Summary: Jesus gives us hope
Hope Lost. An elderly man lay dying in his bed, close to his last breath..suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookies wafting up the stairs. He gathered all his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.
Finally arriving at the kitchen he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. He thought he might already be in heaven: there, spread out upon newspapers on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.
Was it heaven or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table.
He could already taste of the cookie in his mouth; just the aroma seemingly was bringing him back to life. His hand, slowly made its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife. "Stay out of those," she said, "they’re for the funeral."
For many of us this morning it, we find there are times where it can be difficult to hold onto a sense of hope in our lives. Relationships might be falling apart, Bills could be piling up, our health could be faltering. It is hard to have hope when life is hitting us so hard.
We see the same in the Old testament period – then too it was hard for your average person to hold onto a sense of hope. The Hebrews had available to them the revealed word of God – as we do, specifically the law, which empowered a Godly life. They had the Covenant of God promising salvation– as we do. They had great kings, judges and prophets who are empowered by the Spirit of God to guide them in their understanding - – as we have some wonderful Christian leaders today. God was with them, as he is with us, and yet hope about everyday life….wasn’t strong.
We saw in our Ezekiel passage that ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ There is no hope of healing, of robust excitement, there is only a dryness seen in the future. It does not have to be that way. Last time we saw how we are not controlled by fate, that our lives don’t just move along to an inevitable conclusion - Spinning out of control. We are in a dialogue with God, who can change the direction of our lives at any time, where circumstances, mistakes, faults, bad decisions, have placed us where we are…..we are not stuck. Life can change.
Today we see, that not only are we not controlled by fate, but we are also given something to help control our lives, to guide us, to give us direction, to hold us up when we fall, to give us wisdom and to give us certainty in our relationship with God. God is able to give us a solid hope – no matter where were are in life, no mater what is happening in life, right now.
We have been given the Holy Spirit. As a Christian the Holy Spirit comes upon all Christians. It wasn’t always that way. In th OT the Holy Spirit came upon only a select few. The people of the Old Testament lived under the Old Covenant. God had established a covenant with the Hebrews. He would be their God. They would be his people, with a condition – they would obey his law as given through Moses and the Prophets.
In our day we may view the law as oppressive – but it wasn’t. It was given as an expression of God’s Grace and Love for his people. The way of the law, was a way of blessing and freedom.
Psalms 119:1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
But the Hebrews persistently broke the covenant, turning their backs on God’s laws, forgetting how he had saved them as a people and turned to worshiping other gods. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know the law or that they lacked leaders to remind them – leaders who had the Holy Spirit, but it was a matter of the heart.
Hope was being lost.
They had the law. They knew what God wanted them to do. Men and women memorized Scripture, lived as righteously as possible and hose right over wrong. And it didn’t matter – their hearts would still go astray. They had an understanding of God – written down - It was accessible, learnable, but it wasn’t with in. It was here – outside. It needed to be here – inside.