Hope is an extremely potent emotion. It gives us courage to face difficult circumstances, assuring us that they will come to an end. Hope fills our hearts with eager anticipation and expectation for peace, happiness, joy, and well-being. President Barack Obama used “hope” as one of his main campaign slogans in 2008. Not only is “hope” a big buzzword in secular society, but it’s increasingly becoming a catchphrase among Christians in the West.
The word “hope” also filled the conversations, letters, and daydreams of the first century church after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. As 21st century believers in that same resurrected and ascended Lord, do we share the same hope as the early church?
The New Testament boldly declares the singular hope that every believer should cling to - the return of Jesus to the earth to raise us from the dead, establish His government from Jerusalem, restore the earth to the pristine perfection as seen in the beginning before the fall of man, and reveal YHWH, the God of Israel, as the one true God who alone is worthy of all worship.
The biblical definition of hope is stunning in that it is wholly focused on and anchored in the age to come. Any amount of favor, grace, and power that the Lord gives us today is never meant to be an end unto itself for this day, but is always to be strengthened in perseverance and hope for that Day.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the hope that drives you to get out of bed and face another day? Do we place our highest hopes in God giving us more favor in the workplace, more comfort and ease in this age, more power on our ministry, or a more transformed “Christian” society? We must reckon with the clear witness of the Word that much of the things that believers are ultimately hoping for today do not have their foundations in true hope – the appearing of Jesus and the Day of the LORD. Every other hope we cling to apart from the return of Jesus will fade as flowers do, and will end in disappointment, discouragement, or disillusionment.
“Now hope [in the promise of the Seed, Messiah, and LORD, Jesus, to return and restore all things] does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us [as the guarantee of God’s fulfillment of that promise].” (Romans 5:5 NKJV - bracketed additions mine)
This is why we have been given the provision of the Spirit – to live as faithful sojourners, strangers, and pilgrims in this age (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11), living as a faithful witness, calling men to repentance in light of the day of the LORD and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:19-21) and walking worthy of the hope to which He has called us (Ephesians 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) so that we may persevere in this age and inherit the new home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13), which the Lord Himself will establish following His return.
The biblical concept of hope is almost completely foreign to us in the Western church, but I am convinced that the Lord is going to change that in the days to come. May the Lord give us grace to set our hope fully (1 Peter 1:13) and live for the age to come without any hope for this age, that our hearts would abound in the hope of His coming kingdom by the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:5), and that we would hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering (Hebrews 10:23), because God’s promise will never fail. Though the world will crumble around us and persecution will only increase in the days to come, may we be filled with joy and peace in believing His words until the end (Romans 15:13).