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“No one to whom God has surely spoken is open to rational alternatives.” Abraham knew he had heard God [promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky], so it no longer mattered what his relatives and neighbors thought… [but] another twenty-five years would pass before he saw God’s promise fulfilled. Why did the Almighty wait so long to bring it to pass? Because He wanted Abraham to have no hope other than the promise.

Even as Jesus stared at the gaping jaws of death, Jesus hoped in the promise of God. “Moreover my flesh also will live in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay.” The hope that had been born with Abraham died with Jesus. But then, it had to. For if Abraham had to hope against hope, so Jesus had to hope against hell, because that was the only way for hope—yours and mine—to rise immortal three days later.

Of course, a promise is only as good as the person making it.

“After two millennia, there is one sign that keeps telling us that God has what it takes to make good on His promise,” says Lewis Smedes. “It is that baffling but wondrous thing that happened one early morning as the fingers of the day’s early light were filtering through the floor of a burial garden in Jerusalem. The thing that happened when the life-birthing energy of the universe’s Maker began to pulse inside the dead biological remains of the buried Jesus, whom God had apparently abandoned two days before.

“The cells regenerated themselves, and He, body and soul, came back to life. Any rational skeptic will remind me that ancient rumors of a rabbi’s resurrection make a thin limb on which to hang the hopes of the world. Yes, I would admit it’s a thin limb, but sturdy enough for all, to have held up a sign for all these ages that God the Creator has the competence to renew the world He made.”

This is our hope: The prophets were right. God’s Word is true. Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification. The kingdoms of this world belong to Him. He reigns on high and will continue to reign until all His enemies, including death, have become His footstool. Then He will come. Death will die. We will live. The Prince of Peace will reign, and we will reign with Him forever.

How do I know? Because He promised.