As we have seen all week, Jesus was the hope of everyone before and during his time on earth. The Old Testament, from the very first sin, started pointing to Jesus as the hope for mankind. It didn’t say his name specifically, but prophecy after prophecy described him and what he would do. For thousands of years, God-believing people looked toward the hope of a Messiah.
During Jesus’ time, many people recognized who he was and their hope was realized. It was such a bold, earnest hope that the authorities exiled and put to death those who proclaimed it. Yet this hope spread throughout the known world, despite the persecution.
So what hope do we have today? Is our hope still in Jesus, even though he already came and went? The answer is “absolutely, yes!” Jesus came, he died, he came back to life, and he went back to heaven. But that is not the end of it! There are still prophecies to be fulfilled and promises to be kept. Daniel speaks of these prophecies, they are in three of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), and John writes the entire book of Revelation about them. These prophecies are full of imagery, hard to understand, and people have so many interpretations of them. What exactly are these prophecies? How can we find hope in them?
These prophecies speak to the end of the current world. Jesus will come a second time. He will take his people to be with him, he will enact justice upon the remaining people on earth, he will bind up Satan and throw him in the pit, and he will create a new heaven and a new earth for his people. During this time there is great tribulation on the earth, death and destruction, apostasy and heresy, war, famine, and much more. The way these events happen and the timing of them are disputed. But if you look at the prophecies in a strategic way, looking at the overall picture, not down in the weeds, you will see that although there are a lot of horrible things going on, there is an abundance of hope for believers.
You see, the end times means all those bad things for non-believers. However, for believers, we will not end up in the pit with Satan. Instead, we will join Jesus in the new heaven and new earth.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:7-10 NIV
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13 NIV
There will be 1,000 years of righteous reign for those who are martyred.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nationsanymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beastor its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second deathhas no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:1-6 NIV
ALL people will face God. Those that believe in Jesus will go to Heaven and those that do not will go the lake of fire (hell). Believers can have hope that they will not experience the second death. Earthly death just brings them to heaven. The second death is only reserved for those that do not believe.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:11-15 NIV
Jesus promised that there would be a place for us in heaven. He doesn’t run out of room. Heaven is open to all those who believe in him and follow him.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
John 14:2 NIV
And he isn’t just preparing a place for you to stay, Jesus also wants to reward you! How exciting to know that all the things you do in his name, he will reward you for!
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:8 NIV
Timothy isn’t just waiting around, he is waiting with anticipation. Just like a kid waiting for Christmas. There is so much excitement about what is to come that he can’t contain himself! That is how we should react when we think about what is in store for us. You see, we may suffer here on earth through physical ailments, persecution, discrimination, loss, grief, and any number of other things, but that is all temporary. We are eternal beings. If we believe in Jesus, then we will end up in heaven where there is none of those things.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 NIV
We will receive new, perfect bodies.
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT
who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:21 NIV
God has prepared a glorious place for us. In this place is a mansion he has made for us, rewards for our acts of service, joy abundant, righteous living, … it is perfect. That is what we have to look forward to. That is what our hope looks to. We know that all we experience here on earth is for his purpose and when we are done, he has prepared a place for us that is beyond what we can imagine!
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5 NIV
You may be wondering why I did not go into the prophecies more. After all, this is a week focused on hope and prophecy. First, it is very hard to fit everything in to the Advent season. Each year, even in the traditional calendars, the verses that are focused on change for this very reason. Second, current prophecy is hard to understand. You see, looking on prophecy fulfilled is a lot easier than interpreting prophecy yet to be fulfilled. There are many opinions as to how current prophecies will play out. For our purposes, these opinions and such are not relevant to what we are focusing on: hope. We can focus on the hope without delving into all the particulars. If you are interested in delving into the prophecies, please contact me. I would love to point you to some resources to aid you in your discovery!
Thank you for all you have done for me. How I look forward to the day when I can sit with you, with no sorrow and no tears, in a body that works perfectly, and where justice and righteousness reign. Help me to stay focused on that as I endure the difficulties of this life on earth. Help me point others to you.
In your name I pray,
- Do you know Jesus in a personal way? If not, I urge you to read the book of John or talk to a trusted Christian.
- Take some time to write down the promises that we have to look forward to. Which one means the most to you?