Biblical Hope: Hope Series 2/4
In the first post of this series on Biblical Hope, I said that hope based on personal power, strength, motivation, and perseverance is a futile hope and will come to nothing (in the long-term).
146 passages in the Old Testament contain the word or notion of hope. Many of these hopeful expectations are not well-founded and can in fact be called futile or foolish.
But there are 73 more Old Testament verses on hope. Let’s see what they say.
“In the 73 passages in which the hope of the faithful of Israel is expressed through the verb or noun Yahweh is named as the object of hope” (Hoffmann, 239).
These passages recognize that God has recorded promises that He covenants (obligates, promises) Himself to accomplish. His track record shows Him to be perfectly faithful to those promises. Thus, having Yahweh as the basis and fulfiller of hope is not futile or foolish.
Indeed believing in these promises is a wise way to live. God has the power, mercy, and inclination to fulfill the promises He has made. The Israelites agreed (although didn’t always live like it) with the writers of the Old Testament that Yahweh was their hope.
This confidence was never claimed by worshippers of other gods. “Those Babylonians whose prayers have come down to us never called their gods their “Hope” (Hoffmann, 239).
Misplaced hope in Old Testament times and today can be summed up by the following Nietzsche quote:
“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man.”
Hope based on man or gods is hopeless. In the end it is futile.
However, Biblical hope is a safe bet. It bound the Israelites to God and God to the Israelites in an intimate, loving relationship not seen in other religions. Biblical hope does the same thing together between us and our loving, Father-God.
As was stated in the opening paragraph of the 1st post, hope can be described as having certain expectations based on a person’s (perceived or real) ability to perform. Old Testament hope based its confidence in the person of God.
“Because God is the hope of the righteous, they can expect good things from God and wait patiently for his help and deliverance. This patient hope is firmly anchored in the history and narrative of Scripture. The God who has fulfilled His promises to Israel in the past will continue to be faithful in the present and future.” (DPHL, 415)
This hope was not just for personal benefit. The Old Testament hope largely focused on “Yahweh’s coming in glory, His reign over a new earth, the conversion of Israel and the nations, and the new covenant based on forgiveness of sins” (Hoffmann, 240).
This Old Testament hope had an eschatological basis. The Israelites hoped in God’s guiding hand which one day would end all “earthly distress” by establishing David’s throne on earth, forever, through Messiah.
“The messianic age was seen as a time when Israel’s hope in God’s promises would be fulfilled, the Kingdom of God would be given to the saints, and the hopes of the ungodly would be destroyed by God’s judgment” (DPHL, 415). Because the people of Israel trusted in God they knew their hope was well founded on a personal and a national level (as a result of His History with them) .
Your Turn . . . Upon whom and where is your hope based? . . . Does it make a difference to your day-to-day living?
Related Posts . . .
- Grateful for the Hope That is Within Me
- Peace and Hope While in the Depth of Pain – John Stumbo’s Story
4 Part Hope Series. The posts will be hot-linked as they go live.
- Hope Based on Personal Strength is Futile (5/16)
- Biblical Hope (5/20)
- New Testament Hope According to Paul (5/22)
- Biblical Hope Shapes Response to Life (5/27)