Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Points to Ponder:
As we celebrate this Third Sunday of Advent, let’s take an imaginary journey together, traveling backward and deep into the days of a time for Israel known as the intertestamental period. Only a leaf or two separates the Old and New Testaments on the pages of Scripture as we read it today, but the truth is that those leaves represent this time, the 400-year span that elapsed between the closing events of the Old Testament and the opening events of the New.
Imagining ourselves as Israelites of the day, this is a glimpse of the common knowledge and insights that would shape our lives and conversations. First and foremost, we would share a common knowledge that our God, hundreds of years prior, promised to send Messiah to rescue us from what remains of the oppression that has somehow seemed to follow us and our people since the early days of the nation’s exile. Scroll after scroll of Old Testament Scripture – our Hebrew Bible – is filled with prophecies concerning the power, might, love, and coming kingdom of this Messiah. We wait for that coming. And watch.
And yet…to date there has been no further word, no sign, only silence for the nearly 400 years that have passed since the closing of the Old Testament. Sometimes that silence is so deafening that we have honestly grown weary of waiting as days, weeks, years, centuries, have now come and gone. Some of friends and family have joined a growing group of skeptics who have become weary and are beginning to question their faith in God and His faithfulness to them. But others we know remain a part of the faithful sector; they remain hopeful as they continue to read about Messiah, look for Messiah and fervently pray for the only thing that will change Israel’s future – His much-anticipated arrival.
Perhaps it is this latter group, the faithful, whom John Bowring envisioned as he penned the lyrics for the timeless hymn, Watchmen, Tell Us of the Night. In these lyrics, Bowring captures the deep sense of yearning – the hope – those Israelites must have felt as they watched and waited, longed for, dared to expect Messiah’s appearance.
The author of Hebrews has something to say about the type daring hope displayed by Israel and revisited in Bowring’s lyrics. Hebrews 11 is often referenced as the “Hall of Faith” because much of its content addresses the examples of faith set forth by Israelites like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses as they served God. It would be this kind of faith – the kind that dares to hope in things unseen and unfathomable – that our latter group would display. This is the kind of faith described as “confidence in what we hope for” in today’s passage of Scripture.
As followers of Christ actively look toward His second coming even while dwelling in cultures that can seem increasingly oppressive today, we have an ideal opportunity to exhibit the daring hope demonstrated by the heroes of Hebrews 11 and the intertestamental Israelites who followed their examples. They show us that daring hope – driven by faith – creates a calm assurance of what absolutely will come. Admittedly we can’t yet see what is promised, but that’s the beauty of daring hope: we believe in the promise, and live and prepare ourselves as though that promise is already fulfilled.
– Copyright 2016, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All Rights Reserved.
Worship Link via YouTube:
Focus for Reflection:
What, if any, similarities do you see between the Israelites of the intertestamental era and the environment in which you find yourself today?
Do the words of Matthew 2:1-2 in any way shape or reshape your outlook as you wait expectantly for Christ’s second coming?
Thank you for letting His Own Heart Ministry be a part of your day. It is such an honor to serve you in the Name of Jesus! To ensure delivery of this Advent series, please subscribe through the button above to your right.