For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
A very familiar statement – that God intends good for you and me. Perhaps you don’t doubt this; perhaps you do. Maybe you wonder if the apparent lack of “a future and a hope” is your own fault. Maybe you don’t believe you “search for God with all your heart.” Maybe you believe this is why your circumstances seem so bad. Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps you are one who sees God’s hand in everything that happens to you. You look around and see that your life is good; that you do indeed have “a future and a hope.” Maybe. Maybe not.
The author of Hebrews pulls out the heroes of the past to illustrate God’s hand in everything. The author writes:
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Then shows how men and women of faith move through seemingly impossible situations with hope. The hope is a country not of this world, but of the next. The present is not the prize, but the future.
10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
“we find our true home in heaven. It is to heaven that we look expectantly for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to save us; 21 he will form this humbled body of ours anew, moulding it into the image of his glorified body, so effective is his power to make all things obey him.”
God is perfectly capable to make all things obey Him. Because this is true, He is ultimately sovereign, for that which He determines to allow to happen is in His perfect will. He withholds or exercises His power as He desires to meet His own ends in His own ways. That we do not understand this is because our view of God is limited by our own limited capacity. How can we fully comprehend the all-powerful and the perfect when we are neither powerful nor perfect?
We look to heaven for Jesus Christ to return “to save us.” With His immeasurable power, He plans to call our decayed bones together and refashion our bodies to match His own glorified body. He has that level of power! And it won’t matter in the long run whether you are buried at sea, in the ground, or turned to ash in the fires of the crematorium. You will have a body fashioned by the Lord; and your home will be heaven.
The author of your hope – if you are a Christian – is God. He fills you with joy and peace “in your believing.” He desires for you to “hope in abundance.” You must recognize your hope comes “through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Perhaps you try to generate this joy and peace and hope through sheer will-power. Stop trying so hard. Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He says, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly.” He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Therefore, Paul prays:
May God, the author of our hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing; so that you may have hope in abundance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, we are either one person or we are united as one in Jesus. Either way, we “who have been baptized in Christ’s name have put on the person of Christ.” We are “clothed with Christ.” Paul implies we are dressed up in Christ as if we’ve put on a costume for a big party. Yet, he means so much more. The physical properties, the settings in which we dwell no longer matter. That I am female and you are male means little – if anything – in the kingdom of God. For the flesh can not inherit the kingdom. We will all be changed, in a flash at the sound of the trumpet. The mortal will fall away, and we shall be as He is – immortal.
Therefore, the petty differences between us – our gender, the color of our skin, our cultural backgrounds or ethnicity, our station in life, the money we have or don’t have – these things mean nothing. The only thing that counts is our relationship with Christ, that we are indeed one person.
“through faith in Christ Jesus you are all now God’s sons. All you who have been baptized in Christ’s name have put on the person of Christ; no more Jew or Gentile, no more slave and freeman, no more male and female; you are all one person in Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:26-28KNOX
“For all ye be the children of God through the belief of Jesus Christ. [For all ye be the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.] For all ye that be baptized, be clothed with Christ. [Forsooth whoever ye be baptized in Christ, ye have clothed in Christ.] There is no Jew, nor Greek, no bondman, nor free man, no male, nor female [There is not Jew, neither Greek; there is not servant, neither free man; there is not male, neither female]; for all ye be one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28WYC
“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
Perhaps Peter means we are impatient for the Lord’s return; and fret over its delay in an incorrect way. Rather than being ready for Christ and helping others ready themselves for His return, we stamp our feet and wring our hands, wondering why He tarries. Some of us even set the time for His return, announcing that on such and such a date, Christ will come for His own. We don’t seem to care that everyone else will be doomed.
On top of this impatience and imprudence, we forget God is patient. We ignore that God is kind; that He does “not want any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
“so Christ was offered once, to void the sins of many men [for to void, or do away, the sins of many men]; the second time he shall appear without sin to men that abide him into health.”
Bishops (priests) acting in the old covenant (testament) offer the blood of bulls, goats, lambs repeatedly, year and year in order to cleanse themselves and the peoples of sins. In the new covenant (testament) Jesus as the only Bishop (Priest) offers Himself once, not to cleanse but to void (to do away with) the sins of many.
Christ plans to return “without sin” to His people who “abide Him into health.” What does that mean? “Without sin?” Jesus becomes sin on the cross; when He appears a second time, He no longer carries the sins of the world for He voids these on the cross by His own blood.
Christ’s sacrifice is not repeatable. Nothing need be added to it; and certainly nothing may be taken from it!