See Christ’s Patience-II
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you see the patience of Jesus!
SUNDAY: A Great Mystery of Heaven
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
—Revelation 8:1-2, emphasis added
Revelation 8 explains one of the great mysteries of heaven—how God responds to the prayers of His saints. As we gaze into the inner court of the Lord God Almighty, seven archangels are standing in God’s presence. Before His throne there is an amazing silence as the voices of myriads of angels, the heavenly creatures, and the saints heard in chapters 4 and 5 are all strangely silent.
It is as if the coming judgments are so dreadfully frightening, so unsettling, that those surrounding God’s throne are struck dumb, and all heaven becomes speechless. There, in a holy hush, the Great High Priest, who ever lives to intercede for us, approaches the throne of God and pours out the prayers of His saints.
In this chapter, we will learn how the patience of Jesus and those powerful prayers of His saints work together to fulfill God’s purposes and how the vengeance God has promised to His people is poured out upon sinful earth in heaven’s perfect time. We will also learn why we need hope and how we can have it.
Revelation 8 is divided into the following topics:
Verses 1-2: God Waits—Time to Repent
Verses 3-5: God Listens—Time to Pray
Verses 6-13: God Responds—Time to Flee
God Waits—Time to Repent: Unlike us, God is patient. Before the judgment actually starts in Revelation 8:7, He waits a long time. Because we are a people of action, waiting is something that is hard for most of us. But God says that the greatest action that we can perform is being still before Him and praying. The half hour of total silence before the throne of God reminds us that this chapter is about the power of prayer and silence. As we offer our prayers before His throne, we will see God respond to those prayers, the angel pour out the censer, and the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepare themselves to sound as God begins the Tribulation.
What are some of the lessons ahead in this chapter’s study? The coming judgments are dreadfully frightening, terribly unsettling, and the earth dwellers will have a horrifying end. The coming judgments should make us humbly reach out to our God of love and mercy while there is still time. Remember: only you can choose your destination. If you have not already humbled yourself before our merciful almighty God, I urge you to do so today!
My Prayer for You This Week: Oh Father, how we praise You for being such a patient God! We thank You that there is still time for those who do not yet know You to repent, and to bow and yield themselves to Your great salvation and Lordship over their lives. For You are not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. Oh Father, as we see into the mysteries of Your inner workings—the relationship between the sacrifice of Christ, the incense of the saints’ prayers, and Your vengeance about to be poured out on this planet—may it stir us to greater worship, prayer, and service. Oh, that we might long to worship You in Spirit and in truth! May we never forget that prayer is vital and revered by You, our infinite heavenly Father. May we therefore make it a point to pray without ceasing. May our service be prompted by the fact that all around us are dear souls who are going to exist eternally, either in heaven or hell. So, as we see the horrors coming, help us to be more zealous by laying aside the trifles of life and going out to witness to our family members, friends, and neighbors who do not yet belong to You. To that end, we renew our consecration to You and, as we look into Your Word this week, we anticipate Your promised blessing. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
MONDAY: Solar Instabilities Ahead
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
—Matthew 24:29, emphasis added
Before continuing on with the next segment of Revelation 8, let us again consider this question: Are we actually close enough to think that we are the final generation?
Jesus said that the generation that sees His plan unfold for the end of days will witness His Second Coming. That promise has kept the church throughout the centuries in the Word, on their knees, and ready to go home to heaven at any moment: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:32-35, emphasis added).
Based on that passage, are we witnessing the unfolding of His plan for the end of days? Do the following happenings have a bearing upon the answer to that question?
• The global travel Daniel said had to happen is here, as well as the explosion of knowledge.
• The apostle John said that there had to be global commerce that was based on buying and selling with a personal number, and that is also here.
• Jesus said that Israel had to be back in their land, and they are there.
In Matthew 24, Jesus foretold that a series of specific signs would occur to signal the onslaught of birth pangs. Have those pains that signal the end of days started? I am not absolutely sure, but this much is clear: not since the birth of Israel in 1948—and not since the birth of the United Nations (also in 1948), United Europe, the World Council of Churches, and the computer—have we seen so many signs happening contemporaneously.
Just since Christmas 2004, a vast majority of the earth’s population witnessed the second largest quake ever recorded; the government has warned that we have been observing the largest solar storm measurable; and now, more than ever, we have become aware that the largest threat to global safety may be hurtling through space toward our world right now.
Does all that mean anything? To sort it out, in Matthew 24:29-32 we find that there are three parts to Christ’s warning: (1) the sun will be darkened; (2) the stars will fall; and (3) the powers of the heavens will be shaken. We will look at the first two parts today, and then cover the third one tomorrow.
Part 1 of Christ’s Warning—“the sun will be darkened”: In the Tribulation, the earth will become scorched, and yet the sun will get darker. This could be massive sunspots that lessen visible light and maximize solar radiation. During the past few years, astronomers have witnessed the greatest solar activities ever recorded. The largest and most powerful solar eruptions have dazzled their instruments and made scientists wonder what is in store for the earth in days ahead. For example, on March 6, 2003 the largest sunspot ever seen developed. In October that year, there was “one of the most dramatic periods of solar activity we have seen in modern time.”1 Then, on May 15, 2005, we had one of the highest magnitude solar storms (G-5 in solar terms is like an F-5 tornado) sighted by the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado.
God says that a day is coming when the sun will scorch the inhabitants of the earth: Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory (Revelation 16:8-9).
Though this prophecy is clearly a divine judgment on unrepentant mankind, it is interesting that an event of great enough proportions to alter the earth’s atmosphere could also take place due to nuclear war. Were that to occur, there would be “signs in the sun” (Luke 21:25) as the sky became partially darkened from the clouds of dust and debris in the upper atmosphere (which could facilitate God’s judgment). However, this could also refer to an increase in sunspots and solar flares.
Part 2 of Christ’s Warning—“the stars will fall”: When Christ returns, there will be global fears of an asteroid or comet strike, and an ensuing devastation. It is interesting that, until more recently, “the ultimate disaster” movie style wasn’t common. In previous generations, they were not as aware of the objects hurtling through space faster than bullets and headed our way.
After a lifetime of studying Revelation, and reading as many books and commentaries as possible, I am still not sure whether the following prophecy is the record of a first-century man’s description of an atomic bomb, a super powerful demonic creature’s attack, or a comet, an asteroid, or a meteorite slamming into the earth. Since this couldn’t be an actual solar furnace (like our sun), the Greek word used could stand for any shining object from the sky. But the apostle John definitely saw something hit the earth during the Tribulation: … A great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.… a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter (Revelation 8:10-11).
Whatever this is, it poisons one-third of the earth’s fresh water supply, which is the reason it sounds more like the effect of nuclear radiation fallout. But there are some recent discoveries that indicate other possibilities. Hal Lindsey reports that in February 2004 a bill (HR4544) was introduced which mandated “the allocation of $40 million to survey every near-Earth object 100 meters across or larger.”2
May 2004, three months later, a University of Hawaii astronomer, David Tholen, and a team from Arizona University discovered a new near-earth object (space rock) and took photos until storm clouds blocked the skies. Around Thanksgiving 2004, some Australian astronomers spotted the object, found it to be an asteroid, and named it 2004 MN4. A month of calculations later led the astronomers to announce to the world on Christmas Eve that this asteroid was on a direct hit trajectory with the earth.3 On December 28, 2004, “… astronomers announced they had refined their calculations and said that 2004 MN4 probably wouldn’t impact the Earth ….” They speculated that although MN4 will probably miss the earth in 2029 (the time they calculate it will hit or miss the planet), there are no guarantees. In other words, “… a collision with 2004 MN4 remains a definite ‘maybe.’ ”4
Of course, the original prediction announced that Christmas Eve was overshadowed by holiday events and was soon buried by the event that occurred two days later—the Sumatran-Andaman earthquake.
In spite of the terrifying events to come, God does not want His children to fear—like those who have no hope: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Trust Him, for He is your safe refuge!
TUESDAY: The Heavens Will Shake!
“… men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
—Luke 21:26, emphasis added
Not only will the sun be darkened, and the stars fall, but there will also be great earthquakes in various places!
Part 3 of Christ’s Warning—“the powers of the heavens will be shaken”: Both natural and supernatural phenomena in the earth and sky appear to be increasing. And when Christ returns there will be cosmic quakes: “There will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).
On December 26, 2004, two days after that amazing prediction about Asteroid 2004 MN4, our planet was struck by the Sumatran-Andaman earthquake. That quake was so massive that scientists are still analyzing what happened. But this we do know: the earthquake lasted about ten minutes; it is the longest quake ever known, and was the most powerful ever recorded. The quake, centered in the Indian Ocean, created the largest gash in the earth’s seabed ever observed. It was the second deadliest quake known to history. The quake was also the second largest to hit our planet (that we are aware of) and is only surpassed by the 1960 Chilean quake.
So we have lived through the second biggest, second deadliest, longest, and most powerful quake ever felt and measured by man. We have been warned that a space rock is headed closer than any has ever been and that it will be the first asteroid visible with the naked eye from earth. And, on May 15, 2005, we had the highest-level solar storm sighted by the NOAA.
Jesus was asked, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” So He ran down the now-familiar list of earthquakes, famines, wars, and pestilences. He said that all of these would come upon the earth like “birth pangs” that would increase in frequency and intensity as the time grew near.
Jesus responded, “There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25-27). In the meantime, He told those who would witness the signs of His return, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).
One thing is certain: for the first time man now has the ability to track smaller asteroids that could wreak enormous destruction on this planet. This is creating an increased anxiety over previously unknown threats from the heavens. This is what Jesus predicted would happen in the last days, and that is precisely why we all need a hope that anchors!
The prophetic signs of Christ’s soon coming just keep multiplying. Are you ready to meet Him?5
How can you get ready? Live in the hope of Christ’s return. Trust Him with your future. Wait upon Him to guide your daily life. Avoid whatever grieves Him. Resist fearing anything but God!
WEDNESDAY: Prayer—a Sweet-Smelling Sacrifice
Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
—Revelation 8:3-5, emphasis added
Perhaps the altar spoken of in Revelation 8:3-5 has made you wonder what kind of altar is in heaven. Are there animal sacrifices going on up there? No. Is Jesus offering himself over and over again in heaven? No. So then, what altar is left? If you look at the setting of this passage, you will see that it is right in front of the throne.
The altar noted seven times in heaven (Revelation 6:9; 8:3 twice; 8:5; 9:13; 14:18 and 16:7) is not an altar of burnt offering. Jesus was offered once; therefore, no animal sacrifices in heaven are needed. The only other altar is the altar of incense. This altar is found in the third and fourth books of Moses (Leviticus 16:12; Numbers 16:46). Do you remember the setting? There was a big tent with an outer courtyard housing a brazen altar and a laver. The inner tent was two-chambered. There was a holy place with a table of showbread and the golden candlesticks that lit it. Then, right in front of the doorway into the Holy of Holies, there was an altar of incense. That incense was always to be rising up before the curtain on the other side of the Holy of Holies, the tiny room of God’s presence over the ark of the covenant.
In front of that tiny room of God’s presence, where God’s shekinah (the glory cloud) hovered over the ark of the covenant, was a hollow, rectangular box, covered with gold, standing three feet high and a foot and one-half square. Along the top of this incense altar was a small rail fence to keep burning coals from tumbling off as the priests came and walked past it. As the High Priest annually came with the bowl of the blood of the atoning sacrifice to be sprinkled on top of the mercy seat, he had to walk by this cloud of incense.
What’s amazing is that it is almost as if that priest brought his blood sacrifice surrounded by fragrant incense. Because the incense was offered before the first and last sacrifice, it is like the people’s offerings were sent to God tied with fragrant ribbons of perfumed incense smoke. What a beautiful picture of how God wants us to offer our prayers to Him! We are to come before Him in the name of Jesus Christ. We are to come because of the sacrifice of Christ and His finished work, but this time of fellowship is to be surrounded by the perfume of our prayers and our devotion to Him.
God Listens—Time to Pray: As we just read in Revelation 8:3-5, although Christ is above time, He shows himself to be God, waiting as He allows the prayers of His saints to arise. Before He acts in vengeance upon the earth, He receives the incense of our prayers as sacrifices rising from the altars of our hearts, a fragrant aroma of perfume from a devoted spirit of worship. This is what the eighth chapter of Revelation is all about: God is waiting for the smoke of the incense of our lives to rise before Him before He will act. How does God, who is sovereign, eternal, and omnipotent, limit himself to wait? That is part of the mystery of God.
Prayer is an awesome privilege. Do you look on prayer that way? What a captivating thought to see God wait for these prayers to rise before Him in Revelation 8. Even now He seeks the same worship, adoration, devotion, and praise from each of us. Is the altar of your soul burning with fragrant incense to God? Are the coals of your soul glowing with fire for Him? Do your prayers fill His presence with your devotion? Those are some remarkable thoughts that should draw you to bow in your soul before your Creator and speak to Him wonderful words of worship.
Jesus Christ asks us to come before Him with our prayers so that He can act on our behalf. How is the smoke of the fire of your heart doing? Are your prayers incense to Him? Right now, you may have nothing more important to give to God than your prayers. If so, rejoice! Jesus is waiting to capture those prayers as they rise and pour them out before His Father, our Lord God Almighty!
THURSDAY: Waiting Hope
“… Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
—Isaiah 40:31, emphasis added
Where is your primary citizenship? Is it on earth or in heaven? If your life is tied only to this world, you are an earth dweller. The expression “those who dwell on the earth” is found seven times in Revelation (6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:8). It is another term for a worldly person—one who is at home here and wants to live for this doomed planet, and does not want to leave it. Such persons will worship Antichrist and take the mark of the Beast, and will have a horrifying end. They will refuse to repent, harden their hearts, and continue to sin. The apostle Paul describes a worldly person like this: For many … are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19). This is someone who lives only for the moment.
God’s children, however, are no longer earth dwellers once they come to know Jesus Christ. That is why God hates worldliness in us. Look at how Paul describes the Christian: 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 … (Philippians 3:20-21).
Do you see the contrast? Earth dwellers will have a horrifying end, but God’s children will not. On which side do you want to be?
God Responds—Time to Flee: The coming judgments are extremely frightening! In Revelation 8:6-12, the first through fourth angels sound their trumpets and unleash God’s judgments: hail and fire … mingled with blood … were thrown to the earth (v. 7); the seas are struck with something like a great mountain burning with fire (v.8); a great star fell from heaven … and many men died from the [poisoned] water (vv. 10-11); and the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened (v. 12).
Now look at Revelation 8:13: … I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” God reveals what is to come because He wants us to be jolted by the vivid and inescapable sights of future calamities. He always wants us to soberly look at reality. Thus, He has given us the truth that we need to act upon.
If you are not a born-again Christian yet, it is time to flee the wrath to come, and have a true relationship with a holy God. It is not too late. This very moment you, too, can find living hope for the end of days. You can then profit from one of the most fascinating studies I have ever engaged in—the study of biblical hope.
The Study of Biblical Hope: The Hebrew language of the Old Testament is a rich storehouse of words that define hope. It is filled with examples of what the cause and remedy are for periods of hopelessness. There are four Hebrew words that give us valuable insights into the many ways God can help us live in hope. In English, the four are categorized as: (1) waiting hope; (2) trusting hope; (3) clinging hope; and (4) sheltering hope. Today through Saturday we will examine all four and see how words written thousands of years ago can leap into our lives in the twenty-first century.
Waiting Hope: In Lamentations 3, we find the first of the four Hebrew words for hope—qavah6: … Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:21-25, emphasis added).
The Hebrew word qavah describes “waiting hope”—hope that renews exhausted strength. The original idea of this verb “wait” was to twist or to stretch something. It was associated with the twisting and stretching of weak strands into a strong rope. From this, the word metaphorically developed into the idea of “enduring under tension.” That concept sprung from the fact that even a weak thread twisted together with a rope became strong. The belief grew that as we hope in the Lord’s promises, we are woven into His strength and strengthened to withstand the stresses of life.
The most well-known verse in the Bible using this special word qavah is Isaiah 40:31: “… Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength …” (emphasis added). The major shade of meaning in this verse is “waiting in the expectant hope and being strengthened thereby.” One margin note renders it “who hope in the Lord,” which is more accurate. A sure hope in the future enables a person to have superhuman strength: He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who [hope in] the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:29-31).
This is exactly the same word and hope that the patriarch Jacob testified about at the end of his 147-year-long life of troubles, stress, and disasters: “I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!” (Genesis 49:18, emphasis added).
King David, in writing the Psalms, uses this word for hope more frequently than any other biblical writer. It actually was one of the keys to success in David’s life. He recognized that his human strength was never enough to meet the stresses of life.7 (Emphasis added in the following verses.)
In Psalm 25:3, we see that waiting hope delivers us from being ashamed of hard times: Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Waiting hope also makes each day’s troubles into a lesson from God just for us: “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day (Psalm 25:5).
Psalm 27:14 reveals that waiting hope can give us the strength we need so that we do not lose heart: Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14). And waiting hope promises us that we have victory through the Lord: For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it (Psalm 37:9, 34).
In summary, waiting hope focuses our lives upon the Lord (Psalm 39:7), assures us that He is hearing us (Psalm 40:1), and draws us back into God’s Word (Psalm 130:5). Are you experiencing waiting hope today? Is your life focused on the Lord and His Word? Wait on the Lord—and He will give you the living hope you need to triumph in the end of days!
FRIDAY: Trusting Hope
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
—Proverbs 3:5-6, emphasis added
The coming judgments are terribly unsettling: we are powerless before an angry God. There is nothing that can stop His plan, His judgment, and earth’s ultimate dissolution as a planet. For that reason, more than ever we need to find hope that anchors us during these turbulent times.
Trusting Hope: The second of the Hebrew words for hope is yachal.8 The Hebrew word yachal describes “trusting hope”—hope that produces great endurance. The root idea of this word is to wait for something. It came to mean “an expectant waiting under extreme pressure.” The scholar R. B. Girdlestone says, “Yachal occurs several times in the Book of Job and signifies a long patient waiting.”9 A study of the usage of this word in Job gives the most accurate connotations. He was a man going through extreme tribulation. In rapid succession he lost his great wealth, his children, and his health. Job suffered incredible and constant physical and mental pain. Yet in the most well-known verse using this special word for hope, he said this: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15a, emphasis added). From this, we learn that trusting hope guards us from despair.
In Job 13:15 “the word yachal means to keep on hoping with endurance under extreme pressure. Job’s hope in the Lord enabled him to endure and be stabilized even under adverse conditions.”10 (Emphasis added in the following verses.)
As Hebrews 16:19 says, trusting hope anchors our souls in heaven. Job believed in trusting hope when he said, If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes (Job 14:14). Trusting hope strengthens us: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD (Psalm 31:24).
In Psalm 33 we find that trusting hope invites God’s blessings: Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You (Psalm 33:18, 22). Trusting hope also opens our lives to magnify the Lord: But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more (Psalm 71:14). And trusting hope points us back to God’s Word: … Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances. Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope (Psalm 119:43, 49; see also 119:74).
In summary, trusting hope keeps believing even when there is no visible thing in life that points to a possibility of hope, like Noah did in the ark (“So he waited”—Genesis 8:12). Trusting hope gives us a reason to go on, a reason to smile, a reason to bless others with the strength that God alone can give (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5). And trusting hope assures us that God hears us (Psalm 38:15). What an anchor!
SATURDAY: Clinging and Sheltering Hope
He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
—Psalm 112:7, emphasis added
The coming judgments should make us humbly reach out to our God of love and mercy while there is time. If you listen carefully, the compassionate voice of Jesus is heard all through Revelation, which is a book of woe. He calls John to not be afraid, and He calls the wayward church members to repent and return to Him. It is Jesus who knocks patiently for us, awaiting our fellowship. It is Jesus who sends His witnesses in chapter 7. It is Jesus who sends warnings of doom, the two witnesses of chapter 11, the angel preaching the everlasting gospel in chapter 16, and so on. Jesus is crying out: “While there is time, hear My voice. Do not harden your hearts!” Jesus does not want anyone to perish.
Only you can choose your destination. As the Bible opens, Jesus is seeking His lost ones in the Garden of Eden saying, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9); the Bible ends with Jesus calling, Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17c). Over and over He has extended His invitation. All you need to do is come to Him. You choose your eternal destiny.
One of the most fearful things in the universe is the free will to say yes or no to God. Why? Because you will be eternally held accountable for how you willfully choose to respond to God, who waits silently before He pours out His judgment on this planet. Right now, there is still time to cling to the Lord, but don’t delay. Jesus could come back today.
Clinging Hope: The third of the Hebrew words for hope is batach.11 The Hebrew word batach describes “clinging hope”—hope that inspires deeper trust. The most well-known verse using this special word is Proverbs 3:5: Trust [literally cling to] the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding … (emphasis added).
Here batach is used in the sense of hope that comes from casting one’s total future upon God like a little child and trusting Him for everything. This word is most often translated to trust or to have confidence in someone, usually God. But in some contexts it is definitely used to mean hope, as in the great prophetic twenty-second psalm. The Messiah’s thoughts while suffering on the cross are predicted here: But thou [God] art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me HOPE [batach] when I was upon my mother’s breasts (Psalm 22:9 KJV).12 (Emphasis added in the following verses.)
Clinging hope assures that God is at work: Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3-5). In Psalm 40:3 we see that clinging hope can put a song in our hearts that flows out of our lives even in hard times: He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust [cling to] the LORD (Psalm 40:3).
Clinging hope counteracts and removes our fears: Whenever I am afraid, I will trust [cling to] You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4). And clinging hope calms us in whatever trying situation we face: “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting [clinging to] the LORD (Psalm 112:7).
Sheltering Hope: The fourth and final of the Hebrew words for hope is chasah.13 The Hebrew word chasah describes “sheltering hope”—hope that offers a secure refuge. The most well-known verse in the Bible using this special word is Ruth 2:12: “The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (emphasis added).
This is a beautiful word for hope. Its root meaning is “to seek shelter, refuge, or protection in something or someone.”14 It is used frequently to portray little animals taking refuge in the cleft of a rock, as in Psalm 104:18: The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.
Figuratively, it came to be used of man’s taking refuge in God from the spiritual, emotional, and physical dangers of life. On a few occasions, this concept is translated HOPE. In Proverbs 14:32, this is used in a unique way: The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death (KJV). When the one who has been declared righteous by believing in Jesus as his Savior faces death, he will have a hope that is a refuge from the uncertainty and fear presented by his own death.15 (Emphasis added in the following verses.)
Sheltering hope is a defense and refuge in troublesome times: “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. … As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:3, 31). In Psalm 7:1, we find that sheltering hope is also a refuge in times of persecution: O LORD my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me ….
Sheltering hope gives confidence and peace to persevere in tough times: In the LORD I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain?” (Psalm 11:1). Psalm 31:1-2 tells us that sheltering hope gives boldness in our prayers: In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me (Psalm 31:1-2).
Sheltering hope provides security and confidence in calamitous times: Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by (Psalm 57:1). And sheltering hope is a safe haven from our enemies: In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me (Psalm 71:1-2).
Make a choice to live in hope: In Revelation 8 we have seen that earth dwellers will experience a horrifying end of dreadfully frightening and unsettling judgments. The coming judgments should make us humbly reach out to our merciful and loving God while there is still time. We can find waiting hope, trusting hope, clinging hope, and sheltering hope in our patient Christ who is a shelter midst the storms of life. He is a solid Rock where we can find safety when we are assailed from without and within! The words of this old song, “The Solid Rock,” beautifully express the hope that is ours in Christ. If your heart has been especially touched by the loving patience of Jesus this week, I encourage you to sing these words worshipfully to your precious Redeemer!
The Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev’ry high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
—Edward Mote, 1797-1874
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