The Hopefulness of God

 

Israel never really wholeheartedly committed themselves to Yahweh, and yet 2 Chron. 20:33 positively and hopefully says: " As yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers" . They never did. Especially in the preaching of the word of salvation to those who they knew wouldn’t respond, the Father and Son show their hopeful spirit. “Are you also yet without understanding?” (Mt. 15:16), the Lord asked the disciples; as if to say that He was surprised the disciples still hadn’t come to the understanding which He hoped the Pharisees soon would. The good shepherd searches for the sheep until He finds it. John 10 is full of reference to Ezekiel 34, which describes God’s people as perishing on the mountains, eaten by wolves. But the Lord Jesus set Himself to do that which was impossible- to search until He found, even though He knew that some were already lost. Our attitude to those lost from the ecclesia and to those yet out in the world must be similar. The Lord knew there would not be repentance by Israel. But He went to the fig tree seeking fruit, even though it wasn’t the time for fruit (Mk. 11:13). He saw the crowds who wanted only loaves and fishes as a great harvest (Mt. 9:37).

The Lord Jesus told Paul about the Jews: “...get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me” (Acts 22:18). And yet Paul always appealed first of all to the Jews; and later, despite the Holy Spirit repeatedly warning him not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22,23; 21:11), he went there. He hoped against hope that even in the light of the foreknowledge that Israel would reject the Gospel, somehow they might change. Likewise God told Ezekiel that Israel would not hear his preaching (Ez. 3:7); and yet Ezekiel repeatedly prefaced his preaching addresses with an appeal to please hear God’s word (6:3; 13:2; 18:25; 20:47; 34:7; 36:1,4). He was hoping against hope; his preaching work was asking him to attempt the impossible. To make a nation hear who would not hear. Jeremiah likewise was told that Israel wouldn’t hear him (7:27), but still he pleaded with them to hear (9:20; 10:1; 11:6; 16:12; 17:24; 38:15); God’s hope was that perhaps they would hearken (26:3) although He had foretold they wouldn’t. In this yet again we see the hopefulness of God. And in similar vein, knowing the destruction that would come on all excpet Noah, God waited in the hope that more would be saved. He as it were hoped against His own foreknowledge that more would saved (1 Pet. 3:20).