“Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
In my quest to read through the Bible in 2015, I’m currently in 2 Chronicles 32, and it reads like a tragedy. It seems almost from the start, the people of God fell short of expectations, rebelling against God and worshipping just about anything and everything but God. Even having the Kingdom split in two and the Northern Kingdom (Israel) taken captive and deported to Babylon didn’t help.
If the Bible ended there, it would be about the most depressing book I’ve ever read. But I’ve cheated and read the end of the story. I know how it ends. When you know that ultimately God and His people prevail, it makes the dark parts easier to stomach.
Sadly, I can relate too much to these people. They started off with brash promises and the best of intentions, but these promises and intentions lasted about as long as my New Year’s resolutions. Not long.
At this point, they’re coming to the end of a series of vicious cycles where 1) the people are living well, 2) the people forget God and try to be like all their neighbors, 3) God gets angry and punishes them by famine, war, and hostile takeovers, 3) the people repent, 4) God forgives them and restores them.
By this point, God has had enough. They’ve pushed Him too far. There’s no sign of the people wanting to change and God is totally just to write them off as a lost cause.
But even now there’s a plan. There’s always been a plan. There’s a Messiah in the works, promised all the way back in Genesis 3:16 to come and deliver His people. There have been prophecies and stories passed around for generations and the faintest glimmer of hope even in the bleakest moments.
That’s what Easter is all about– that long awaited and eagerly anticipated promise coming true at last.