Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5, NKJV)
Before and during the days of Jeremiah, Jerusalem and Judah had trusted in powerless idols, shaped and fashioned after the will and imaginations of men, to sustain protect them and bless them. The idolatrous “altars and their wooden images” exposed their sins to God’s just and fiery punishment (Jer. 17:1-4). God made their sins and punishment very clear to them. It is always thus when one “trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.” One is left to a barren wasteland, void of spiritual blessings when the heart departs from the Lord: “For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited” (Jer. 17:6). Many think they can survive without God, trusting in themselves and others. Instead of this, one should trust the Lord and follow His will: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jer. 17:7). Doing so brings spiritual life, protection, and productivity, “like a tree planted by the waters…” (Jer. 17:8). When we trust in men instead of God we are living with a “this world” perspective. Trusting in God means we put our faith in the true God and look beyond this world. By faith, we live for eternal realms of glory (Heb. 11:13-16). Our hope is in the Lord.
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. (Lamentations 3:25–27, NKJV)
Jeremiah ponders the goodness of God’s mercies, compassion, and faithfulness in the midst of the overwhelming sorrow of Jerusalem’s demise (due to her sins against the Lord, Lam. 3:22-24; 1:1-5). When sorrow comes into our lives, hope waits and seeks the Lord (v. 25). When we put our trust in the Lord and His sovereign will, He will send His salvation (v. 26). Youthful vigor must overcome impatience that burdens can aggravate and intensify (v. 27). God’s goodness will not overlook sin (as His punishment against Jerusalem shows). But, when we will abandon our sin and turn to the Lord, He will abundantly pardon (Isa. 55:7). The gospel of Christ explains how to receive His salvation (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 3:19). God is good, and it is good for us to hope in Him, to wait quietly for His salvation, and to bear our burdens (Matt. 11:28-30).
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:13–15, NKJV)
Old age does not prevent bearing fruit for the Lord. When one’s life is rooted in God’s house (a Christian in His church, 1 Tim. 3:15), age does not prevent us from declaring the righteousness of God and the solid foundation of security we have in Him. When age is coupled with faith in the living God we do not lose heart, for “even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16, 17-18). There is much you can do in the kingdom as an elderly Christian. You can pray earnestly and keep your hope firmly fixed on the Lord (Psa. 71:1-14). You can rejoice in God’s salvation and worship God continually (Psa. 71:8, 22-23). Like Simeon and Anna, you can speak God’s truth to others and tell the next generation of God’s strength and mercy (Psa. 71:18-20; Lk. 2:25-32, 36-38). What a marvelous and encouraging influence older Christians have as they faithfully assemble for worship, wisely teach and counsel from God’s word, and live in the hope of eternity! Although our bodies are growing drier and weaker, our faith will be fresh and flourish as we trust the Lord and do His will each day. The legacy you will leave is a life of faith and heavenly treasures in the Lord (Matt. 6:19-21).
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4, NKJV)
Hope is more than desire. It is also an expectation of things to come. A popular song says, “Everybody want to go to heaven, but nobody want to go now.” Its lyrics depict a wholly worldly value of life on earth and of the life to come. While some search for “heaven on earth,” others envision heaven as living their best moment on earth over and over. Both are illusions formed by the fantasies of human imagination. The gospel of Christ provides a singular hope that unites all who heed its call. “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance” that is “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for Christians (Eph. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:4-5). (Note that heaven’s inheritance is obtained “in Christ,” not in the world.) Ours is a “living hope” that combines desire and expectation “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3). Hope in Christ is our refuge that anchors our souls through life’s storms (Heb. 6:18-19). The hope that unites Christians is “laid up for you in heaven,” and is found “in the word of the truth of the gospel” which calls us out of sin’s death into a life of grace and truth (Col. 1:5-6). The Lord Jesus Christ is “our hope,” for what He has promised, He will fulfill (1 Tim. 1:1). Our sure hope is that where Jesus is now, we will be with Him throughout eternity (Jno. 14:1-3). This is why we put your hope in Christ, not in the fleeting and false hopes of the world (Eph. 2:12-13). We urge you to also put your hope in Christ.
30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Corinthians 15:30–32, NKJV)
Our hope in Christ transcends this life. His empty tomb forever declares Him to be the Son of God with power over death, assuring us that we will be raised by His power in the last day (Rom. 1:4; John 5:28-29). Lives lived without hope in Christ are pitiable. There would be absolutely no reason to suffer deprivation or sacrifice one’s safety for the sake of Christ if the dead are not raised. What a pitiful existence that would be (1 Cor. 15:19-20)! The hedonistic culture of Corinth indulged the desires of the flesh because, after all (as the unbelievers reasoned), “tomorrow we die.” Indeed, that philosophy would be appealing “if the dead do not rise” (v. 32). But, such a view of life cannot and will not satisfy the soul (Matt. 16:26; Psa. 42:1). Our longing for meaning in life is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jno. 14:6). So, be strengthened in your faith and do not give in to fleshly allurements. Neither yield to false doctrines that deny the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was raised, and we shall be, too. Suffer every danger and sacrifice every comfort necessary to gain Christ, and attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:7-11).
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–14, NKJV)
What is going to happen when Jesus returns? Bible teachers tell us all sorts of different things. Some say Jesus is coming back invisibly before a great tribulation, later to return visibly to defeat evil and reign on earth 1,000 years. Others deny the future bodily resurrection completely. Many beliefs of what will happen are somewhere in-between. We believe we can learn from the Bible what will happen when Jesus returns. By letting more simple passages enlighten us on the more complex, we can understand God’s word and live by faith (2 Pet. 3:16-18). In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Holy Spirit gives us snapshot of what Christians will experience when Jesus returns. (Other passages explain events that will include unbelievers, like Matt. 25:31-46, Rom. 2:5-11, Heb. 9:27, and many more.) Christians are not overwhelmed with hopeless sorrow when fellow-Christians die (fall asleep). Those who “sleep in Jesus” (dead Christians, v. 14) will certainly rise again, just as Jesus did.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17–18, NKJV)
Envy involves misplaced zeal. Becoming agitated and activated to compare yourself with the advantages of sinners robs you of fervor that ought to be directed toward fearing God and trusting Him. Envy is strong displeasure caused by observing the prosperity of others. It drives a person to even try to deprive a person of what he has. Envying sinners reveals a heart that is not fearing God because it is consumed with brooding and grieving over the temporal advantages of others. The psalmist “nearly slipped” when he “was envious of the boastful” and “saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). He experienced the pain and pride of envy until he remembered the goodness of God and the end result of the wicked person (Psalm 73:1, 16-28). Remember your hope is in the hereafter, not the here and now (Psalm 37:1-4). The wicked will face accountability on the day of judgment, and so will those who have envied them. Direct your zeal toward fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). By doing so your life will be blessed with sure hope and a heart free of envy.