Summary: No matter what circumstances you are going through in life, there is hope.
This morning we looked at the hope of Christmas. Living on this side of the cross, we have the benefit of the New Testament to give us the details of the hope we have in Christ. But I want to take a step back tonight and see our hope displayed in the prophetic pages of the Old Testament. Before there ever was a Christmas, there was a promise. God first gave that promise all the way back in Genesis 3:15. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God placed a curse on His creation. And in the midst of that curse, He placed a promise. He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” In other words, God told Satan that he would be allowed to stir up strife for a little while. But God also promised that there would come a day when the Seed of woman would crush his head. Of course, we know that seed was Jesus. Every single person who has ever existed has been conceived with the seed of a man. That is, every person except One. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary apart from the seed of a man. He was, is, and always will be the only One ever to be born as the seed of a woman. That was a promise of God and was fulfilled on that very first Christmas day. But not only was Jesus’ birth a fulfillment of that prophesy, His death was too. Because God promised that Satan would crush the heel of the Seed. And he did. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus suffered and bled and died one of the cruelest deaths imaginable. But in the infinite nature of the eternal plan of God, it was merely a bruise on His heel. Satan merely bruised the heel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because when Jesus arose from that tomb three days later, He arose victorious. He was victorious over death. He was victorious over hell. He was victorious over the grave. And He was victorious over Satan, that serpent of old. When Jesus arose from the tomb on that first Easter morning, He crushed Satan’s head. So, if that’s the case, then why do we still see bad things going on today? Why do we still see the effects of the curse? Why do we still struggle with sin in our lives and evil and wickedness in the world? Because even though that serpent’s head has been crushed, God is allowing him to flop around for a while. And as he flops around, he is trying to destroy everything he can. As part of the curse, God is allowing Satan to exercise a measure of dominion. I’m not saying he is in control of anything, because God is fully and completely in control of everything. But in His sovereignty, God allows Satan a measure of dominion. Paul says as much in the book of Ephesians. After he outlines God’s complete control in chapter 1, Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. So, in Satan’s role as the prince and power of the air… he will continue to lie, and deceive, and exalt himself, and accuse believers, and be our adversary until that final Day of Judgment when he is fully and finally cast into the lake of fire. But until that final Day of Judgment happens, we have to live in the land of our enemy. We have to do as 1 Peter 5:8 says and, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” We have to battle sin in our lives. We have to live with the consequences of past sin in our life. We have to see the death and destruction and devastation that is the result of sin around us. And as we live out the battle every day, it’s very easy to lose hope. It’s very easy to become discouraged. It’s very easy to become focused on everything going on in our lives and in the world around us. And when that happens, it’s very easy to lose sight of the One who gives us hope. That’s what was going on in Israel when God inspired the psalmist to write this Psalm. Scholars tell us that this Psalm was written in the northern kingdom of Israel. It was written during the last days as Assyria was beginning to invade Samaria and carry the people off into exile. If you think that we’ve got it bad today, try living in Samaria in those days. It was nearly impossible to live a godly life. It was very difficult to worship in the temple as God required, because the temple was in Jerusalem in Judah. And Judah and Israel had been battling back and forth for a while. All the priests, the kings, the religious leaders and most of the prophets were false. The preaching was bad, the worship was wrong and the nation was in a godless state of idolatry and paganism. Imagine trying to live a godly life in a country like that. And then on top of that, they were being attacked by another nation. They were constantly at war and the economy was in a shambles. They were beginning to feel the effects of environmental plagues and economic sanctions. Food was becoming scarce. It is a complete and total understatement to say that times were hard. But it is in the hardest of times when hope shines brightest. And that’s what it did for the Psalmist. I don’t know what your personal situation is as we head into the Christmas season this year. But I do know that many of you are facing difficult circumstances. I stand before you tonight and tell you that on the authority of Scripture, there is hope. You can find your hope tonight in the same three places that the Psalmist did in his troubling circumstances. The first place you can find hope is in the Shepherd. Look at verses 1-6: