Rejoicing in “the God Who Gives Hope”
“You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.”—Ps. 71:5.
1, 2. (a) What Scriptural evidence do we have that God cares for us? (b) How may our joy be made full?
DO YOU pause at times to reflect on your precious relationship with God? How thrilling it is to know that God cares for us! True, from Jehovah’s standpoint the nations are as a mere drop from a bucket. So, as individuals, we must seem very small to him indeed. However, Jesus Christ assures us: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.”—Matt. 10:29-31; Isa. 40:15.
2 If God notes the fall of a sparrow, how much more compassion must he have for us humans, whom he created in his own likeness! (Gen. 1:26) Our God is truly magnificent in his wisdom and creative power, but he is far grander in his caring for the just cause of oppressed ones and in showing the expansiveness of his love toward mankind. (Ps. 33:4, 5) It is indeed a privilege that we may enter into and remain in his love, in line with Jesus’ assurance: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” And Jesus added: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made full.”—John 15:10, 11.
3. Why did David, and why may we, have full confidence in Jehovah?
3 In these critical times, we can rejoice also that our loving God provides hope. It appears that David penned the 71st Psalm 71 after passing through hard trials, and therein he extols the Sovereign Lord Jehovah as his hope and confidence from youth. For example, when facing up to the lumbering giant Goliath, David declared: “Jehovah, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he it is who will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Jehovah did just that! (1 Sam. 17:37, 45-50) And to this day Jehovah continues to uphold the anointed remnant of his witnesses who, strong in hope, have served him faithfully ‘from their youth.’
NEED FOR A LIVING HOPE
4. Why are the things “written aforetime” a source of hope?
4 The long-range promises of Jehovah, as recorded in his Word, are indeed a source of confident hope for the future. As the apostle Paul states: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) Certainly, we need to have hope. But how do the things “written aforetime” give reason for hope? In the first place, why did a need for hope arise?
5. (a) How did the need for hope arise? (b) Why did our first parents rightly incur the death penalty, and why are we involved?
5 The things “written aforetime” relate clearly how God created our first parents and placed them in a paradise of pleasure, with the prospect of living forever and populating the earth with loving, happy humans who would never die. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7-9, 18-25) However, Adam and Eve lost this privilege. Why? It was because they sinned, missing the mark of perfect obedience to their Father, Jehovah God. Rightly, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah sentenced the disobedient couple to death. They had become self-willed, independent, and there was no longer a place for them among Jehovah’s loyal creatures. Moreover, they incurred the death penalty not only for themselves but also for the billions of children who would be born from these sinful parents. As Paul tells us: “That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
6. On the basis of what hope did the creation become enslaved?
6 However, Paul goes on to say that, though “the creation was subjected to futility,” this was “on the basis of hope.” What hope? Why, a living hope that it would be “set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God,” just as our first parents enjoyed such freedom in the paradise of Eden. It would include hope of everlasting life. Only God could provide such a hope.—Rom. 8:20, 21; John 17:3.
HOPE IN THE “SEED”
7. How is the “seed” of promise identified?
7 Early in the things “written aforetime” we read God’s promise that the “seed [offspring]” of his wifelike organization in heaven will “bruise [the serpent] in the head,” that is, destroy Satan, together with all his brood. (Gen. 3:14, 15) But who is this “seed”? He is spoken of later as being the “seed” also of God’s friend Abraham, by means of which seed “all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” The apostle Paul identifies this “seed,” saying: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. . . . ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ.”—Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16.
8. (a) How was Jesus’ life course on earth foretold long in advance? (b) How was God’s love for mankind demonstrated?
8 The things “written aforetime” foretold the life course of Christ Jesus while here on earth. As Isaiah prophesied more than 700 years beforehand, Jesus was despised, held of no account, afflicted and “brought just like a sheep to the slaughtering.” In harmony with his Father’s will, “he poured out his soul” in death, so that he might ransom “many people” from bondage to sin. (Isa. 53:3-12) Jehovah raised him from the dead and installed him as “Chief Agent of life” in the heavens, “that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.” God has made this provision because He “loved the world [of mankind] so much.” (John 3:15, 16; Acts 3:15) What a marvelous hope this has opened up!—John 5:24-29.
A SOUND BASIS FOR HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE
9. (a) What guarantees our hope? (b) How should our hope affect us?
9 Our well-founded hope is guaranteed by the very name of our God, Jehovah. That name means “He Causes to Become,” indicating that he makes specific things happen in the outworking of his purposes. He is the God “who cannot lie” and who provides “the basis of a hope . . . promised before times long lasting.” (Titus 1:2) What does that hope mean to you? Do you regard it as the people of Christendom regard their religion—as a formalism to which they give mere lip service? Or have you, deep down in your heart, dedicated your whole person, your whole life, to “the God who gives hope”? (Rom. 15:13) Has that hope become so strong to you that already it seems like a reality? If so, then it has become your faith—a faith that will be alive with good works in witnessing to others about your hope.—Heb. 11:1; Jas. 2:17.
10. (a) What adds substance to our hope? (b) Why should anointed Christians now rejoice in their hope?
10 Even as our Sovereign Lord Jehovah lives forever, so his promises provide a basis for a “living hope.” And his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, “because of continuing alive forever,” adds substance to that hope, for “he is able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.” (Heb. 7:24, 25) Thus, the apostle Peter wrote to anointed Christians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time. In this fact you are greatly rejoicing.” (1 Pet. 1:3-6) Now that we have reached the “last period of time,” there is compelling reason for anointed Christians to rejoice in that hope.
11. (a) What “living hope” do the “great crowd” also have? (b) What firm foundation is there to that hope?
11 However, what of the “great crowd, . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” who look forward to everlasting life in a paradise earth? Theirs, also, is a “living hope,” for the promise to them is: “They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of [God’s] throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:9, 16, 17) Those hoping in such “good news” will not be disappointed, for it is founded solidly in God’s inspired Word. Quoting Isaiah 40:8, the apostle Peter said of “the word of the living and enduring God”: “ ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like a blossom of grass; the grass becomes withered, and the flower falls off, but the saying of Jehovah endures forever.’ Well, this is the ‘saying,’ this which has been declared to you as good news.”—1 Pet. 1:23-25.
12. How generous is God in bestowing everlasting life?
12 In describing himself as the fine shepherd who “surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep,” Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.” (John 10:10, 11) This generosity is not limited to the “little flock,” who become joint heirs with Christ in the heavens. (Luke 12:32) No, indeed, for Jesus said: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd. And I give them everlasting life.” (John 10:16, 28) In addition to the “great crowd” who expect to pass alive through the “great tribulation,” there will be faithful servants of pre-Christian times and the billions of other human dead who will be resurrected on earth with prospects of everlasting life. (Matt. 24:21; Heb. 11:35; Rev. 20:12) How generous is our God in making this provision for life!
13. How is God’s love toward mankind expressed, and how should this affect us?
13 Jehovah’s generosity in expressing his love toward humans is reflected also in Jesus’ earlier words: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world [adversely], but for the world to be saved through him. He that exercises faith in him is not to be judged.” (John 3:16-18) Since Jehovah and his Son are so generous, should we not be generous, also, in making known this grand “good news” to others?
14. (a) Why are the nations as having “no hope”? (b) How are our faith and “living hope” reflected?
14 In doing this, we share in “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to walk in them.” No longer are we like those whom Paul described as “strangers to the covenants of the promise” and as having “no hope” and being “without God in the world.” No longer do we walk “just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts.” (Eph. 2:10, 12; 4:17, 18) No, for we now walk with God, and our “good works,” which feature preaching and teaching the “good news,” reflect our faith and the “living hope” that overflows in our hearts.—Matt. 4:17; 5:16; 9:35; 24:14.
HOPE OF A RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT
15. (a) Why is good government necessary to our having a “living hope”? (b) What encouraging prophecy did Isaiah record in this regard?
15 Our living hope embraces much more than the prospect of everlasting life. Consider: How enjoyable would it be to live forever under cruel and oppressive human governments, such as have ruled so often throughout history? Some would prefer death to such slavery. Happily, the living hope of God’s people includes hope of a righteous government, the Kingdom for which Christians have long prayed, and which will sanctify Jehovah’s name and cause his will to “take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:9, 10) In his long-range preparation of that kingdom, Jehovah used King David of Israel to typify Christ Jesus in His role as King. The prophet Isaiah described that One as “Prince of Peace,” saying: “To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—Isa. 9:6, 7.
16. What assurance did Gabriel and the psalmist give concerning the Kingdom?
16 More than 1,000 years later, the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin, Mary, telling her: “You have found favor with God; and, look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, . . . and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:30-33) So this “Son of the Most High” provides not only the way of salvation to everlasting life but also blessings through his kingdom. This government will rule all mankind in righteousness and bring peace in abundance to its subjects earth wide.—Ps. 72:1-8.
17. Why, then, should we “abound in hope,” and how may we express that hope?
17 Referring once more to the things “written aforetime,” the apostle Paul writes: “Again Isaiah says: ‘There will be the root of Jesse [David’s father], and there will be one arising to rule nations; on him nations will rest their hope.’ May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.” (Rom. 15:12, 13) Indeed, our hoping in God’s kingdom by Christ is a source of rejoicing and peace of heart, and as we abound in that hope, we are encouraged to proclaim that hope to others, in the strength that God’s spirit provides.—Zech. 4:6; Isa. 40:28-31.
18. What glowing preview does Isaiah give concerning the Kingdom?
18 In speaking of “the root of Jesse,” Paul was quoting from Isaiah chapter 11, which gives this glowing preview of Christ’s Kingdom rule: “Upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah; and there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah. And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth.” After describing the peacefulness of the spiritual paradise that God’s people enjoy even today, as though the wild beasts of earth have been tamed, the prophecy declares: “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” What a glorious hope! No wonder it is that many from the nations are turning inquiringly to “the root of Jesse,” the enthroned Jesus, who is “standing up as a signal for the peoples.”—Isa 11 Vss. 1-10.
19. Why, now especially, should we rejoice in hope?
19 Since the eventful year 1914, mankind has been living through “the conclusion of the system of things.” “The Son of man” has arrived, and all the angels with him, to sit down on his glorious heavenly throne. He has proceeded to gather the nations for judgment and to “separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” For the nations and the “goats” it is a time of hopeless distress, but for obedient sheeplike humans it is a time to ‘raise themselves erect and lift their heads up, because their deliverance is getting near.’—Matt. 24:3-8; 25:31-34; Luke 21:26-28.
20. In doing what may we now endure in hope?
20 However, endurance is needed in order that we may realize the fulfillment of the hope. As these “last days” draw toward their close, we need to view things as Jesus did, as Paul admonished: “May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5, 6) May we continue, then, “with one accord” and “with one mouth,” serving with endurance, as we preach this good news of the Kingdom “for a witness to all the nations,” confident that “then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:13, 14) Yes, may we place unshakable confidence in our Sovereign Lord Jehovah, the “God who gives hope.”
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“Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.”—Rom. 5:12.
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.