Several weeks ago, I posted a Musing entitled Our Culture – An Assessment wherein I evaluated our modern culture here in the U. S. by the nine components of Paul’s fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
The day it posted, a friend texted me asking me to follow-up with a Musing on Hope. “God’s got this!” he reminded me. Well, here at McBurnett’s Musings we honor requests – at least those I feel like honoring!
Currently, I am honored to be presenting a 9-month study on the Old Testament book Isaiah along with three men I greatly admire. The first 39 chapters of that book outline the state of Israel at the time and it is not a pretty picture. The reason they find themselves in this condition is almost entirely due to them committing what is defined as the unpardonable sin – self-sufficiency. God is not interested in mankind being self-sufficient. Mankind is to find their strength in him.
The Babylonian exile awaits. There they will be a minority people living in a foreign land. It will be hard; they will feel isolated. Jeremiah says, “Build houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit,” which is to say “Unpack your bags and settle in because you’re going to be there for a while.”
But Isaiah doesn’t end in chapter 39. Beginning in chapter 40, he begins to tell of one who is coming who will redeem Israel. In chapter 9, he says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The light has shined on those who lived in the land of the shadow of death.”
John frequently speaks of Jesus as the light shining in the darkness, most notably in John 8:12, “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ” This is the hope Isaiah and John portrayed for us and Jesus affirmed for us.
But don’t move too quickly past John 3:19, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.”
So, how does this relate to the current culture in the United States?
I would offer that we who have embraced the light of God’s grace are a minority living in a culture far from what we embrace. No, we are not in exile, but we are called to settle in, build houses and plant gardens, because we’re going to be here a while, living in ways that are foreign to the culture in which we live. We have seen the light of the world and choosen to follow him, even though, those around us love the darkness rather than the light.
I am not oppressed. I am not downtrodden. This is an amazing time and culture in which to live and I am thankful for it every day, and on those days when I neither acknowledge nor express my gratitude, well shame, shame on me.
Isaiah told his people to grab onto the hope of the light that was yet to come and hang on they did. Jesus told his people to grab onto the light of his countenance and they did. He also promised there is an even brighter day yet to come, and John writes of it in Revelation 21 – a new creation, the New Jerusalem, a world so full of light there is need for neither sun nor moon.
That my friends is the vision on which my eyes are set. That my friends is the source of lasting hope which will be replaced by God’s reality on That Day on which he sets all back in order, his order, here on earth.
With eyes and heart turned to God and his Kingdom,