Focus on God’s Promise and Hope

As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”

Jesus replied,“Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”         Mark 13:1-2 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.                 Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT, my emphasis)

Lectionary texts: I Samuel 1:4-20, Psalm 113, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8

I began reading the texts with I Samuel. I love the story of Hannah. Her petition to God is for a child. Those of us who have children and had no difficulties conceiving a child cannot understand her heartache. Most of us can identify with her relationship to Peninnah, however. We have known a snotty bully who enjoyed degrading us in order to make themselves feel more superior. Then there is the scene of Hannah, crying out to God straight from her heart that has the priest, Eli, thinking she is drunk. It might be compared to crying and speaking to God in “tongues” when under great duress in spirit, that can seem unintelligible to an observer. But I wonder if there is a significance that God seems to answer Hannah’s request, not when she is crying out in her anguish of feeling “less than” but when she dedicates her child, yet to be conceived, to God. It seems God’s answer comes not for the immediate concern but in a bigger Kingdom plan for a child who, dedicated to Him, will become His prophet.

And then there are the disciples who are dazzled by the Temple, man’s concept of God’s Kingdom. Jesus quickly destroys the disciples’ focus, which was the focus of most Jews – that Israel would overthrow Rome and rule as King David had. And Jesus goes even further and reveals to them that there will be “wars and rumors of war,” earthquakes, famines, and that is only the beginning. But Jesus says it is not the the beginning of “the end” but of birth. The old way of thinking will be destroyed and God’s true Kingdom will come. This is what most of us, His disciples, do not want to hear and allow ourselves to understand. The Kingdom that we will be a part of – isn’t here on earth. In fact,

“ … those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equaled again.” Mark 13:19 (NIV)

Psalm 113 and Hebrews 10 speaks of the hope and the promise from God that we have. God’s promise that we will be with Him again in Paradise because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Just as we participate in suffering as Jesus did, so we will also be a part of the glory that is to come.

Even now as I am writing this, wars and conflicts erupt and people will die. The end result of these conflicts may bring incomprehensible suffering. Hurricanes and earthquakes seem to strike and fulfill God’s Word that it will “rain on the just and the unjust.” The world economy could bring a fiscal depression that exceeds The Great Depression of the early 20th century. And through all of this, we have Jesus entreating us, just as He did His disciples of the 1st century, “Listen to Me! Look with your spiritual eyes and see the eternal Kingdom. That is My Promise and your Hope.”

Be Thou My Vision written by Dallan Forgaill (6th century Ireland) and sung by 4Him




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