Advent Reading Day 3 – Hope is Alive
“His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you…The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.” Zechariah 9:9 – 17
It is so hard to keep hope alive at times. Even when you know that God rules over all, that He has spoken through His Word, that Jesus has made The Way to abundant life possible, that The Holy Spirit is empowering us, and that at times that He has spoken things specifically into our hearts and minds about what to be about and do…it still can be hard to keep the fire of hope alive. When hard times hit and people suffer, it is easy to begin to wonder and wander. When things get tough here and I’ve had a hard day it is easy to start to wonder if God really wants us here. Is this really His plan? Or, take a couple of days ago when I got the news that because of incompetency a little 2 year old girl’s HIV has now developed into full blown AIDS. God, where are You? Why are you so distant? Have you forgotten? Have you forgotten this little fatherless one whom You’ve said You would be a Father to?
It is good in these moments to realize that I’m not the first one in history to have questions. Zechariah is writing of the promise of The Messiah to people who were held in captivity in Babylon. They were disillusioned and had questions and ultimately had set aside the promises that God had given them. For them hope had died somewhere along the way…but Zechariah comes along with a bullhorn to wake them from their sleep. It was not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” speech or a “positive thinking somewhere over the rainbow fixation” or a “things are gonna be better tomorrow” pep talk. Rather, Zechariah calls the people to a change of focus. Zechariah’s very name means, “The Lord (Yahweh) Remembers.” And in this reading we see him calling everyone (including you and I) to remember that God is in control. Zechariah speaks of how God has not forgotten His promises, that He remembers His covenant, and that He will free the prisoners. He reminds them that He will bring abundance and restore beauty to the despairing as well as those lost in ugliness brought on by years of injustice.
There is one phrase that jumps off the page at me – “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope!” That is the call to us this Advent – “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope!” Find your security in the arms of The Father once again. That is the message of Jesus’ coming – and the message of His return. God has remembered – He has sent His Son and He will be returning. Injustice and the brokenness of this world are still with us – YET we can return to the fortress of knowing Him and find hope.
Prayer: Today’s prayer is the line of a popular worship song. May we make it our prayer of hope today…
“ Light of the world You stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see
beauty that made this heart adore You, Hope of a life spent with You. Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy….Altogether wonderful to me. King of all days oh so highly exalted, Glorious in Heaven above. Humbly You came to the earth You created…
All for love’s sake became poor. Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God.” So be it. Amen.