Summary: Our Hope is Laid Up in A PLACE
OUR BLESSED HOPE
By Pastor Ted Palaroan
Early this year, while driving down the highway, I noticed a billboard with this message: Jesus is coming (Matthew 24). The statement is certainly true; the Lord Jesus Christ will one day come back to this earth to establish His kingdom, and He will rule and reign for a thousand years. However, the message conveyed by this billboard seems to indicate a misunderstanding of what we, as believers today, should be looking forward to. The hope, or expectation, of an earthly kingdom belongs to the people of Israel, just as God promised them in the Old Testament Scriptures (Exo. 19:5-6, 2 Sam. 7:8-16, Ezek. 37, etc.). When Christ returns, they will rule and reign with Him on the earth (Rev. 1:5-7, 20:4-6).
During this present dispensation of grace, God is no longer dealing with Israel as a nation, but with the Church, the body of Christ. The hope of believers today cannot be found in the Old Testament Scriptures, or even in the teachings of Jesus, such as is found in Matthew 24. Our hope is found only in the writings of the Apostle Paul, Gods spokesman for this present age. In Titus 2:13, Paul refers to our hope as a blessed hope ... the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. This appearing does not refer to His coming back to the earth to establish His kingdom, but to His appearing in the air, to catch His church up into glory (1 Thess. 4:17-18). Paul makes mention of this blessed hope in writing to the saints at Philippi as he describes what believers should be eagerly waiting for.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)
In these verses we find four important aspects of our blessed hope, a hope that is distinct from that of Gods earthly people, Israel.
Our Hope is Laid Up in
For our citizenship is in heaven
To begin with, the place of our hope is heaven. We are not looking forward to Christs return to earth to establish His kingdom and rule and reign. This is Israels hope; a hope that will one day be realized just as Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 24. The Apostle Paul plainly declares our citizenship is in heaven. God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We have been identified with Christ in His death, His burial, His resurrection, and even more, in His ascension, for God has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). Our hope is not an earthly hope or an earthly kingdom, as so many Christians seem to be focusing on today, but a hope which is laid up for you in heaven (Col. 1:5). We are not to be waiting for Jesus return to the earth, but for His return in the air to catch us up to be with Him in heaven, our eternal home.
Our Hope Looks to
... from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we tend to focus too much on the place of our hope, and forget that our hope is actually a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. The word hope means our expectation, that which we confidently wait for. We are to eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our confidence is in Him because of who He is, our great God and Savior (Tit. 2:13), and because of what He has done for us, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14).
Currently the Lord Jesus Christ is seated in the heavenlies (Col. 3:1-2). As far as His relationship to Israel is concerned, He is waiting for His kingdom, the time when all things will be subjected to Him (Heb. 2:5-9) and all His enemies will be made His footstool (Heb. 10:12-13). This wait, this delay, is the result of Israels rejection of Him (John 1:11). When Christ came and was presented to Israel as their King, they crucified Him, declaring, we will not have this Man to reign over us (Luke 9:14). Following His ascension, they also rejected the ministry of the Holy Spirit during the Acts period, in a sense crucifying the Son of God all over again (Heb. 6:6). As a result of all this, the nation of Israel was temporarily blinded, and their kingdom hope and promises were postponed.