Wishes or Hope

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The words we use the most are the ones we understand the least. When God
wanted to speak to us, He didn’t drop a book from the sky; He spoke a living
Word, a flesh and blood and bone Word. Because our human words really are
clumsy bricks, God sent a Word that was alive. He sent His Son.

Still, we use words like “faith,” “hope,” and “love” without knowing what
they really mean. (1 Cor. 13:13) They represent concepts that are beyond
words. They are sounds we make with our lips that represent bottomless
ideas.

“I hope it will rain,” we say. “I hope to see you soon.” Or “I hope I won’t
get cancer.” Or “I hope my loved one won’t die.”
When we speak the simple word “hope,” what most of us really have in mind is
something like wishful thinking. We say we “hope” because, at the heart of
the matter, we really aren’t sure we will get our wish. “I’m not sure my
loved one will die, but I ‘hope’ not.” If hope for us is only a wish, then
“hope” is a word that has lost it’s meaning, that is no longer alive.

Biblical hope is a different matter.
Most of us don’t like Hebrews. Be honest. It is a “fuzzy” book. The central
concepts seem archaic and obscure. Mechizedek, angels, high priests and
altars. Where is the hope in these? But when you begin to understand that
Hebrews is really a book about hope, it all begins to come into focus.
Hebrews was first written to a group of Jewish-Christians in Rome in the
second half of the first century. In 49 AD, Claudius had the Christians
expelled from the Eternal City purportedly for causing a riot, for violating
the pax romana. For the Christians in Rome, this was the first taste of
persecution. Many had been insulted, imprisoned, their property had been
confiscated. (In Acts 18:1-2 we meet Priscilla and Aquila who were a part of
that same expulsion.) The first hearers of this beautiful letter were
teetering on the edge of hopelessness.
But now it is 15 years later, and Nero has become emperor. With his unstable
government, fresh persecution is about to break out. He will blame the
Christians for the great fire that will destroy virtually the entire central
section of the city. For the first time, followers of Jesus will face bloody
persecution in the arena. They will see the cross, not simply as a symbol of
Jesus, but as a very real shadow of what will become their future
experience. As a result of the pressure some of them will stop coming to
meetings of the
house churches that dotted the city. Many will be tempted to lose hope.

With that hopeless life situation in view, the writer of Hebrews, perhaps
one of their pastors, will make seven pronouncements about hope. Let’s
outline them briefly:
I. Hope is something we must courageously hold on to.
“But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household. And
we are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in
our hope in Christ.” 3:6 [1]
II. Hope is something we must become sure of.
“Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as
life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.”
6:11
III. Hope is a gift offered to us by God.
“So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are
unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have
fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his
promise with confidence.”
6:18
IV. Hope gives us stability in the midst of a stormy world.
“This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It
leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.” 6:19

V. Hope allows us to draw near to God.
“For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its
place. And that is how we draw near to God.” 7:19

VI. Hope is based on His faithfulness.
“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God
can be trusted to keep his promise.” 10:23

VII. Hope is inextricably tied to faith.
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going
to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” 11:1

The writer wanted those early Christians (and us as well!) to see that
biblical hope is infinitely more than wishful thinking; it is His gracious
gift to which we must courageously hold on to. It is rooted, not upon our
wishful thinking but upon the faithfulness of the God who has perfectly kept
all His promises. Our faith in Him is the link to the hope He alone
provides.

If you feel hopeless today, perhaps it is because your hope is only wishful
thinking which is not really hope at all. Hope is more than a wish. Let the
Living Word transform your heart and mind and then your hope will come
alive. You may not be facing persecution in the arena, but still for many of
us there are lions prowling about and to be sure there are storms in all our
lives. We need more than wishful thoughts. We need the One whom the writer
of Hebrews called the Anchor of Hope. He is our hope. (1Tim.1: 1) Hold on!
From the Study is a monthly syndicated column by Michael Card. For more
information about Michael Card please visit www.michaelcard.com.
[1]All references from Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997

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