What quality is most essential to a meaningful life? A recent survey of college students demonstrated that “from a clinical standpoint, it appears that hopeful thought may be an important part of what it means to perceive one’s life as meaningful.”1
It is within this context that I read Future Hope, a challenging book by David Brickner.
Brickner divides his book (subtitled “A Jewish Christian Look at the End of the World”) into eleven brief chapters and eight appendices, each dealing with an aspect of the theme. He invites readers to examine the chapters in whatever order they choose. The table of contents makes it easy to find which chapters address what questions, including “What is Armageddon?” “What is the Rapture?” and “What is the role of Israel in the end times?”
Brickner writes from his perspective as a fifth-generation Jewish believer in Jesus. He examines prophecies in the Scriptures concerning end times and tells how it is possible to have confidence and hope as these climactic and catastrophic world events unfold.
Many books on the topic of end times prophecy are so complex that their readership is limited to theologians and scholars. Brickner writes concisely and clearly, which makes the book a quick and easy read. Although it may not satisfy a reader who is already deeply involved in a biblical study of end times, it is not meant to be an in-depth treatment of all the issues it raises. For further study, the book does include both a bibliography and a recommended reading list.
Future Hope addresses the anxieties that all people have about the future and offers a dynamic solution. Brickner says it is possible to live in intimate relationship with the God who is in control of the future, and who has embedded future events with meaning and purpose and therefore with hope. Although he doesn’t skirt controversial questions about the future found in the prophecies of Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew and Revelation, he includes a disclaimer regarding the positions he takes as being his own and not attributable to the organization he leads, Jews for Jesus.
It is difficult to have hope when we live in such a nihilistic, cynical society. Brickner suggests that many of our problems are traceable to the fact that most people have disregarded God and have chosen to believe in humanity’s total control over our own life and destiny. Centuries of bad choices have brought us to the edge of despair and destruction. Future Hope counters the despair at its very source. Chapter after chapter highlights the same theme: there is hope because God is in control and no matter what happens, history is moving toward a divinely appointed climax. For that reason all of history is filled with hope.
If you have questions about the future, I encourage you to read Future Hope and to consider seriously the implications that Brickner raises.
-John Van Dyke, reviewer
1. David B. Feldman and C.R. Snyder, “Hope and the Meaningful Life: Theoretical and Empirical Associations Between Goal–Directed Thinking and Life Meaning,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2005, pp. 401-421