Hope is Prophetic
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mt. 24:35) Jesus spoke of the end times as the culmination of all our hopes. Heaven and earth shall be one. All will be restored. Death will be swallowed up in victory. This is a certain hope based on the words of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:12-21 (NIV)
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[a] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 21:18-22 (NIV)
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Before I face a new challenge or visit a different place, I like to speak to someone who has first-hand experience. While the internet or books can give me an idea of what may be encountered, nothing replaces an eye witness. When we hear the words of Jesus speaking about the future, we are hearing from the one who has been there. “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (Jn. 3:15) On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John were eyewitnesses of his majesty. They had a glimpse of the glorified Christ along with Moses and Elijah—who were not rotting in the ground but were present with God. The three disciples had living proof of the truth of the Old Testament prophecies that “the dry bones” would live.
Prophecy about the end times or a description of life after death is incomplete and inadequate. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, so it’s difficult to transpose our life experience into the future hope. Jesus gave us a glimpse of what was to come. He has been there and because we have his words in scripture, we have a hint of the future glory.
While I can prepare for a future trip by researching and interviewing those who have already been there, when I actually experience it for myself, it always surprises me. I will never forget the joy I felt when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time or walked into the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or gave birth to my first daughter. Nothing can prepare us for those moments of transcendence. While the event is a certainty, our experience of it will be unique. We trust in the words of the one who has come from heaven and live in the hope that we have a future with him, and it is indescribably good.
“Jesus, you spoke of the end times and our future hope of the resurrection. We can’t begin to understand what it all means, but we know that you are trustworthy and “if it were not so,” you would have told us. We await the fulfillment of prophecy with confidence.” Amen