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On the Nature of Hope, and Broken Promises

22/03/17 - Young Jang

Do you remember the first time that someone broke a promise to you?

As much as I feel as though I can, it is very difficult for me to remember the very first broken promise. I'm certain that I can recall a few of the more recent disappointments that have affected me particularly, but I find that I cannot trace this chain of disappointment back to its origins. Nevertheless, the evidence of the disappointment of a first broken promise is with me now, in the dull ache of an assumption of unbelief toward promises -- perhaps you feel this too.

How can it be that such forgotten memories colour our hopes in dull, grey tones? Can a lack of something, a void, paradoxically fill us with a negative expectation? We even transfer this lack of hope, and thus a lack of belief, upon God.

We see it play out in the way Zechariah responds with protests and completely logical objections to the angel Gabriel's message of promise, in Luke 1:11-18. Despite being a priest, described as righteous, and even though he prayed continuously for the exact promise that God spoke to him through the angel, he couldn't fathom that his greatest hopes were to come to fruition. His prayers were tinged with unbelief, whether from the beginning, or through the years of quiet disappointment that we modern readers have become accustomed to.

But this week, we are witnesses to hope -- hope of promises fulfilled, and a hope of God's rule and reign over everything. As we stand alongside Zechariah, we witness the birth of the baby John (not yet the wild Baptist calling for repentance), and see a change in Zechariah's disposition also: for the birth of John is also the rebirth of hope for him.

God promised to Zechariah a child in Luke 1:13, and He delivered. And the birth of this child of promise brings with it joy -- also promised by God in Luke 1:14. God performs His word, and Zechariah learns to trust His word in his own silence.

We too must learn to trust God at His word. Irrespective of what promises were broken to us in our past by fallible man, we have an infallible Father who keeps every promise made to us. He is always in control, He has always been in control, and His plan always delivers; He promises, and He fulfills.

What does this mean for you and me today?

As we will see in the coming weeks, John is the forerunner, one who comes before someone greater. As the messenger, we can see an almost Gabriel-like quality in him, in that he brings to us a promise -- a promise of a new covenant, a restored relationship with our God whom we wrongly disbelieved.

The fulfillment of this promise is in Jesus, as we see in Zechariah's prophecy (Luke 1:69-75). This is a promise we can cling to and believe in, for we have seen the Lord Jesus come, lift us up from our hopelessness, and bring us a new hope.

Do you believe? Will you respond as Zechariah did, with a song of praise and submission in trust to God's promise?

 

Praying for a response of faith in you,

Pastor Young