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Sharing Scripture — October 22, 2022

The Old Testament Hope

 

For use: October 16 – 22, 2022
Texts: Job 19:25-27; 1 Timothy 6:16; Psalm 49, 71; Isaiah 26:14, 19; Daniel 12

 

Few natural disasters to hit the United States were more devastating than Hurricane Ian, which hit Fort Myers, Florida with sustained winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph short of a category 5 storm. The aftermath of the storm left residents with demolished homes, few possessions, and even less hope.

“It’s a heartbreaking thing to watch to know that right now nearly all of Southwest Florida, especially in Lee County, is still in a food and water emergency,” reports Next Level Church Pastor Matt Keller.

Next Level Church in Fort Myers is partnering with the Florida Police Benevolent Association to get non-perishable food, bottled water, cleaning supplies and generators to their residents.

Even though the tangible supplies are life-saving necessities, Pastor Keller claims the most important commodity they distribute is a feeling: “We’re just trying to offer hope as best we can.”

The necessity of hope cannot be overstated. Holocaust survivor and Viennese psychologist Viktor Frankle observed in the death camps that the loss of hope often led to the loss of life. [1]

We don’t typically see the Old Testament as a book of hope. Many of the Old Testament stories and prophecies appear to focus on the failures of God’s people and the resulting devastation and destruction. We turn to the New Testament for uplifting stories and encouragement. But actually, glimpses of hope can be found throughout both testaments.

As in the New Testament, the Old Testament hope usually focuses on resurrection as the ultimate goal. Through Job’s intense suffering, he grasped the hope of the resurrection with the vision that “in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-27). The Psalmist knew that “God will redeem my life from the grave” (Psalm 49:15). Even in the midst of Isaiah’s prophecies of destruction due to Israel’s unfaithfulness, God gave hope with the promise that “Your dead will live; their bodies will rise” (Isaiah 26:19). And Daniel saw that “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake” (Daniel 12:2). The one caveat to all of these promises of hope is that, to receive the promised resurrection blessing, the recipient must first die.

That hope still resonates today. It’s challenging to see a better day coming in the midst of our economic and social upheavals, but God did not abandon the Old Testament people and God has not and will not abandon us today. Even though we face daily struggles and our own eventual mortality, the promise of the blessed hope of Jesus’ return and our resurrection to eternal life still stands.

For Reflection

 

Connecting: Have you ever helped someone turn their hopeless situation into a positive outcome? How did you feel once the situation was resolved?

Sharing: What gives you the best assurance of the certainty of the resurrection?

1. I have seen God work in my life in several practical ways, and that assures me that God will fulfill the promise of the resurrection

2. I believe the scriptural records of those whom Jesus resurrected from the dead, and they give me faith in the future resurrection

3. Paul’s resurrection prophecies in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 are all I need

4. Honestly, I’m not sure about the future resurrection, but I hope it’s true

5. Whether the resurrection is true or not, I believe living a Christian life here and now is still the best life possible for me

6. Other:

Applying: Resurrection hope can seem like pie in the sky to unbelievers. What are some practical ways that you can show Jesus in action in your life so that others may open up to learn about your faith?

Valuing: What challenges are you facing right now that dampen your hope in the future? Does the concept of resurrection and eternal life seem to fade in the light of your present struggles? Take time this week to reflect on the future reality that God promises to you, and grasp that hope as God’s certain plan for your life.

 

~Chuck Burkeen[1] Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (Washington Square Press, 1984), pp. 96, 97.

 

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