching it because it is not what people want to hear and they are becoming people pleasers instead messengers of God. This has been prophesied in Scripture: 2 Tim 4:3 reads: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” Preachers and teachers need to take heed because there is a judgment awaiting those that lead the sheep astray (James 3:1). That’s I’m going to say about that—for now—stay tuned.
There is an expression which says something to the effect: don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. But I also say: don’t be so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good.
The fact of the matter is we are so ingrained in our pasts (childhoods and experiences) and the present; the earthly things, that we totally lose our
focus on our heavenly destiny. This is the work of Satan; to take us off course and it is so dangerous. This is Spiritual Warfare.
Everything has a proper time and a proper place in our lives; including our trials and tribulations. Scripture, as always, tells us the proper perspective we must have on our trials.
Let’s take a look: 2 Cor 4:14-18:
14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul begins this encouragement (vss. 14 & 15) by focusing on the resurrection and the fact that the same God that raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us up and all of this is to the glory of God.
In verse 16, in spite of our earthly experiences, we never give up. Even though we are dying on the outside, our spirits are being renewed every day—our trials strengthen us.
Paul describes our afflictions as light and short in comparison to eternity and they result in earning us a glory that outweighs them forever.
We are not to focus on the things that are seen or the troubles we see now. We walk by faith, not by sight. [cf. 2 Cor. 5:7] But we are to focus on the things that cannot be seen: the eternal because they last forever. This is where our primary focus should be—our eternal destiny.
So for the balance of this article, the focus is going to be on our ultimate destiny—Heaven!
Our Ultimate Hope
We are now going to take a look at the book of Revelations—Yes Revelations—that mysterious book that no one wants to tackle because of the judgment it contains. Here again you probably don’t hear may sermons or teachings from the book of Revelations.
So for a brief background, Revelations was written by the apostle John who was exiled to the island of Patmos as a result of persecution. At this time Christians were undergoing intense persecution. While in exile, he experienced a series of visions that depicted the end of the present age and the coming of God’s future kingdom. Its mystique is the result of the use of images, symbols, and numbers.
After the judgments were completed, an angel escorted John to see the New Jerusalem.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
So we see that the New Jerusalem will be a glorious city for it will have the splendor of a jasper stone. Jasper is a stone that excels in splendor. It is a stone of physical force and power.
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
We see here that the New Jerusalem will be a walled city with gates guarded by angels.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The New Jerusalem will be a city of untold stability with twelve foundations—wow!
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
The angel that was escorting John had a golden measuring stick to measure the city, it gates and walls. The measurement was twelve thousand furlongs which is 1,500 miles in all three directions (width, height, length). This city will be enormous! Just for some perspective. The span is from Main to Florida, and the Atlantic (in the US) to 600 miles west of the Mississippi. The walls-1500 miles high!
And note that this is only Jerusalem and doesn’t include the rest of the new earth.
Remember there will be no seas in the new earth (Rev. 21:1) so there will be plenty of land mass around.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
Next, the angel measured the thickness of the walls and they were 144 cubits which is 216 feet. Nothing will be able to penetrate these walls!
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
The city will be pure gold—so pure that it will be clear. Imagine streets of pure gold! No asphalt or concrete but gold—pure gold!
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
Now remember in verse 14 there were twelve foundations and we see here that each foundation was made of a precious stone and they will be different colors.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
The high walls will have twelve gates made of pearls. Each gate will consist of one huge pearl. Talk about pearly gates!
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
There will be no temple for God and the lamb (the Son of God) will be present. In the old earth, the temple represented the presence of the Lord, but with Him being present the temple won’t be needed.
Because of this presence of God and the lamb, their glory will provide plenty of light making the sun or the moonlight unnecessary.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
All of the righteous and the kings of the earth shall enter the city and no one of an impure nature shall enter the city but only the saved; the righteous which are written in the Lamb book of life.
This is a magnificent vision of what is to come. Now just imagine, this is only the capital city; not the surrounding areas or where the righteous and “the kings of the earth” will reside. After all Jesus said in John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” I may not live in a mansion now, but I’m looking forward to the one in heaven!!
Let’s now go to 22:3 of revelations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
There will be no more curse. Remember the old earth was cursed because of the original sin which bought great trial to mankind. But in the new earth, there will be no trials because there will be no more sin. That means no more sickness, death (no more corona virus), crime, heartache or sorrow. There will be no further imperiling of the soul. Everything will be perfect!
This is the reason of our hope; our heavenly hope. To be able to witness this for ourselves; to be with and in the presence of our Lord—forever!
Scripture informs us that we (Christians) are strangers and pilgrims on earth. [1 Pet. 3:11] Our citizenship is in heaven and we are only here for a short time. Therefore we cannot allow what we experience here to be our main focus because our destiny is heaven—the new earth!
We must not allow Satan, the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2) to
distract us and take our focus off of our ultimate destiny. And above all, we who follow Christ, must follow the advice given to us in the Scriptures in Col 3:1-11:
3 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. NLT
The Scripture says: “since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” For any reader who has not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, take note of verse 6. I urge you to do so immediately!
So…be encouraged brothers and sisters! We must hold on to our hope in spite of what is going on!
We must continually press on toward the prize: heaven!
Questions, comments and concerns are fully welcomed below.