Does the evil, violence and sin in our world ever weigh you down? It certainly does for me when I choose to focus on it. Why is our world the way it is? How can we have hope in such an imperfect world? Today our message is entitled "Ultimate Hope.
In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve in a beautiful paradise called the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God there. In that garden, there was no suffering, no death, no pain and no sin. But then something dreadful happened. An alien being, a serpent, tempted that first couple to disobey God and sin. That first sin catapulted the entire creation, the entire universe underneath the curse of sin. The curse of sin brought death and disrupted the garden paradise in a multitude of negative ways.
Romans 8:22 (ESV) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
This groaning is a result of the curse of sin which brought evil, death and suffering into world. Even we as believers groan under this curse.
Romans 8:23 (ESV) 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.
You see, this life is not all there is. We look forward to an ultimate hope beyond this life. A hope in which the curse of sin will be completely removed, both from our bodies and from our world. Let's watch a short video about our hope called'the Hope of Freedom. A day is coming, the day of the Lord, in which the entire cosmos will be changed.
2 Peter 3:10 (ESV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Everything that we know in the heavens and earth will be burned up and dissolved, everything that has been contaminated by the curse of sin. But that's not the end.
2 Peter 3:13 (ESV) But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
God is going to create a new heavens and a new earth where only righteousness dwells. They will be our home for eternity with God. Today, in our final message in our series on Discovering Hope, we will look at what the prophet Isaiah has to say about our ultimate hope in eternity. When we look around us at the evil, sin and suffering in our world, we groan. We know this is not the way things are supposed to be. But we have hope from the Holy Spirit, who tells us that God has a plan for a new creation. No matter what you're going through today, you can have hope for the future as you ...
Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
This Scripture was read by Jesus in Luke 4, indicating that it referred to Himself. In our dark world, there are those who are poor, brokenhearted, captive and bound. Jesus came to bring good news, healing and deliverance to those affected by the curse of sin. God promises in this verse to bring complete restoration to the hurting of this world.
Isaiah 61:2-3 (ESV) to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion? to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
Jesus, the promised Messiah began the mission to reverse the curse and bring God's blessing to the world. In His ministry, He comforted those who mourned. Those who believed in Him were transformed from mourning to praising. They were given strong roots in God so that they could be oaks of righteousness. In other words, those who believed in and followed Jesus began to live in and experience the blessings of the age to come. Yet, Jesus' mission was only begun in His life on this earth. In the future ...
Isaiah 61b:8-9 (ESV) ? I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
The prophet now begins to look beyond the earthly ministry of Jesus. He looks to time when the whole world will acknowledge that followers of Jesus have been blessed by Him. The covenant or promise that God is making with believers is an everlasting covenant. It will go on forever. The completion of Jesus' mission, the eradication of the curse of sin on this planet will only come when He returns at His second coming.
You and I live in what some have called the Already but Not Yet period of history. Already we partake in the blessings of being a believer in Jesus. We have everlasting life, our sins our forgiven, we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the community of His church. However, Not Yet do we have complete victory over sin, sickness and death. We are surrounded by unbelievers who are not walking in righteousness. Evil and violence of all kinds are around us. Not Yet has heaven come down to earth. Not yet has evil been judged. Not yet has the last enemy of death been eliminated. So we live in the Already/Not Yet period of history between Jesus' first and second coming. Already we see some of the supernatural power of God's kingdom, but the fulness of the Kingdom is Not Yet here. How are our we to live in this Already/Not yet tension?
Isaiah 64:1 (ESV) Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence?
The prophet begins to pray that God would tear open the heavens and come down to earth. That the very mountains would rock at the presence of God coming down. The prophet was praying for an open heaven in which the power of God impacted our world. God answers those kind of prayers and the answers to those prayers brings revival to different places and people groups on our planet. To build our faith to pray that way, we must ...
Isaiah 64:3-4 (ESV) When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
The prophet reflects on times when God came down in the past. Perhaps thinking of God's presence on Mount Sinai when He gave the 10 commandments to Moses. Or perhaps Isaiah was remembering God's deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt through the ten miraculous plagues. Or Isaiah may have been remembering God helping Israel defeat its enemies and conquer the Promised Land.
As the prophet reflects on God's past works for the nation of Israel, he becomes keenly aware of his own sins. He knows that sin will stand in the way of God's intervention, sin will prevent the heavens being opened to pour out God's blessing. So, we need to ...
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah speaks now as a representative of the people of Israel. They were unclean. All the things they had done that they considered righteous where simply filthy rags in God's sight. Rather than flourishing as oaks of righteousness, they were like dried leaves, being blown about by the wind of their own sins. So, recognizing their sins, they now call on God for forgiveness.
Isaiah 64:9 (ESV) Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people.
The prayer of the prophet continues by asking God for forgiveness. For God to turn from His anger at their sin, as they were His people, His followers. And with the repentance of sins, the door for God to intervene on behalf of His people is once more open.
There are two types of interventions that we pray for God to do. The first type of prayer is for God to intervene in our situation in the Already time, the time in which we are living. The theme of the Southern Missouri District of AG for 2019 is Open Heaven. We are praying for God to rend the heavens and come down among us with His power. We are praying for God to save people, to heal people, to deliver people, to bless people. We are praying for the supernatural demonstration of God's power, for revival in our lives, in our church and in our city.
We look back in the Bible and in history and we remember times when God moved on this earth in supernatural ways. As we remember, God helps our faith to grow in our time. We also must acknowledge and repent of sin in our lives. For unrepented sin will prevent answers to our prayers. The second type of prayer for God's intervention is for Jesus to come again as we ...
Isaiah 65:17 (ESV) ?For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
Many people view eternity as being in heaven forever. That's not what the Bible teaches. God is going to create a new heavens and a new earth. The old heavens and earth are going to pass away. The new heavens and the new earth will come after Jesus returns to the earth. The sin, evil, pain and suffering of the present earth will be gone forever, never to be remembered. It will be a time to ...
Isaiah 65:18-19 (ESV) But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
We will be glad and rejoice for eternity in the new heavens and earth that God will create. As wonderful as our present earth and heavens are, they are corrupted by sin. The new creation will be perfect and flawless, far surpassing what we now experience. The Jerusalem that the prophet is speaking of here is the New Jerusalem spoken of in the book of Revelation. The New Jerusalem is the city in which believer will live. God will once again walk and talk with the followers of Jesus, just as He did in the garden of Eden before the fall. In fact, this New Jerusalem will be the paradise of Eden restored forever. God Himself will rejoice and be glad with His children. There will be no more sadness, weeping or distress. We can look forward with a confident ...
Isaiah 65:25 (ESV) The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain," says the LORD.
This verse gives us a picture of life in eternity. No longer will the wolf be a predator that eats the lamb, but the wolf will graze together with the lamb. Likewise the lion will no longer kill to eat. And the serpent that caused the temptation in the garden of Eden will no longer cause any harm. There will be no more evil, no more violence, no more effects of the curse in the new creation. Even the animals and nature itself will have been released from the curse. The entire new heavens and new earth will be paradise restored to God's original intent and purpose. No matter what we're going through in this life, we can put our hope in God's blessing in eternity.
Last week I heard a story about a 7-year old girl in India, whom I'll call Sasha. Sasha was born into a Brahmin caste family, the highest caste in India. Her mother was a Brahmin priestess who consulted the demonic Hindu gods on a regular basis. Sasha heard about another more powerful God Jesus from a friend at school. In secret, she would steal away to study the Bible with her friend and even go to a house church. Eventually Sasha's mother found out about her faith and demanded that she renounce Jesus. Sasha refused to renounce Jesus and told her mother that she would continue to follow Him.
Her mother flew into a rage and locked Sasha up in her room, giving her only water to drink for two weeks. At the end of the time, her mother expected Sasha to be weak and ready to renounce Jesus. But Sasha had been praying the entire time and miraculously was healthy and well. She told her mother that Jesus was more powerful than any of the Hindu gods. Her mother tied her up, took her to the backyard, slit Sasha's wrists with a knife and waited for her to die. However, despite bleeding, Sasha did not die and would not renounce Jesus. Her mother went into the house, got a container of kerosene, poured it over Sasha and give her one final chance to renounce Jesus. But Sasha refused. Her mother took out her match book and struck one match after another, but all refused to light. Again Sasha told her mother that Jesus was the most powerful.
Sasha lived, was able to escape her family and take refuge in a church. Eventually she was trained in the AG India College of Ministry and is currently pastoring a church she planted with plans to plant another. India is now experiencing an open heaven and revival. Thousands of students are graduating from the AG College of Ministry yearly and thousands of churches are being planted with Hindus turning to Christ.
What made young Sasha so courageous and strong in the face of death? It was her faith in Jesus and an ultimate hope in eternity. She knew that even if she died, she would be with Jesus forever. He would have a place for her in the new heavens and new earth. A place with no more suffering, pain or death. And through her faith, God supernaturally spared Sasha's life, so that she could serve Him as an evangelist leading others to Jesus.
Whatever you're going through in life today, God wants to give you hope. Hope that He is with you in your situation right now. And an ultimate hope that your eternity with God is secure in the new heavens and earth.