Tuesday, December 18, 2007

(Guest Writer - Garet Robinson, GA) What do you love about the Christmas holiday? Is it the host of aromas? The textures, sounds and tastes of the day itself? Or is it the deeply-engrained emotions that flavor your existence in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?

Of course, our answers are as varied as the ornaments on our Christmas trees (or Festivus poles). Our love for the holidays is as unique as we are, and that is perhaps what makes this time of the year so special. There is something special about the entire season that uniquely connects with each of us at an emotional and sensory place, and hopefully even a spiritual level. For me, however, the deepest and most meaningful part of the holiday celebration is the recurring Scriptural theme of hope.

Hope is one of defining themes of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, we find from the outset of Genesis until the end of Malachi, the theme of hope being implicitly and explicitly played out. The hope in the coming Messianic deliverance is interwoven through every passage of the Old Testament. In the festivals (not to be confused with Festivus) and covenantal expressions, hope finds a significant and sacred place. It is the hope that God’s way is promised, anticipated, and delivered. In Genesis, for example, this theme of hope is initially explored: I wait for Your salvation, Lord. (Gen 49:18, HCSB) Again in the Psalms we see the idea of hope held closely to the heart of the authors: For You are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth. (Psalms 71:5, HCSB) and I wait for the Lord; I wait, and put my hope in His word. (Psalms 130:5, HCSB.)

Then across the 400 years of silence before Christ is born, we find hope finally delivered. Suddenly, the hope of Israel is among us and accomplishing the work of God by the name, “Jesus Christ.” The arrival of Christ is that sweet celebration which we remember so well today. We have a terrific picture as painted by the Gospel’s authors about Christ’s arrival. The glory of Heaven arrived on earth.

That explains why you feel a suddenness when reading about the crucifixion—after only a mere thirty years of life, hope is taken away? But when it seemed hope was lost, the writers of the New Testament turn our pessimism around. Hope suddenly finds root in the resurrected Christ and His promised return. Paul points out clearly in Colossians, “for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (1:4-6a, HCSB.) There is a hope that is wrapped into the very nature of the Gospel itself and that followers of Christ are to expectantly celebrate amongst themselves. Our hope in Christ moves from anticipating His arrival to expecting His renewal.

At the heart of hope in the New Testament is the belief that in our walk as followers of Christ we have a confidence that our salvation is sealed in Christ and we are awaiting the establishment of the heavenly Kingdom. We have hope that in Christ we can have a place for healing, guidance, and encouragement. More significantly, we hold the hope for a final home—the heavenly gift of our everlasting fellowship with God.

Hope is our expectant anticipation of Jesus Christ’s blessings and promise of eternal redemption. Hope is knowing that while we exist in this temporary country of the world there is a far country which our eternal citizenship keeps us pressing forward. Hope is what we share when we take the opportunity to tell others of that hope that is within according to 1 Peter 3:15. May we live as hopeful followers of Christ during this season of rejoicing.
Where else do we find the theme of hope in scripture?
What is the most meaningful theme in scripture to you? Why?

3 comments:

Jenny said...

I think hope is painted all across the pages of the Bible. One of my favorite places is in the names of Adam through Noah. The meaning of there names shows that God had a plan for redemption all along. It is the forshadowing of a beautiful love story between God and his children.
Adam- Man
Seth- Appointed
Enosh- Mortal
Kenan- Sorrow
Mahalalel- The Blessed God
Jared- Shall come down
Enoch- Teaching
Methuselah- His death shall bring
Lamech- Despairing
Noah- Comfort and rest

Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but
the blessed God shall come down teaching, His death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest.

Jennifer
You may not remember me but I was the shy girl who went to San Francisco w/ our singles group in 05. Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Good points, Jenny, and nice research.

BTW, how have you been???

Blessings,

Jonathan

jenny said...

Thanks! I came across it online while I was looking up something else. I'm kinda a nerd I suppose.
Well as for me my grandfather passed in nov and that was tough. But other than that I've been trying to read my Bible more and live for Jesus instead of myself for a change. Which happens to be my new years resolution along w/ going back to church. :) It's been so long I think they took me of the role in singles! I definatley have plans to go to church next sunday though. Maybe I'll see you there. We should hang out sometime and cathc up. How have you been? Hope you had a good Christmas! :)

Jenny