Hope in the Lord

duck-197240_640Psalm 130:7: O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

I’ll be concentrating on four words in the above verse: Israel, hope, love and redemption.

Israel

In the focus verse, it is Israel who is charged to hope in God. You will think that will come naturally to them, since they had seen God manifest in many ways, but they still needed to the reminded because of their tendency to forget, being a weakness of our minds as humans.

There is the tendency to focus on what you see with your physical eyes and to react to it in worry. Israel had been pushed by fear to follow the practice of the nations around, leaning on the arm of flesh, seeking for help from pagan nations and not from God (Isaiah 30:1-3). Israel fell once and again and again into that trap.

God is against this, because it paints him as a God incapable of taking care of his people, a God who has lost his shine, as his people now put their hope somewhere else and not in him.

Paul was bold to say that the church is spiritual Israel (Romans 9:6-8), children of Abraham (Romans 4:16-18) and inheritors of his blessings (Galatians 3:14). But we are still in the world and we need to always be cautious to not conform to it (Romans 12:1-2), and shift from hoping in God and being infected by love of the world (1John 2:15-17). Though we are in the world, sometimes we forget that we are not of the world, misplacing our hope.

Just as natural Israel were bought into covenant with God on Mount Sinai through the blood of animals (Exodus 24:5-8), the blood of Jesus brings Christians into covenant with God, into a superior covenant, which was confirmed with an oath (Hebrews 7:20-21, Hebrews 9:7-14).

The writer of the book of Hebrews says that God said to Jesus: I have sworn to you and will not change my mind; you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. So we are represented before God by an high priest operating by a covenant that cannot expire.

The covenant of God with the Israelites was based on the blood of bulls and that has been done away with (Hebrews 10:4-9). Anyone still in that is merely going through the motions; God is no longer in Judaism.

We have the blessing of Abraham, and much more, in Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3). Jesus said that among those born of a woman, no one is greater than John the Baptist, but the least is the kingdom is greater than him (Matthew 11:11). We are spiritual Israelites with spiritual capacities, which is our spiritual identity as Christians.

Hope

Hope is the word of expectation, and is linked with love and faith. It gives the picture that faith is built on, and hope feeds on the love of God. Faith feeds on hope (Hebrews 11:1). Hope is the capacity to see beyond the present reality based on the word of God.

The new covenant gives a better guarantee of hope than the old, bringing a clearer expression of the love of God in Jesus Christ, as the Levitical priesthood is done away with and there is the order of Melchizedek, the eternal priesthood.

There is blood that was shed from the man, Jesus, (the lamb [John 1:19]) who then rose up from the dead to offer the same blood to God as sacrifice as our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), in the order of Melchizedek, with unending priesthood.

Hope is a place where the practical conditions do not define you. When you live in hope, your heart is always lit with joy, as you see realities, possibilities that are not seen by ordinary people. Hope feeds on the word of God.

Habakkuk needed to go to the presence of God to have hope rekindled in him. He said: I will see what he (God) will say to me (Habakkuk 2:1). There is no valid hope except it is based on the word of God. You can be sure that since God said it, it will happen.

In the prison Joseph had hope in the word of God to him in dreams that he will he will head and not the tail (Genesis 39–47). Even though he was in prison and others saw him, as an imprisoned attempted rapist, he knew that was not true, that his lot was different. He knew he was meant for better things than what his physical situation defines. That was why he could be a bearer of joy in that stack prison. His hope proved true when he became prime minister and his brothers bowed to him.

Love

The love of God is described as steadfast in this focus verse, as opposed to the shaky love from anywhere else. In that permanent statement of his love on the cross where Jesus died, we know his love is immeasurable. Paul said that nothing can separate us from the love of God; nothing can put us out of the reach of his love (Romans 8:28-39). His love empowers to move on towards our destiny, assured of the constant approval of his love.

Inside his love is his benevolence, which James referred to when he said that every good and perfect gift comes from the father of light in whom there is no shadow of turning, or variation (James 1:17). There is constancy about him. He is faithful to his word.

There is no situation, in which the love of God is not strong enough to still be communicated to you, that you are special, impressing on you your new name: beloved. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, you are unreservedly loved by God and that is all that matters. That you should know. It fills you with comfort, comfortable emotions that you cannot explain.

The love of God sets us free from being in bondage to human approval. We are no longer needy because all our love needs are met in God and by God. We do not go on an emotional drought when people attitudes towards you takes a nose dive, because there is a constancy of the love of God to us, not because of what we have done or not done but because that is who he is: love (1John 4:16). He is an unrepentant lover.

Redemption

While “Israel” defines our identification; “hope” defines our expectation, “love” defines our emotion, and “redemption” stands for our transformation. We need more than we can produce within ourselves, to bring us out of the depth of sin, slavery to it, as humans.

The example is of a slave that needs certain amount of money to buy his freedom. But being a slave means he can’t work long enough to earn money to free himself, because whatever exertion and effort his puts into his work only helps the owner and not himself, whatever money he earns, belongs to his owners.

Born into slavery, we are meant to be there forever. But it gets worse. Everyone else is also in slavery to sin, the bible says there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). So we had no hope (Ephesians 2:12). But redemption came from God to us, redemption plentiful enough to cover everyone, on the bill of Jesus, the only man born free of slavery to sin, by the miracle of God, and who paid for our freedom by giving his life on the cross. Glory to Jesus!

 

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