Although the history of God’s people is checkered with peaks and valleys, God’s faithfulness never falters. Years may come and go, and seasons may change, but we may be assured that God’s covenant love remains constant. Even if the heavens will perish and wear out like a garment, our Lord and Saviour always remains the same, and His years will have no end (Heb 1:11-12). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).
During the latter half of his reign, King Hezekiah faced many discouragements, challenges, and threats. The Northern Kingdom of Israel laid in ruins and many in Judah opposed Hezekiah’s reforms. And then when it seemed that matters couldn’t get worse, at around 701 BC, the great Assyrian army pillaged the cities of Judah and laid siege to Jerusalem. The future looked very bleak. But then Hezekiah turned to the LORD in prayer;
Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone” 2 Kings 19:19
Since God’s covenant faithfulness never changes, God graciously heard Hezekiah’s prayer and sent him a word of encouragement through Isaiah the prophet,
…the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” 2 Kings 19:30
It was a reassuring promise to inspire confidence for the future. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, God’s promises never change. God’s encouragement to Hezekiah is also God’s encouragement for his people today.
Therefore, at the beginning of a new year, we may be optimistic about the future of Hills Bible Church. Of course, the local church experiences ups and downs. The local church is not invincible. There are threats from without and sometimes even from within. Some Christians lose their first love and their hearts become cold. Some churches collapse and close their doors. Members are scattered, some go to other churches and some even leave the church altogether. But by God’s grace, if we remain faithful to him, this will not be our experience at Hills Bible Church. God is very concerned and zealous for his church. God wants his church to grow and prosper. God wants his church to become a haven of rest for those who are lost and weary. God’s promise to Hezekiah may also give us confidence for our future.
“Taking root downward and bearing fruit upward” may be a great vision for us in 2024. If God is for us, all the plans of our enemies will come to nothing. God will fulfil his promises in our midst. “Taking root downwards” means that we will build deep foundations upon the Word of God and upon the rock which is Christ. Every member will study and grow in his or her knowledge of the Word of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will draw sustenance for our spiritual lives from the Word and so we will live healthy and victorious Christian lives. We will not be intimidated by our surroundings nor be swayed by every new theological fashion that comes around. “Bearing fruit upward” means that we will fulfil God’s intention for us to be a loving, joyful and peaceful community caring for one another and encouraging one another. It also means that we will be the Lord’s witnesses in our families, in our work environments, and in our communities. We will share the gospel with others, many will be saved, finding meaning, peace and hope. Hills Bible Church will grow, and more and more people will come to know that the LORD is true and faithful.
We do not know exactly what will happen in 2024, but we do know that God will be faithful.