Implications of the Word, Pt. 8
A New Way to Look at ‘Hope’
Study Guide, September 10, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
A rope represents a connection between two things; generally a strong connection, one that you can count on, and rest in, and trust. Through the years, as I’ve watched people go through hard things, either physically with various health issues, or spiritually with various belief issues and such, I’ve often thought that it would be helpful to hand somebody something to hold onto, like a rope. And not just a rope, but a rope that stood for something beyond itself; symbolized something that helped them sense their connection with the One who was on the other side of the rope. And particularly, helped them think about the treasures of all they possessed, all the benefits they had, and all the repose they could have, all because of the One who was on the other side of the rope with whom they were connected.
With that said, it’s come together in what I’ve come to refer to as: “The Rope of Hope.” And, of course, the rope has no attributes or powers in and of itself, but the One who holds the other end of it does. That’s why there’s only one knot on the rope, because the other knot is in the hand of the One who made us and redeemed us, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
God actually paints a picture of this connection to His people as being like ropes of kindness and love. And perhaps a reason why this imagery is sometimes missed is because God introduced that concept to His people of Israel at a time when they were straying from Him and He had to remind them of what He had done for them and was willing to do again. Hos 11:3-4- “I Myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with My ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck,and I Myself stooped to feed him.” ERV
The thing is, since God introduced the picture of this connection between Him and us as being like ropes of kindness and love, we can make good use of that image to help us better understand how great God’s care for us really is and how much we can trust and rest in that care. And since His love contains all His attributes we can then also add to it this picture of the ‘Rope of Hope’. So let’s expand on it.
Notice what the Psalmist said about God and ‘hope’. Ps 71:5-6- “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You.” NASU
I’m going to use the letters of ‘HOPE’ to expand on some of the wonders and reasons for God being our confidence and reasons to rest in His kindness and love for us, especially when we are going through tough times in our lives, either physically or spiritually. So for ‘H’ we have this: Hope is a Person. And as soon as we say that it moves ‘hope’ from even beyond this wonderful virtue to the wondrous ‘source’ of this virtue. You see, the Psalmist took the virtue of ‘hope’ itself and attached it to God Himself as being his very hope; “For You are my hope, O Lord God.!” Now, Biblical hope is based on deep assurance and confidence about everything that God has revealed to us in His Word. This hope is like an anchor that keeps us steady in the midst of this crazy world that is tossed around by the winds of faulty human reasoning and the waves of worries and doubts and such.
And as David implied, one of the reasons our hope is like an anchor is because it’s based upon the nature and character of God. David even goes back to this as a basis for God being the ‘Helper’ he can depend on: Ps 124:8- Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” NASU When your help is coming from the One who made the heaven and earth, that’s as firm a foundation as you can get.
So our hope is not only in the One who made all things, made us; but our hope is also thee very One who saved us from the penalty of our sins, from the power of our sins, from the bondage of our sins, from the power of the devil, and has promised to deliver us from this mortal world into a world of immortality. As the Apostle Peter put it in 1 Peter 1:3-5- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” NASU ‘A living hope’. And ‘a living hope’ equals ‘a present joy’, of which to us, our Lord Jesus is both; our hope and joy!
Let’s go to the ‘O’ in HOPE. The ‘O’ can symbolize ‘Overcomer’, for that is who we are in Christ Jesus. John 16:33- “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” NASU Jesus has overcome the world, and since we are now in union with Him eternally, we, too, are partakers in His victory and ‘Overcomers’. From whatever battles we have to face, from the battles with our culture, to battles with those we don’t know to those we do know, to battles within our bodies to battles within our minds; we do not face them as those who are overcome by them, but as those who are, ourselves ‘Overcomers’…’Overcomers in Christ’.
One of the recurring phrases to the Churches of Revelation is “to him who overcomes”…and then there is a promise from God of some great reward or rewards. One implication of this call from God to His people, to us, to overcome is that overcoming temptations and trials and struggles is possible because we are ‘Overcomers’ in Christ. Remember, God never calls us to do what He doesn’t also equip us to do. That’s one of the great comforts that the Psalmist celebrated in Ps 23:4- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” NASU
What makes the difference in any valley of life is not how long or how deep is the valley, but Who it is that walks through the valley with us. The One on the other side of the rope is our Shepherd, who is there to take us through the valley and to comfort us in the valley. And even when our trial or trouble is like a shadow of death for us, the One who walks with us is the ‘Light of the world’. Someone has said that when there is a shadow there must be light nearby. There is…there always is, because Jesus is the Light of the world, and has said to us: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And that’s even another reason why we are ‘Overcomers’ in Christ.
Now to the letter ‘P’ in ‘HOPE’. And here we think of ‘Peace’, which is actually a birthright of believers. Notice what the Apostle Paul says in Rom 5:1-2- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” NASU I remember my Pastor in college often talking about this passage and saying how so many people are always talking about wanting the ‘peace of God’ in their life, yet without having first made ‘peace with God’ in their life. Until a person is ‘justified by faith’, or declared ‘not guilty’, and instead declared ‘righteous in Christ’ through repentance toward God and placing faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior…until they make peace with God they cannot have the peace of God.
But when anyone surrenders to God in repentance and puts their trust in Jesus as their personal Savior, then God pardons the sin penalty that separated them from God and He reconciles them to Himself. There is now ‘peace’ between them and God where their was once ‘separation’ due to their sin penalty upon them. Plus, they can now enjoy their new birthright to having the ‘peace of God’ working in their life, along with what Paul went on to describe in Rom 5:3-5- “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” NASU
Since the believer has made peace with God now the peace of God is going to make even the problems of life produce something of good and lasting value on behalf of this born again child of God. Imagine, sitting in a hospital room dealing with some illness, some accident, some disease, or whatever it might be and being able to say to this tribulation: “You may be troubling me, but God is going to see to it that if you trouble me you are going to be made to produce something for me…some perseverance, some proven character, some hope, and even a greater experience of the love of God poured out upon me through the Holy Spirit given to me.”
Remember, sickness or trials or tribulations never have the last word for a child of God. No, God has the last word and He makes sure that even problems will be made to produce something of good and lasting value on behalf of His children. You and I can be at peace about that, and experience peace in the midst of any of that.
And then for the ‘E’ in ‘HOPE’ – ‘Encouragement’. Back to what Jesus said in Jn 16:33. And let’s go to the Amplified Version to catch the full implication of this powerful promise. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
Now remember, these are kingdom words spoken by the King about the victory of His kingdom over this world. There may be temporary losses in this world, but eternal victory for us is assured. As has been aptly put by Bible commentators for God’s children: ‘We are to remember – we fight not for victory, we fight from victory!’ And therefore, we are not to let any temporary trials and troubles diminish our victories or define our losses, for the victory is already won for God’s children by our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we will have to deal with the struggles of this world, with the hardships of this world, physically and spiritually, but God is supplying us with ‘courage’, pouring ‘encouragement’ into us as we daily look to the Holy Spirit to ‘fill us’ with this ‘encouragement’. And as we do so we can then have ‘hope’ and can then rest in the fact that, as God’s victorious children, we cannot be defeated by this world.
Remember, our encouragement lies in the face of God’s grace and in the fact that He will help us make it through any difficulties or sufferings that we ever have to face in our present lives. At times, He will deliver us entirely from these situations. At other times, He will deliver us entirely through these situations, as He leads us through the valley to the place where we most belong; Home. For example; even deliverance from sickness in this world is at most a temporal healing. What we see as death on our side is more fully seen as the ‘ultimate healing’ on the other side. But the point again is that God’s children always win…win over even sickness and death. And how encouraging is it when you know that nothing in this world can defeat you because Jesus has already overcome this world, and you are united by grace through faith to your Maker and Savior Jesus forever!
This ‘Rope of Hope’ can remind us of these things; Hope is a Person, Hope is being an Overcomer, Hope is having Peace as our birthright, and Hope is receiving Encouragement from the Holy Spirit as we look to Him to be filled by the Spirit of Christ day by day.
So the plan is to make up a good number of these ‘Rope of Hope’ pieces, along with a card with the verses and a few thoughts about these great truths of God for us. And then we’ll make them available to any who would like to share this message of hope with others they know who are facing some trial or trouble, either in a health struggle or a spiritual struggle and such. And again, there’s no power in the rope itself, but there is power in the One who holds the other end of it. For remember, God Himself is the one who draws us and leads us with ropes of kindness and love. And that’s why we can call this a ‘Rope of Hope’. In fact, we are looking for our hope, the Blessed Hope, referring directly to the return of our Savior, but indirectly to Jesus Himself as being our Blessed Hope.
Rom 15:13- “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” NASU
Ps 62:5-8- “Wait calmly for God alone, my soul, because my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my Savior—my stronghold. I cannot be shaken. My salvation and my glory depend on God. God is the rock of my strength, my refuge. Trust Him at all times, you people. Pour out your hearts in His presence. God is our refuge.” God’s Word Version