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?