Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jesus gives hope to the hopeless.

Six hundred years ago, the situation in Judah looked hopeless. The Babylonian army, under the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar, invaded the land of Judah. The land was pillaged; ten thousand of the land’s prominent and gifted individuals were deported. Among them were the prophet Daniel and also a young priest by the name of Ezekiel. A short time later, the city of Jerusalem itself would lie in ruins. Its wealth deposited in the vaults of Babylon. The walls which provided safety for centuries were destroyed. The temple of Solomon, where sacrifices were once offered to God, was demolished. The situation looked hopeless.
That’s when God took Ezekiel out to look at a valley covered with bones (Ez. 37). They surveyed the valley several times and saw myriads of bones which were very dry and bleached by the sun. The Lord asked Ezekiel if it were possible for these bones to live. From a human point of view, there was no way! Ezekiel knew that God could make it happen and replied, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
It wasn’t long before the bones began to move and connect themselves together. Tendons, sinew, and muscles made the joints secure and skin once again covered them. Then the Lord gave them life. When he did, an army stood before Ezekiel ready for battle.
The Lord told Ezekiel that these dried out bones were the people of Israel. They were dead spiritually and politically. The ten tribes which made up the Northern kingdom of Israel were taken captive 150 years before. Judah to the South lay in ruins and its people deported. In spite of this, God would bring them back to life. 70 years later, Cyrus would allow Jews to return home, rebuild their walls, the city, and the temple. Things weren’t as hopeless as they seemed.
300 years after that, the Savior would be born in Bethlehem of Judea in fulfillment of God’s promises of a Savior. He gave those promises to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and many more. On Pentecost Sunday, he turned a small band of disciples, 120 in number, into a large and growing army of witnesses as the Holy Spirit brought 3,000 to faith in one afternoon.
When we look at the spiritual decline in our country, at the vast number of unbelievers in the world, we may feel like our situation is hopeless. “How will things ever change” we might ask? When we look at our how lives, we may feel the same way. “My life is just not turning out the way I thought it would and it doesn’t look like it will get any better.” “My marriage is just not working.” We tried to raise our children right, but they rebelled. Did we fail? Will they come back?
We face situations all the time that leave us discouraged, disappointed, depressed, and hopeless. Truth is – they are only hopeless if we leave God out of the picture. God shows us throughout history that he can and will help us. That truth gives us hope. Thank God!