SERIES: The Thrill of Hope: Christmas 2017
Sunday, December 3, 2017
- “Just as a man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.” – Elie Weisel
- Weisel understood the power of hope – concentration camp
- “A person can live for forty days without food, 3 days without water, and eight minutes without air, but not one second without hope.” – Hal Lindsey
- “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices”
- We are living in a weary world
If you are bearing the weight of anxiety this morning about what you’re going through (even if you hide it really well), I want to offer you encouragement and hope.
- OT/NT – Christmas story in NT – across the OT, for thousands of years, HOPE sustained Israel
- Genesis 3 the Messiah is promised / context for Christmas is set
- Prophets, priests, and patriarchs of Israel pointed to that hope (during slavery, captivity, famine, suffering, etc.)
In chapter 8, Isaiah prophesies that the kingdom of Assyria would come and take Israel captive. This happened in 740 BC. So with that news in their ears, here’s what Isaiah says next…
TEXT: Isaiah 9:1-7 (523)
1Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
- Hope can sustain us in the dark moments of our journey.
- Isaiah: There are tough times ahead, but those times won’t last forever.
- When you are in the middle of a dark time, it doesn’t feel that way does it?
- “‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Everything will be alright.’… Every one of his words was healing and every glance of his carried a message of hope.” (pg. 79) – from Night
- “the people walking in darkness will see a great light.”
- Matthew 4:15-16 (735) – quotes this to reference Jesus as the Messiah
- But that was a long way off (over 750 years) from Isaiah’s writing. That’s a long time to wait for hope.
- God is faithful in our lives to give us glimpses of hope until hope is fulfilled.
- Hope that is certain is hope that sustains.
- There’s a difference between hope and optimism.
- Hope is based on assurance in something or someone
- Biblical authors describe faith this way. When writers in the Bible talk about faith, they’re not talking about optimism or the power of positive thinking, they are talking about confidence that God will do in our lives what He promises He will do
- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1 (926)
- What gives us that confidence and assurance? God’s faithfulness in the past
- When Isaiah gave Israel hope in chapter 9, it meant something because of their history. They could look back and see how He had been faithful to them in the past and so they knew they could trust Him in the future – and that gave them hope
- God’s track record in my life makes me certain about my future…
- Hope isn’t an event, it’s a person.
6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
- Isaiah points to the birth of the Messiah (Jesus) as the source of hope.
- Why is Christmas so significant to us? Because Christ’s birth is the embodiment of our hope.
- Scripture tells us that when God wanted to bring hope to the world, He didn’t send a good plan or a wise philosophy – He sent His Son.
- Isaiah + Israel – hope in a future Messiah / disciples held onto hope despite persecution, imprisonment, losing relationships, even martyrdom – hope in the resurrected Christ (what they saw gave them hope in every circumstance)
- If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:19 (879)