Hope looks forward, but all too often it doesnít look far enough, and this is true with the second coming of Jesus Christ.
For some two thousand years, Christians have been hoping that Jesus Christ would return quickly, but He hasnít returned yet, even though there have been signs of His pending return.
If we are hoping for Jesus Christís return, then we should be living like we expect His return at any moment, and that requires us to be living in His heavenly will here on earth as it is in heaven as witnesses to the corrupt and ungodly world around us, and we cannot do this if we are also living in the corrupt ways of this world, which includes the exploitation of animals, and eating, wearing, or otherwise using the products of that exploitation.
We are to be the peacemaking children of God who do everything in their power to free creation from its present corruption for the benefit of every human being, every animal, and the environment in which we all live.
We have been hoping for this peace for a long time, and while we have seen a lot of improvements over the past thirty to forty years, the vast majority of people are still living in the corrupt ways of this world, but we are still hoping and praying that it happens soon.
We have to work for what we are hoping for and encourage others to do the same, for we strongly believe that this is what is required to bring our hopes to fruition.
Hope looks forward, and we need to make sure we never lose sight of the goal, nor stopping our efforts to help make it happen or come to pass, no matter how long it takes.
Psalm 72:8-20 is the last psalm and prayer of David, and it was written in hopes of it being fulfilled in his son Solomon, but it didnít come to pass until his lineage led to JesusÖ
8. May he also rule from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
Solomon didnít rule to this extent, but his power went to his head, and his lusts led him in the ways of the world until in later life when he seemed to return to following the Lord, but his offspring seemed to continue in following the corrupt and ungodly ways of the world.
9. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him;
And his enemies lick the dust.
10. Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
These things that David was praying for were all worldly; even though these things happened they were still short sighted.
11. And let all kings bow down before him,
All nations serve him.
Hope looks forward, but David made two mistakes: he should have been praying for spiritual gifts, and that his son would always be guided by the Lord, and his hope should have been looking forward to the promised coming Messiah (Jesus Christ).
12. For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help,
The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.
Solomon may have done some of these things, but only Jesus will fulfill them completely when He returns, which is where our hope should be.
13. He will have compassion on the poor and needy,
And the lives of the needy he will save.
Well the animals were sure needy, and he didnít have any compassion for them such as the dining on the gluttonous delicacies of worldliness like peacock tongues.
And what is not spoken of are the poor and needy people who suffered in supplying all these worldly things to Solomon.
However, we are to be living in the heavenly will of God and caring for the poor and needy, whether they are human or animal, for we were all created by Him as living souls.
14. He will rescue their life from oppression and violence;
And their blood will be precious in his sight;
They may have been accomplished to some extent by Solomon, but they were not fulfilled by him.
Today the true children of God are doing a much better job of this than Solomon ever did, and we hope and pray these children, including us, will continue to accomplish even more before Jesus Christ returns.
15. So may he live; and may the gold of Sheba be given to him;
And let them pray for him continually;
Let them bless him all day long.
16. May there be abundance of grain in the earth on top of the mountains;
Its fruit will wave like the cedars of Lebanon;
And may those from the city flourish like vegetation of the earth.
We can well understand why people want the best for their children, and David is no exception, but here he is doing the first unselfish portion of this prayer; he is praying for the welfare of the people, even though it is limited to the people under Solomonís rule.
This is the first time in this psalm that David seems to be praying partially in the heavenly will of God
17. May his name endure forever;
May his name increase as long as the sun shines;
And let men bless themselves by him;
Let all nations call him blessed.
Well, we are still hearing the name of Solomon to this day, though we donít believe that blessing oneself in the name of another human being is in the heavenly will of God, because our blessings come from the Lord.
18. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
Who alone works wonders.
19. And blessed be His glorious name forever;
And may the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen, and Amen.
20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
In Isaiah 11:1-5, we can see a good example of how hope looks forward, for in his writing he looks forward to the coming of Messiah, Jesus Christ.
1. Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
Jesse is the father of David, and Jesus is in the line of David.
2. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
All these qualities are found in Jesus Christ, and hopefully everyone who is truly a follower of Jesus.
3. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
4. But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Jesus is the only judge who is qualified to judge in this way.
5. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
And we should also have this quality, if we are true followers of Jesus Christ: Christians.
Hope looks forward to the day when the world becomes vegan and we no longer exploit any other living being, and we finally have peace on earth.
As we look at Matthew 3:1-12, letís see if we can see how hope looks forwardÖ
1. Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
2. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
3. For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!'"
If we are truly living in the heavenly will of God, then we should also be doing similar things, for our lifestyles should be calling people, even silently, to repent of their worldly ways and live in the heavenly will of God here on earth as it is in heaven.
And we should be doing this even if Jesus doesnít come for many more years, because our hope looks forward to the day when Jesus Christ does return.
4. Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
This has most likely been inserted to show how humbly John presented himself, but to us it shows the exploitation of animals, which is supposed to end with Jesusí return.
We can still dress humbly without exploiting animals.
5. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;
6. and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
A lot of people have confessed their sins without changing their lifestyles, and they continue living in the corrupt ways of this world with all its violence and suffering.
7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
John was aware that their lifestyles were still very worldly, and that their hope never looked forward beyond what they wanted for themselves.
We cannot be like those kinds of people, for we cannot truly be Christians unless our hope looks forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and we are committed to living in his heavenly will, now.
8. "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;
9. and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
In other words, if we are true peacemaking children of God, then we should do everything in our power to live like this as witnesses to the world around us.
10. "And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
This is what will happen to all the people who stubbornly refuse to leave their present worldly lifestyles.
11. "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
And it is the Holy Spirit indwelling us that helps us continually live in the heavenly will of God where our hope looks forward to the day that the Lord returns.
12 "And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear
His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will
burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
And we all need to ask ourselves, which group am I in, and if we are not in the group we want to be in, then we have to truly commit ourselves to change into the peacemaking children of God.
Letís end our discussion today by looking at Romans 15:4-13 and understand why hope looks forward to Jesusí second coming.
4. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
The kind of hope that looks forward to Christís return when He will once and for all time end the violence and corruption that plagues this world and causes million of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year; but in the meantime we must be working at helping to free creation from its present corruption.
5. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;
6. that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is naturally what happens when we are truly living in the heavenly will of God here on earth as it is in heaven.
7. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
If we are not like this, then we need to repent and change.
Furthermore, we strongly believe that we need to be accepting of all the animals, for they too are part of Godís creation and heavenly realm.
8. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9. and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
"Therefore I will give praise to Thee among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Thy name."
Paul is telling the people that every other human being is also covered by Godís grace and that we need to be accepting of that fact.
And even though Paul didnít include the animals, we believe that they are included.
10. And again he says,
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people."
11 And again,
"Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him."
12 And again Isaiah says,
"There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope."
And we need to give nonbelievers this hope, while loving them as Christ loves us.
13. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And as our hope looks forward, we see that the earth has been restored to Godís creation intent, and we should be living like this.
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