Saturday of 4 Lent

Hope in the Lord Forevermore – Psalm 131

“O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.”

Psalm 131:3

The Lord has set us free, and we have entered into the fulness of life in Christ’s Kingdom, the New Jerusalem.  But what are the demands upon us as we make our homes here?  Paul tells the church at Galatia (Galatians 5:24-25) that our passions and desires — our selfishness and self-will — must be crucified, and that we must begin to live and walk in the Spirit of God.  We must be different.  We are called to live our lives in Christ.  Our lives should look like the life of Jesus.  By the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit we are being transformed into the Image of Christ.  Jesus came to do the will of His Father.  He said, “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30).  We have been living and walking in the way of the world.  Now the challenge is to be like Christ—to wed our will to His.  We have been working hard to get here to the Promised Land, but that is only the beginning.  The goal is not to get to the New Jerusalem, but to live in the New Jerusalem.  

What the Psalmist is saying in today’s Psalm is that we are to “hope in the Lord”.  This is not hoping that the Lord will do something for us, but that we may become more and more yielded to His will for our lives.  That we may become like Him in righteousness.  The returning exiles’ lives have been totally disrupted, but now they have made their way to their permanent home.  And without the Lord, there would be no way to rebuild their homes and their lives.  They needed to let go of the past and move forward with their eyes firmly fixed on the Lord.

As has been noted throughout these meditations, our world, our situation, is not significantly different from the world of those singing the Songs of Ascent.  In the midst of the disruption in our world there has been a lot of noise about rights and freedom.  For most of those making the demands to exercise their “rights”, they are simply voicing their desire to do their own will.  But Jesus makes His own demands on His disciples.  To the rich young ruler He said, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21).

And to the wider crowd Jesus said, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).  And after prophesying His Passion, Jesus said to His disciples, 

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  We are called to leave everything and follow Him; not just our possessions, but our past, our hurts, our prejudices, even our own will.  We are to put our hope, our very lives in the life of Christ.

In that leaving, letting go of the things of this world is our hope in the Lord.  The prophet Ezekiel, speaking to the exiles, gave them the Lord’s promise:  “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28).  That is our hope for life in the New Jerusalem.

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