* October 26 - November 1
The Hope of Our Hope
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 1 Corinthians 15; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 21:3, 4.
MEMORY TEXT: "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior" (Micah 7:7, NIV).
KEY QUESTIONS: We say that we have hope, but what is that hope? What does it entail? What does it mean? What is the hope of our hope?
WHATEVER GOOD THINGS WE ENJOY in this life, whatever their pleasures, whatever their accomplishments, they are all always temporary and always tempered by the bad. No one, not even the happiest, lives without some pain, some fear, some suffering.
Our great hope, however, is that this life isn't all that we have; whether good or bad, whether long or short, whether happy or sad, our earthly sojourn is only a spasm compared to what awaits us.
This is the hope of our hope, and it is a powerful hope. So powerful, in fact, that it should change us from how we live now.
This week we'll look at a few lives, lives that in many respects might not be that different from our own, in that these people, like us, faced trials, pain, and death. The hope of their hope, like ours, was that something wonderful awaits them after all the bad things they endured. If that hope can't change us, nothing will.
*Please study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, Nov. 2.
Sunday October 27
Frenchman Blaise Pascal wrote: "One needs no great sublimity of soul to realize that in this life there is no true and solid satisfaction, that all our pleasures are mere vanity, that our afflictions are infinite, and finally that death. . . threatens us at every moment.
"Let us ponder these things, and then say whether it is not beyond doubt that the only good thing in this life is the hope of another life, that we become happy only as we come nearer to it."Pensées, Dr. A. J. Krailsheimer, translator (England: The Penguin Group, 1995), p. 129.
What is Pascal saying? Do you agree or disagree? How do the following texts relate to the above quote? What do these texts say, and how do they fit in with the overall picture of the Advent hope?
Eccles. 1:14 _____________________________________________________________
Lam. 3:26 _______________________________________________________________
Luke 21:28 _____________________________________________________________
James 4:14 _____________________________________________________________
The Advent hope is not just a doctrine, not just a future event; it is, rather, a belief that should make a difference in how we live, here and now. Or, at least, we say that it should. But why should it?
Write down at least three reasons why the hope in the Second Coming, in a new life in a new world, should impact our life in this world now. In Sabbath School, compare answers. (For example, how does this hope impact our response to death?)
|In the past few days (or weeks), what was something you did that you would have done differently, or perhaps not at all, had you not the hope and promise of the Second Coming? If you can't think of anything, what should that tell you about the status of your walk with the Lord?|
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Annie Smith, sister of Uriah Smith, was an early Adventist who had experienced the disappointment of 1844. She drifted away from religion but then became associated with the Adventists who were keeping the Sabbath. She assisted in publishing pamphlets and papers, preferring this work to a well-paid teaching post. She seems to have had a sad experience in love and then developed tuberculosis, which took her life when she was twenty-seven years old.
A sad life? Perhaps, at least from a rather narrow humanistic perspective. On the other hand, Annie wrote many hymns and poems that captured her assurance of hopea truly living hope that transcends anything life itself as now lived in this sinful world could ever offer.
For example, there is her hymn on the blessed hope, "I Saw One Weary" (The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal [Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assoc., 1985], p. 441). The last verse reads:
While pilgrims here we journey on
In this dark vale of sin and gloom,
Through tribulation, hate, and scorn,
O! what can buoy the spirits up?
'Tis this alonethe blessed hope.
Here is the verse that inspired these words: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). The Greek word for "blessed" (makarion) can be translated "happy." What is it about the promise of the returning King that can make us happy, even now, even amid "this dark vale of sin and gloom"?
The day before she died, Annie penned her own epitaph: "I long now to rest in the lone, quiet tomb; for the footsteps of Jesus have lightened its gloom; I die in the hope of soon meeting again the friends that I love, with Him ever to reign."
|Unless we are translated when Christ returns, one thing is certain, and that is our death . Keeping in mind the blessed or happy hope that awaits us, pen (as Annie Smith did) your own epitaph, but do it in light of Titus 2:13.|
James White pointed to the blessed hope when he wrote a letter to a friend whose wife had just died: "What can I say to cheer your mind and bind up your wounded spirit? I can point you to the Kingdom of immortal glory when Jesus shall come to raise your dear companion, and change you and your children, if you are all faithful till Jesus comes. To that bright prospect I invite, I beseech, you to look."James White, unpublished letter to Leonard Hastings, March 18, 1850.
James seems to be saying this: No matter how tired, how discouraged, how sorrowful and sore you become, do not give up, do not stop hoping, do not stop trusting, do not stop believing, because the moment you do, you are in danger of making it all for nothing when according to God's purposes it is all for something, something in the end so wonderful and perfect and happy and harmonious that we can only begin to dare to envision. He seems to be saying do not go by moods, by feelings, by the flow of hormones, but only by the raw, naked promises of a God who cannot lie and who has promiseda promise sealed in the blood of Jesusthat we will live again in a world without a single element of what makes this one so painful.
Look at these verses: "I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: 'Now God's home is with mankind! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared' "(Rev. 21:3, 4, TEV). Study these words in the context in which they were written, analyze them, and answer the following questions:
1. Has not God made His home with humanity before? (See Exod. 25:8; John 1:14.) What did it mean then, and what does it mean in the above verses?
2. "They shall be His people." Have there already, even before heaven (Lev. 26:12; 2 Cor. 6:16-18), been those who have been His people? If so, then what does the above text mean when God calls those in heaven "His people"? Is the promise in Revelation, perhaps, merely the fullest manifestation of the promise as it appeared earlier?
3. The text says that "the old things have disappeared." What "old things" is it referring to?
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:17-22).
What is Paul teaching here? To get the fuller picture, read his words in the context of the entire chapter. Write down a quick summary of his main point:
José, a lay member from a church in the highlands of Guatemala, shares his perspective on hope. "I have believed for a long time that Jesus will come. But I have not stopped hoping. I know that Jesus will come in His time, and so I think of that every morning and evening as I have my time of prayer. Sometimes, when I get discouraged, I like to think about what happened at Jesus' resurrection, and I claim the promises that just as He was resurrected from death, I will one day be too. Otherwise, what hope do I have, either for myself or to share with others? Most of all, this hope gives life meaning now. We are here to think and learn and read the Bible, so that when Jesus comes we can be together with Him and be happy forever. Hope is simple, but it's very important."
|What did José mean when he said that "most of all, this hope gives life meaning now"? Why does the hope of eternity with Christ give our lives meaning? Think of your answer in the context of the verses quoted above from 1 Corinthians, particularly in light of Paul's notion that if our hope is in vain, we are the most miserable of men. Was not Paul, in his own way, saying something similar to José? How does Christ's resurrection from the dead give meaning to our lives, even now? Just as important, how should your life be changed because you have that hope?|
"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel" (Col. 1:4, 5).
Romanian teenager Lena spoke of her excitement in discovering hope. "I never knew before that God would come back to this planet Himself, real and personal. At first I was scared of the thought that God would come, but now I know He is coming to take His faithful ones back home with Him. I am so happy to think of that day, and I am telling all my friends that this will be the best thing for them, too. Thanks to Jesus, I have so much faith, hope, and love."
Notice how Lena linked together faith, hope, and love. Read Colossians 1:4, 5. Notice that Paul does the same thing. How do you understand the link between them? See also 1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 5:5, 6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and then write a few lines on what you see as the relationship between faith and hope and love.
Faith, hope, and love are internal attributes; they are movements of the heart, hues and tones of the mind. They aren't, however, natural attributes. They come only from God, who does not force these into us but, instead, offers them to those who are willing to receive. We have to, day by day, surrender ourselves to the Lord, who can, because of what Jesus did, give us the hope that will express itself in faith and love. But to have that hope, we must make it our own; we may internalize and personalize it, drawing for ourselves the peace, happiness, and sense of purpose that come from such a hope. Only then will it make a dramatic difference in our lives; only then can we fully appreciate the hope that we have in Jesus.
Read Galatians 2:20. Notice how personal Paul made his understanding of what Christ did for him, how personal this hope was. What can you do for yourself to help personalize and internalize the hope that we have in Jesus, as did Paul? How can you make it your own?
FURTHER STUDY: The Hope of Hope: Testimonials.
"This is the 'lively hope,' the living hope, that we have by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3. There is no element of doubt or uncertainty in it. The Christian's hope is no vague longing after something in the dim and uncertain future, but a firm grasp of that which is, as well as is to come. This is not simply 'the larger hope,' but the largest hope; for we are taught to believe that God's mercy is upon us according as we hope in him. Ps. 33:22. Then let abiding hope abound."Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, June 24, 1902.
"We are glad that our Lord, in whom we believe and trust, will soon return to earth for His waiting people; that then we shall be forever with Him, our loving Redeemer; that then there will no longer be sin to separate from God; that then we shall meet the dear loved and lost ones, never again to say, 'Farewell.' An eternal life, an eternal home, in the kingdom of our God! 'Blessed hope!'
"Oh, we long to be there! We are tired of the sins, and temptations, and weariness, the painful disappointments, the separations, and the tears, of this sin-burdened earth. We want to go home to our Father's house."J. M. Hopkins, Review and Herald, May 13, 1920.
SUMMARY: Living the life of hope means making hope central. Hope as a perspective on our future is essential and gives meaning and purpose. It says where we are going and gives us confidence to make a difference and help those around us.
Galena lives in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. During Communist times, she had no use for God or religion. She had held a good position with a handsome income. She thought she was happy. Then Communism fell; her income ceased, and her life seemed to crumble. Then her precious grandson became seriously ill, and the doctors didn't think he would survive. Galena spent everything she had trying to save his life, but still the boy remained dangerously ill.
One night she had a dream. She saw a radiant-looking Person who asked her, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
She replied, "Heal my grandson. I will give you four lambs in four different holy places," she said, reflecting the Orthodox church's tradition of giving sacrificial lambs as in the Old Testament.
"I don't want anything from you except love," the radiant Person replied. Galena glanced at her grandson sleeping in the corner and realized that he already had been healed.
How should I worship God? she wondered. Then she saw herself sitting in a room in a house where someone was talking about the Bible. She awoke quite shaken by the dream but with no idea what it meant. She tried to remember details of the dream, but she could not.
A short time later a friend invited Galena to attend church with her. Galena was surprised to see that the Christians met in a room of an ordinary house. She wondered if this was the house she had seen in her dream. She continued attending the church.
One Sunday the pastor introduced Pastor Namoradze, who would preach in the pastor's absence. Galena stared at the visitor in disbelief. This was the man in her dream!
When Galena learned that Pastor Namoradze was an Adventist minister with his own house church, she asked if she could worship with his congregation. He warmly welcomed her. When she arrived, she recognized it as the one she had seen in her dream. Galena knew she was home!
Conditions in Georgia are difficult. Unemployment, crime, drugs, and poverty are common. The average wage is $3 a month, but a loaf of bread costs 25 cents. Four of the seven young men in Pastor Namoradze's church are former drug addicts. "Our life is not easy," Pastor Namoradze said. "We have no electricity, no gas, no heat, no water. But we will survive; we have Jesus."
Barbara Huff recently retired as administrative secretary in the EuroAsia Division. She and her husband, Lee, live in Florida.
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