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What the Bible says about Hopelessness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Here, the book of Ecclesiastes takes an encouraging turn. Solomon begins to lose his sense of hopelessness, and we see the first positive reference to God in the book. In chapter 1, God appeared but not in a very good sense. The positive turn continues throughout the book.

Solomon does not completely stop writing despairing things. However, they are despairing thoughts on individual, specific areas of life, not his overall conclusion. In this verse, there is a positive conclusion.

Before this, he says that all of his labor was nothing but frustration, but now he sings a different tune. So far, he has painted a dismal picture of life, but now a change begins as he has presented the worse part of his treatise.

God intends that we receive enjoyment, fulfillment, good education—positive things—from the work that we do. Solomon rightly concludes that this is from the hand of God. Certainly, God intends that we receive good things, but remember, Solomon makes his judgments based upon things that are "under the sun," that is, apart from God.

He is beginning to argue that life begins to flesh out, have meaning, fulfillment, the right kind of pleasure, and balance when a person is connected to God. In other words, what Solomon did earlier—all of the works he entered into, his seeking after pleasure, his observations of the natural cycles of the earth, his search for wisdom—are described from the perspective of a person disconnected from God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)

Mark 5:25-26

According to the purity laws of the Old Testament (Leviticus 15:25-27), a person with an issue of blood is to remain quarantined. Also, "Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening" (verse 27).

During the poor woman's ordeal, her incurable disease had drained her, not only of her energy, but also of all her money. Her quest to find a cure from the physicians had solved nothing; in fact, she had gotten worse under their care (interestingly, in Luke's account, he—a physician—omits the phrase, "but rather grew worse"). Her condition, then, was both painful and distressing. The nature of her illness, its prolonged duration, and her fruitless reliance on physicians cost her all her money for expensive remedies, making her a hopeless case.

Nevertheless, she is a determined woman who has faith that she can find relief merely by touching Jesus. In her desperation, she displays considerable faith by risking the consequences of breaking a sacred rule in willfully coming into contact with other people.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Woman With a Flow of Blood

Romans 8:15-25

Notice how he lays the foundation by turning our attention to our hope. He reminds us that God purposefully made life subject to futility. Futility is a frustrating quality that wears away at one's confidence. It can produce a sense of hopelessness that leads us to think that nothing will work out. Sometimes our pilgrimage seems so long and arduous that we take our eyes from our Savior, and hopelessness builds. However, Paul reminds us that God does everything in love and wisdom and for our good. Futility is an obstacle that we must overcome through faith in God. Yet, He has willed that futility be present, intending that we use it as a prod to use our faith in cooperation with Him despite its presence.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)

2 Thessalonians 2:7

Paul affirms that the "mystery of iniquity" was already working then. Look how long it has taken to come to its fullness! We are 1900 and some years later, and it is only now coming to a head. God gave us this affirmation as evidence so we could understand how He thinks in terms of time. It is not the same as with us. We want things done bang! bang! bang!—immediately. But that is not the mind of God; He will do it in His time.

We are living at the time, from everything we can see, that the "mystery of iniquity" will finally reach its height. Let us not do what the first-century Christians did in II Thessalonians 3. We must not let down just because we can see a few things that seem to fit into prophecy, as if the end were already here.

II Thessalonians was written just a few months after I Thessalonians, about AD 52. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting. Jewish civilization is in turmoil, and it will end in less than two decades with the destruction of Jerusalem. In addition, the church is already experiencing internal turmoil, though it is less than two decades old. Nero is alive, and in about ten years after the writing of II Thessalonians, he will be severely persecuting Christians—tarring them, burning them alive, and throwing them to lions for the public's pleasure at the games. By that time, Christians are being martyred, and still no return of Jesus Christ. Thus, conditions are ripe for people to lose hope.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope

Hebrews 2:14-15

It is true that in all of us exists a measure of apprehensive awareness of death that influences our attitudes and conduct. This fear affects everyone to some degree, whether intensely or feebly, because this particular fear has a spiritual source.

Notice that verse 15 says that through the fear of death we are held in bondage all our lifetime. It does not suggest a never-ending dread, but instead a vague influence on conduct, an uncertainty wrapped within a measure of hopelessness, because we do not fully believe God-given truths about death.

God does not put people in the kind of bondage implied by this context. The author is referring to bondage to sin. We know that the source of this fear is Satan. Most of the world believes his many horrible lies regarding death: The living fear the thought of people shrieking in an ever-burning place that allows no spot of respite from fearsome pains. Some think of death as endless unawareness and others of wandering, always detached, in the vast emptiness of space.

Though humanity is certainly aware of death, it does not stop people from sinning, largely because most do not make a thoughtful, believing connection between their own sins being the direct cause of death and of Satan being their spiritual father, even as Jesus told the Jews (John 8:44). They are thus held in bondage to this deceptive, Satan-induced ignorance. As long as death seems far in the future, people generally do not pay it much attention. However, the fear still resides in their minds and influences their conduct because of not believing God's truth. So, most people do not fear to sin except for some social embarrassment because they do not make a clear, knowledgeable, believing connection between their personal sins and their own deaths.

In addition, Hebrews 2:14 tells us that Satan has the power of death. Again, people do not fear Satan very much either, and many do not even believe that he exists. Nevertheless, their ignorance does not negate the fact of their bondage. They are not aware who their slave master is, but he is a person and has a name.

Hebrews 2:14-15 and its associated verses tell us that Christ died for us to break the hold Satan had on us and any that he still has on us through fear of eternal death that might remain within us. We do not die the hopeless second death that the unconverted are still held to. We are free to turn voluntarily to God, choosing to submit in obedience to Him.

To summarize, we do not have to sin in the face of Satan's powers. We still occasionally will, but we do not have to submit to the spiritual power that Satan uses against us. The enslavement is broken. Satan is no longer our father and master.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eight): Death


 




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