Consider the plight of the bold believers in England as the Reformation flared up there, then died back, only to flame forth again. Faithful ministers were hounded from their pulpits and humble saints beheaded for their faith, taunted as “Puritans.” Yet, as before, the evangelical faith shook itself and arose, bringing forth the Puritan hope and the explosion of a massive Christian missionary outreach. In their earnest hope of serving God without constraints, Puritans migrated to the New World to establish “a city set on a hill.”
EARTHLY HOPE IN THE PRESENT
Of course, once again we today look around with growing despair and a deepening concern. Christian influence is waning in America. We hear tragic reports of various evils in this land and in the world. What are we to think? Shall our hope fade with the troubling news? May it never be! As did lonely Abram of old, we must advance in hope of God’s will being effected in the earth that belongs to Him. We should be encouraged by the continuing historical resilience of our faith. What a “great cloud of witnesses” has preceded us!
We must remember the bold hope of Jeremiah. He looked beyond the dismal events of his day, his eyes penetrating the clouds of despair. He was so confident that the earthly future was in God’s hands that he purchased a piece of land in doomed Israel (Jer. 32). He believed that history was indeed “His story,” not man’s.
We must have a hope like that of righteous Simeon. His longed-for Messiah had not come despite hundreds of years of prophetic hope. Yet like Abram and Jeremiah before him, he continued in hope. He confidently awaited the Messiah in the temple of God: “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, looking for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). And what became of his hope? He saw in the baby Jesus “ ‘Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel’ ” (Luke 2:30b–32).
Ultimately, of course, we must draw our hope for the earthly future not from “below the sun,” feeding it solely from a historical tributary. After all, we do not yet see the end result; we can trace only the slow, developing providence of God through the shifting sands of time. Yet we know that He has promised that His kingdom will grow imperceptibly in the earth, like a budding twig (Ezek. 17:22–24), a growing stream (Ezek. 47:1–12), a developing mustard seed (Matt. 13:31–32), penetrating leaven (Matt. 13:33), or a sprouting seed (Mark 4:26–29). We must draw our hope from above the sun, from the light of God’s revelation in the prophetic Scriptures. We should no more be discouraged in our hope of the conquest of our faith in the earth because it has not yet transpired in fullness than we should despair regarding the Lord’s return simply because He has not yet done so. We must have a hope in the future.