I've been pondering Ephesians 1:17-19 lately, more specifically one phrase that Paul prays. He desires that we would know the "hope of His calling", or as the NIV puts it, "the hope to which we have been called". I've been making a little handout on it, so I figured I would share with you some of my thoughts from it!
Hope is an emotion deeply rooted inside of every human. Hope is simply the expectation and desire for something better than what currently exists. For example, the small child hopes to be a teenager, the teen hopes to be an adult, and the adult hopes he or she will find in life that which satisfies. Hope is a powerful motivator. When it is lost, the burden of pessimism and despair can be heavy on its bearer. The Gospel has the power to lift this burden by giving us a confidence – a true and living hope that will not disappoint us.
God created every human with a deep longing to marvel and be fascinated. Since the fall in the garden, we have been disconnected from what we were created for. The intrinsic hope for every human is unhindered fellowship with God as it was in the days of Adam and Eve in the garden.
“One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek … To behold the beauty of the LORD ...” (Psalms 27:4 NKJV)
The Lord promised to destroy Satan and restore the paradise and unhindered fellowship through a descendant of Eve (Genesis 3:15). The hope of this “seed” and of the restoration He would bring prevailed throughout Israel for thousands of years, as prophets continued to unveil more and more about who He would be and how He would be manifested.
After recognizing by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the promised “seed”, His disciples had every reason to be confused and discouraged in the days prior to His ascension because their original expectation was that He would establish His kingdom immediately (Acts 1:6). However, He left His followers with the hope of His return and with the promise of the Holy Spirit as the down payment of the powers of the age to come, when His kingdom is established and the law goes forth from Jerusalem. This expectation of the coming King, His kingdom, and the restoration of all things was the blessed hope of the early church, as emphasized primarily by the writers of the NT epistles.
“… looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:13 NKJV)
Despite the promise, the guarantee, and the confidence that we are invited to live in as followers of Christ, hopelessness abounds even in the church today. Believers are still looking for fulfillment in this life from money, possessions, or positions of honor in ministry rather than looking towards the coming kingdom as their anchor in the midst of the raging storm of darkness against us. God gifted us with hope so that we would set it upon and pour it out over Him like costly oil. But so many even in the church today are setting their hope on temporal things and sinful humans when we were made to set our hope on something so much greater than what we can see with our eyes.
“Hope deferred (expectations continuing to be unfulfilled) makes the heart sick...” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)
The Lord’s strategy to change this is to shake everything that can be shaken so that the only hope that the earth has is Christ – God born of a woman, crucified, raised, and exalted to the right hand of God, to return to the earth and bring everything together in Himself. In His mercy, He is beginning to shake things up a bit so that our true hope is set on the unshakeable – the King and the kingdom to come. The shaking will remove the middle ground and give us the opportunity to choose whom we will be loyal to.
But we cannot divide our loyalties between two kingdoms. At the end we will be loyal to one and hate the other.
“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations (Jesus),” (Haggai 2:6-7 NKJV)
The desire and blessed hope of the nations is a Man named Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1). In Him all of the promises God has given – the Seed, redemption through the cross, righteousness on the earth, justice for all, and God dwelling with men – are wrought and will come to pass. The centerpiece of God’s eternal purpose is for Jesus to come back to establish His Kingdom over all the earth as He joins the heavenly and earthly realms together. God’s purpose has always been for His people to live together with Him in this way. Our hope is eternal fellowship with Him.
“the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,” (1 Timothy 1:1 NKJV)
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen,” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
“Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them…” (Rev. 21:3)
America and much of the world is experiencing unprecedented shaking economically. One does not even have to be “prophetic” to know that more shaking is coming to our nation.
In the midst of these rumblings before the big storm, we are called to set our hope on one Man alone. The words to the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” come to mind:
“In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”
Where is your hope today? Is it in your bank account, retirement plan, family, or job? We can be confident and assured that if we set our hope on the Lord Jesus, we will by no means be put to shame.