Sunday, December 1, 2013
Hope is one of those words thrown about in the early days of the Advent season. One of the lessons read on the first Sunday comes from the first few verses of the second chapter of Isaiah. It is a word which not only speaks to the exiled Hebrews about their return to Jerusalem, but it also speaks about a revelation of the Kingdom of God that will exceed anyone's expectations. They are in Babylon feeling worthless and lost only to hear the prophet speak a strong word of hope concerning their future. Jerusalem will be restored. It will be seen by the world as the dwelling place of God. Its glory will be restored. And, more importantly, a time of peace, prosperity, and divine blessing will be ushered into reality.
No one would have dared hope for so much. They might have hoped that their children would see Jerusalem again. Maybe some even dared to hope they might see it once again with their own eyes, but surely, no one hoped for much more. Anything else would have seemed to them as something impossible. Their memories of the homeland were filled with images of ruin and destruction and disruption of all their sacred traditions. Those things could never be changed.
Yet, through Isaiah, this ancient man of God, they were called to a hope far greater than those fueled by memories of reality. Surely, it was hard for them, as it is for us, to have that kind of hope. Many of us live in a world of dashed dreams, broken promises, and deep heart wounds which seem to defy healing. The One who dared the broken Hebrews to hope calls us to the same hope. It is not foolishness to live with hope instead of despair. The hope we are called to embrace is not one based on circumstances, but on the God who has this vision of a future greater than our expectations. Even now He seeks to move us into it.