Believing in the hope of the coming days
Life is different. We all know this, but we frequently discuss how different it has become.
For many, Thanksgiving was not as we are used to it being, and likely Christmas will not be the same as “normal”. For many of us, we do not have experience or memory of extremely tough times in our nation or our world. It has been 75 years or so since Americans experienced several different Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons as Americans were off to war in Europe and the Pacific while folks on the home front prayed for the safety of loved ones and endured rations and the internment of citizens who looked like the enemy.
There are also still some of the “greatest generation” who knew what it was like to go without during the great depression. Still most Americans do not know suffering on a global and national scale. Unfortunately, most of us in our ignorance neglect to know how good we have it.
The Old Testament is the story of God’s people the Jews and the unfortunate and unnecessary behaviors and events which caused a nation to split, sin and evil to abound and the people enduring the cost of disobedience while in exile.
I’m sure there were many families who longed for the days of old where they experienced the blessing and protection of God as they lived in the comfort of a promised land given to them by the Lord Himself. I also assume there were many who liked the new place, the new king, and the new neighbors and customs better than the old ones.
Exile had become a new opportunity to be out from under the old regime of following God and seeking His guidance for all of life. This is one of the greatest problems with humanity: we are like sheep looking for better grass and, in the gazing, neglect and reject what God has given us.
Listen to the Word of God through the prophet Isaiah, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord , to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Isaiah 2:1-5 ESV
The mountain mentioned here is a kingdom, the Kingdom of the Lord, specifically the Kingdom of Christ. The people in exile would have listened to these words and many would have found hope, still others would have regarded them as antiquated ways which disappeared with the reality of exile and the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem.
For those who found hope, they believed a day would come when all would be made right because God would rule not just the people of Israel, but the whole of the earth. They believed in the hope of a coming day when the promised of God, and the end of suffering due to sin, would arrive and exist forever. Then and finally then, life would be different, but different because of what God had done!
None of us can predict when this pandemic will end and none of us can know what life will be like after the pandemic is “over”.
What we can predict and know is God will be present and Jesus will rule and reign over a world living in the righteousness and rightness of His kingdom.
In the meantime, we can live with the hope of the days to come as we live in the hope of the present moment. Why? Because God is still on the throne and Jesus is still the savior.
Our days may be tough, but our present hope is only a glimpse of the days to come when all will be Christ! That is Good News!
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.