"And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself... And he said unto them, These are my words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:27,44).
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3).
That is the message of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead. And it is that note or that fact that God is the God of hope, that runs right through all the Scriptures. Viewed from one standpoint, the Bible, the whole Bible, centres in and circles round this one thing: God is the God of hope by resurrection - in other words, by the triumph of Life over death.
There is very much of sin and death in all the Bible, very much indeed, but they are not the last words. When all has been said about sin and death, it is Life that ultimately emerges. If the Bible did not begin and end with Life, we might well say that it is the story of sin and death. But it does begin with Life and it does end with Life, and all that lies between the beginning and the ending is just the material for the God of hope to show, to prove and to demonstrate the supremacy of Life over sin and death. God commenced with Life as the supreme factor, and although death did spread its dark shadow over all the earth, and although death did so persistently assert itself against Life and raise its evil and ugly head so constantly, that head was just as constantly bruised, and the issue was with Life and is with Life and will ultimately be with Life. It is a grand thing that our Bible, which is the sum of human history and this world's course, ends with such a glorious picture - fulness of Life, a river of water of Life. The God of hope... that means that in every dark situation, God never despaired and never gave up. He knew the tremendous power of resurrection, of Life.
He knew the tremendous power of resurrection, of Life.
And so this twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel by Luke brings to us the whole course of the Bible and the Scriptures - to Moses, the prophets and the Psalms - in terms of Christ's conquest of death, for the central point of the chapter is that the Christ ought to have suffered and to enter into His glory through death and resurrection and what resurrection means: the manifestation of the very essence and nature of incorruptible Life. That is glory, that is the meaning of glory. Let us then be taken back once more, not to repeat what we have already said, but be taken through very hurriedly with this great thought, this great reality - the God of hope by resurrection.
We have seen the invading of God's beautiful world by this foreign element of death, and we have seen how so soon it began to strike out and smite right and left, beginning with Abel. Sin and death moved out in vicious malice to assert themselves against God's testimony of Life and to seek to preach their 'gospel', to fill the earth with their gospel (which is anything but a gospel) that death and sin are the masters and the lords of creation. But even when Abel becomes in a sense their victim and is stricken down, God is triumphant; Life is triumphant. This sovereignty of God in Life works right in there, and we have to move right on through many centuries right into our New Testament era to be told and to have it made perfectly clear, that Abel was not swallowed up in death, that was not the end. We hear an inspired prophet saying about Abel, as about many others to whom we refer in a moment, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect (complete)" (Heb. 11:13,40) which, if it says anything at all, means that Abel comes to his completeness with us, and Abel lost nothing but gained a lot. He is included in all that which is gathered into one word: 'better'. It was better for Abel. That is God's triumph always: it is better. Sin and death do their worst and reach as far as they can, and then they think, as they stand looking upon the prone body of their victim, that they have triumphed, and God says - Something better! The God of hope... whereas to human eyes it looks like despair and the end.
You see the setting of Enoch's life in a world full of sin, full of iniquity and full of death. It is no new observation and no new thing upon your ears that Enoch is mentioned right in the midst of a long and almost monotonous line of people who died and are buried. So-and-so died and was buried, and another one followed him the same way, and on they go, this mortal procession, graves upon graves, men marching to death and the grave. And then right in it there is this break. "Enoch walked with God" and he did not go into the grave, "he was not; for God took him" (Gen. 5:24). Just right in the setting of the working of sin and its outcome in death, the testimony has its flame maintained in one man, one lonely man, but the whole testimony hangs upon that one man. And the testimony is that he does not go the way of death, he goes the way of life. "He was not, for God took him". Of course there is so much more bound up with all these people. We are just touching on the one thing - the continuous testimony of the God of hope.
The next is a very dark scene indeed, the days of Noah. God looking and seeing the iniquity of man, that it was great upon the earth, and God repented that He had made man. It is always a problem to me why it should be put like that - God repenting, seeing He foreknew - but we will not stop with intellectual problems. It surely means that God saw something that He just could not accept. So in the days of Noah there is this practically universal operation and activity of sin and of death, meriting a universal grave, and so the deluge, the flood. But when sin and death have become almost utter, almost absolute, when the whole earth seems to be swallowed up in this mighty apparent triumph and conquest of sin and death over life, God maintains His testimony, wherein eight souls were saved - seven plus one, the plus one is always resurrection. Eight is always that. The God of hope, even in a scene like that, maintaining His testimony of resurrection, and death does not wholly triumph, death is vanquished in that simple vessel, that apparently small means, but it is sufficient to contradict worldwide sin and death. And so, however great it is, here is something which, according to human measurements, will not compare, but according to intrinsic values is more than all that. Apparently a little thing upon a mighty flood, a little handful in a great world populace, a little representation in a mighty overflowing of sin and death... but it triumphs. It is the corn of wheat so small in the mighty earth, but it is sufficient. It has the power in itself to make nothing of all the rest. It is God's secret.
From Noah to Abraham. Abraham's whole life was marked by this very principle of the God of hope. In many different ways the principle of life triumphing over death is to be found in Abraham's life. But we gather it up into the final scene of which Paul makes so much. Abraham the old man, the aged man, taking himself, so to speak, up into a corner and looking at himself and saying, "Abraham, you are an old, worn out, wrinkled man, and there is no prospect in you at all, no hope in you at all." Paul says that "he considered his own body now as good as dead" (Rom. 4:19). He looked at himself and said, 'Abraham, you are dead.' And when it seemed that the way of nature and the way of death was working to its ultimate conclusion, it was just there that God intervened and raised His testimony in Isaac, so that the cumulative and culminating testimony of Abraham's life is resurrection over against death and is hope over against utter hopelessness. He "in hope believed against hope" (Rom. 4:18), he believed in the God of hope. "There sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea-shore, innumerable" (Heb. 11:12). Paul carries that argument a long way in his letter to the Galatians. He carries that on to the Seed, the One Who is the life springing out of Abraham's death. That is wonderful.