Advent One | Hope

The First Week of Advent

1024px-Candle_flame_(1)Hope. We all need it. Hope spurs us on when all is lost. Hope casts a vision when we cannot see. Hope keeps us alive. Without hope, there is only despair.


A Messianic Hope

Long before the coming of Jesus, righteous men were sustained by the promise of God to send his Chosen One to save them from their sins and deliver them from oppression and death. Their faith in God and his promises fanned the flames of hope in their hearts.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His name Immanuel.
-Isaiah 7:14

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
-Isaiah 9:6-7

I know my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
-Job 19:25-27

The Beginning of Hope

Hope is available to everybody, and the truth is many people find hope from many sources. That’s because hope begins with faith. Specifically, faith in someone. We all put faith in someone, whether it’s ourselves, some philosopher, or some other leader. The ones that we put our faith in are the ones who show how the future can be better.

Yet not all hope is created equal. The truth is that every hope created by men breaks down. We are too finite to solve all of our problems. Not one philosophy or political theory has yet to alleviate suffering, injustice, or death. Nothing from man can satisfy our need for absolution.

But, this isn’t the part where I say “since these things don’t work, just invite Jesus into your life, and then it’ll be better” or “just have enough faith, and God will give you the desires of your heart” or “all things work together for good for those who live God.” None of these statements are the right starting point.

So, what’s the right starting point for hope? It’s confronting the first lie: “has God really said… ” Hope begins with faith, and faith begins with reliability. Hope in God begins with comparing what you believe about God against what he has revealed about himself. God has made bold statements and bound himself to them by his own name’s sake.

The Old Testament saints lived in expectation of the hope of the Coming One. Christians live in the hope brought by the Sent One. We believed in God because of his word. Real hope is available, but you must decide if God is reliable. Only then, can you trust in his goodness and power. And that is the beginning of true hope.

A Few Things About God

He is merciful, but just.

Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.

-Exodus 34:5-7

He is trustworthy.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

-Psalm 34:8

He is mighty, yet tender.

Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

-Isaiah 40:10-11

He does not lie or go back on his word.

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
-Numbers 23:19

He does not cast out his children and cannot lose them.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

-John 6:35-40

Real hope is centered on the person and work of Jesus. Real hope is backed by the currency of his blood. Real hope is built on the foundation of God’s promises and power. Real hope is coming.

This is the first post of the Advent 2014 series. To read the next post, “Preparation & Joy,” click here.