For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
Many of you will be familiar with the Bible verses below. They are representative of hundreds more like them and they all have one thing in common. Let’s look at the verses and find out what links them all.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
The thing that interests me is that these are all examples of verses that God has used to speak to His children, over many centuries, in times of difficulty and need. They encourage and give renewed hope and strength to the buffeted soul. They have inspired struggling saints to press on and not give up hope. They have breathed new life into the weary and oppressed. They have brought a sense of His love and compassion to our hearts.
However, there’s a danger that, focussing on the ‘here and now’, we miss something far greater that God wants to reveal to us. As we read these verses, God also wants us to look beyond to the ‘there and then’, because these verses have an even greater hope, and even greater promise in them than just for the present time. They are not just for now…they are for eternity.
Let’s look at these verses again, and instead of thinking of them in the ‘now’, let’s think about what they teach us about what eternal life with Christ will be like in Heaven.
1 Peter 5:10 tells us that God himself will restore us and make us strong but, as wonderful as it is to receive strengthening from the Holy Spirit here and now, we will never be stronger or firmer or more steadfast than we will be with Christ in His ‘eternal glory’. No more wavering, no more stumbling. We will be eternally ‘strong, firm and steadfast’.
Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that the Lord will delight in us and rejoice over us with singing. Can you imagine that? If Christ rejoices over us with singing while we are on earth, how more so when we are in Heaven? What a glorious thing it will be to hear that jubilant song from His own lips!
In Proverbs 23:18 we hear that our future hope is sure. I don’t know about you, but I’m shouting “hallelujah” to that one. My hope of seeing Him one day face to face ‘will not be cut off’!! That is something to rejoice about.
Jeremiah 29:11 declares that the Lord plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. What brighter, more prosperous future could we have than living forever in Heaven with Christ? That beats any future we may have now.
As Spurgeon said:
“Christian, meditate much on Heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way”.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
At sundown on 06 October 2022, Jews all over the world began the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, known as Sukkot.
Sukkot was one of the three pilgrimage festivals, the others being Passover and the Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost. During these feasts, up to AD70 when the Temple was destroyed, Jews from all over Israel and lands beyond, would gather in Jerusalem to worship God.
Sukkot commemorates the 40 years the children of Israel spent wandering in the desert after leaving slavery in Egypt. It’s an eight-day festival that begins at sundown on the first day of the feast and it’s all about giving thanks for the autumn harvest. On one such Sukkot celebration, on the eighth day of the feast, Jesus stood up and proclaimed these words:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37-39)
To non- Jewish ears, this sounds a strange statement, but to Jews it was astonishing.
In Israel, where rain only falls on average about sixty days during the rainy season, people were keenly aware of water sources and water quality. Springs and rivers that ran all the year were few. They relied on cisterns to catch and store the winter rains and wells to tap underground tables.
In Jewish culture the water that was stored in wells or cisterns was called ‘dead water’ whereas water that flowed in rivers or springs, and rainfall, was ‘living water’. Since it came directly from God it was precious and it was this ‘living water’ that was used for ritual washing.
This ‘living water’ was also used during the feast of Sukkot on the first seven days of the feast. Early in the morning, followed by thousands of people, the priests would make their way down to the Pool of Siloam which was fed by the Gihon spring, a source of living water. Interestingly, several rabbinic traditions identified the Pool of Siloam as the Messiah’s Pool.
A priest would draw water from this pool of living water each morning and, in procession, carry it up to the altar in the Temple and pour it out on the altar in front of all the people. However, on the last day of the feast, this water drawing ceremony did not take place. It was on that day that Jesus stepped forward and beckoned to anyone who was thirsty to come to Him for living water. Although not fully comprehending how He could do this, a sense of longing and anticipation must have risen up in many a weary soul; a true heartfelt longing for what this man from Galilee had to offer. That same proclamation made by Jesus on the last great day of the feast of Sukkot, comes down to you and me today. Spurgeon once said:
“I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely,” is an invitation to drink, and it will be wise on our parts to accept it at once, and drink to the full.”
When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them. (Matthew 9:36)
Many of you will have had the experience where the Holy Spirt draws near and reveals to you a particular facet of the person of Christ with new depth and reality. I experienced one of these moments recently.
I had been watching a video where we see Jesus being faced with a woman who is brought to him, having been caught in the act of adultery. It is followed by the scene where Jesus is sitting by a well in Samaria and a woman of ‘ill repute’ approaches the well to draw water. In both cases, we see women who were despised and rejected by others. Their contemporaries, looking only at the surface, distain them. The first woman was to be stoned to death while the second was living a life filled with rejection, cut off from fellow human beings. Then Jesus comes along. In quiet compassion and kindness, He gave both women a chance of a fresh start.
These are not the only times where we observe Jesus’ compassion for mankind. In Matthew 11:28-30 we read these beautiful words:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The NLT Study Bible footnotes explain that, “In contrast to the ‘yoke’ of religious leaders, Jesus’ yoke is easy and light, not because it is less demanding but because the power of the Messiah (by the Holy Spirit) makes it possible.”
The footnotes also remind us that the Pharisees placed heavy burdens of religious observance on the Jewish people. As well as expecting adherence to the 613 commandments mentioned in the law of Moses, an 'oral tradition’, replete with hundreds of extra rules that expanded on the already existing ones, was also added to these. No wonder the people were burdened and heavy laden!
Now Jesus walks onto the scene and we read the following, “People are invited to enter into a relationship with a humble and gentle teacher.” (NLT footnotes)
Sometimes the burdens we carry in life are caused by our own sin. Other times it’s simply life’s circumstances. But whatever the situation, and whoever we are, whether women, or sinners, or lepers, or children, or the sick, or spiritually needy, Jesus’ compassion is poured on us all.
The hymn writer William Cowper once said,
“Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, but God never will”.
Whatever your situation, remember that Jesus was“moved with compassion.” (Matthew 20:34) when faced with human need. Bring Him your need today for He has compassion on you too.
Pauline Ann Anderson
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