Summary: God gives his people hope
Hope for the Future
Intro: Something that has characterized all cultures throughout history is the presence of heroes. It seems that in every culture we develop heroes. Whether it be John Wayne, riding out onto the range alone to defeat the bandits, or Luke Skywalker, flying a mission to save the empire, or Michael Jordan leading the Bulls through a championship season, or James Bond, saving the world in an afternoon while not spilling his tea. We all have images of heroes, those people who seem larger than life, doing things thought impossible, and setting a pattern for us to follow.
One of the reasons we focus on heroes is that deep down each of us wants to be a hero; we each want to be special, someone who makes a difference in the life of somebody. The need for significance is one of the most compelling needs we face: far greater than the need for food or water or survival. We each want to give ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves.
The second reason we love to focus on heroes is that we never want to give up hope. When do the heroes show up? Not during the Cowboy/Indian peace talks, but when the Indians are on the warpath, the fort is surrounded, and the water supply is just about gone. Those who offer hope when all hope is gone are the ones seen as the heroes.
This morning I would offer you a truth: God loves to provide heroes! Think with me through Jewish history: Abraham - When Lot and all the inhabitants of Sodom and the area are captured and taken away, Abraham gets his home boys, 318 soldiers trained in his household, and they go beat up on the Elamites and the others there.
Joseph - If you like Rocky, you’ve got to like Joseph. In Rocky, he keeps getting beat up, but when he’s beat up the most, that’s when you know he’s just getting ready to fight. Joseph - hated by his brothers, kidnapped, sold into slavery, tempted to sin daily, when he does right is thrown in jail, is forgotten there, helps two prisoners have hope, but is neglected when they get out of jail. Just when you think it couldn’t get much worse, he is elevated to be the second highest in the land.
How about Moses, the deliverer, parting the Red Sea. Or how about Gideon, defeating the massive army of the Midianites with only 300 men. How about Samson, time after time destroying the Philistines, and in the end killing more in his death than he had in his lifetime. We love heroes.
God is a God of heroes, a God who constantly offers hope. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope. In the midst of our problems, God offers us hope. We see this hope expressed in the second half of the book of Isaiah. In the first half of the book, we see much written about the judgment that is coming on the people for their sinfulness. But in the last half we see that Isaiah writes to give the people comfort and hope in the midst of their punishment.
God gives his people hope!
I. God provides hope for Israel.
A. He provides hope through a conquering leader.
The prophets had warned the people for years that they would be punished for their sinfulness and idolatry. But they kept right on ignoring the pleas of the prophets and the commands of their God. So God sent the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity to Assyria in 722 BC. The southern Kingdom of Judah had a few more years, because there were some good kings. But the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonian empire in 586 BC. Yet, even before the fall of this kingdom, God was preparing comfort and hope for the people through the words of Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied of a leader that God would raise up to overthrow the power of the Babylonians, and he named him by name, years before he ever came to power: Cyrus, king of Persia.