The Bible we read is a book of hope. The hope it gives us is not moderate, average or normal. It doesn’t inspire us toward the status quo, to merely survive and get by. The hope of God’s Word is expressed in powerful promises that lead to unimaginable results from God’s own hand. That hope leads us to destinations far beyond our wildest expectations.
In Jeremiah 32, the prophet describes a dire scene. Jerusalem was surrounded by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army. Outside the city, the enemy was building large mounts to send their troops over the walls. Any Israelite who looked down on this scene was surely filled with a sense of doom.
Jeremiah was one of them. As the terrible scene unfolded, the prophet had to watch from a prison cell.
The great promises that God has given us through Jesus are beyond anything a human could think or imagine. He has freed us from bondage and slavery to sin. He has placed us beside himself in heavenly places. He has given us our identity in him. If these incredible promises don’t build up our confidence, there’s something wrong with our view of God. It means we’re not seeing his glory as fully and clearly as we should.
The prophet Isaiah pronounced a woe on Israel: “‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 30:1, NKJV). The Hebrew word Isaiah uses for “rebellious” means backsliding, stubbornness, a turning away. What, exactly, were God’s people turning away from? And what caused their backsliding?
Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, a group of religious people got so mad at him that they tried to kill him. While preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, the town where he grew up, Jesus said something so offensive to his listeners that they formed a lynch mob.
“And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47, NKJV).
My friend the evangelist Nicky Cruz calls the church a Holy Ghost hospital. I couldn’t agree more. The church is and should be a place of healing. In my decades as a pastor, I’ve counseled a lot of people who needed restoration after lifelong heartbreak.
Jesus foresaw a crisis of belief when he asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NKJV). Our Lord knew many would lose their faith in the last days. Paul spoke of this as well, writing, “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). In fact, Paul warned Timothy to hold fast to his faith because so many believers “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1:19).
When Christians hear the phrase “Upper Room,” one of two biblical scenarios comes to mind. For charismatics and Pentecostals, the predominant sequence happens in Acts 1 and 2. In Chapter 1, the disciples gathered in the upper room of a house, and “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14, ESV). Then, in Chapter 2, things get really dramatic.
I’m convinced we can’t fully obey God’s Word until we understand why the Lord calls for perfect obedience. Why does God demand this? Is it because he’s a despot, a tyrant who delights in placing heavy yokes and burdens on his people? No, not at all. Jesus tells us the burden he places on us is light and easy (Matthew 11:30). His commands aren’t grievous.