Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Looking Forward to Our Future Hope

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Jared Erondu

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

It’s been a hard eighteen months, hasn’t it? A worldwide pandemic (and all that has come along with that!), social unrest, lives lost in tragic ways, a hard election cycle, personal attacks and online debates, and the list goes on and on. Right about now I think we can all relate to Paul’s words in Romans 8:22-23, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

There is something within each of us that longs for peace and a perfect world. We long for justice, righteousness, and love to prevail. And whatever our background, personal theology, faith or lack thereof, this desire reveals the truth of the Bible when it says that the broken world in which we live - fraught with so much sin and heartache - isn’t the way it was supposed to be. And - praise the Lord! - one day it won’t be like this any longer.

The first two chapters of the Bible are so beautiful. They present to us a perfect world just as God designed it to be - a world with no sin, no heartache, no trial, no loss, no suffering or sadness of any kind. But by the third chapter, all of that is lost when sin enters into the story, and all manner of brokenness quickly ensues (in fact, by the time you’re just one more chapter further into the story, even the first murder has already taken place!). 

In Genesis 3:16-19 God lays out the initial consequences faced by men and women as a result of their sin (things like toil, increased pain in childbirth, etc.). But our condition as a result of the fall is even worse than what is laid out here. At the moment the fall took place, and now down throughout all of history, we sinners have “become dead in our trespasses” (Ephesians 2:5) and “slaves to sin” (see Romans 6). We are living lives we were never meant to live, lives we were not designed for - and so we groan. C.S. Lewis illustrated this truth well when he said, ““If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We were made for another world, and praise God another world is just what is offered to us! All human efforts down through history to construct utopian societies, to return to the Garden, to reach perfection or tranquility or peace on our own, have failed. But God in His grace and mercy constructed a plan that has never and will never fail - a plan He even promised way back in the Garden of Eden when sin first entered the world! Revealing His great love for His people - even in the midst of their sin - He says in Genesis 3:15 (speaking to the serpent about the Savior), “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 

The entire rest of the Bible is the unfolding of this grand plan of God to restore the world to what God originally intended, an obliteration of sin and a restoration to righteousness in Christ, a destruction of heartache and pain and a return to peace in the Lord. 

This plan looked like God sending His Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sins so that we might take on His righteousness as our own and be granted eternal life in Him forever. What glorious news! Romans 6:17-18 says, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” This is the promised change we undergo when we “confess with [our] mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in [our] heart[s] that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9).

And just as the first two chapters of the Bible are beautiful in their perfection and peace, the final two chapters of the Bible are just as beautiful (if not more so!) as we see the promised perfection and peace we have to look forward to! May you take the words from Revelation 21:3-4 quoted above with you today, and may they bring you hope and peace! 

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