“And His name will be the hope of all the world.”

Prophecy is supposed to have a positive effect upon us as Christians. The bible teaches that it injects life into our church, it encourages and builds up the individual. A prophetic word can also help us walk into our destiny. However, one of the most interesting impacts of prophecy is it’s ability to establish and solidify hope. According to Hebrews our faith is made up of ‘hope that is certain’. Therefore it’s vital that we have help understanding and believing what our hope is. What’s prophecy’s role? Prophecy brings visibility, colour and a vibrancy to the christian hope – it creates a little window into the future and allows us to peer inside giving us enough vision for that hope to become real.

The prophetic writings of the old testament can be known for their doom and gloom. However it’s important to note that there’s a beautiful song sung widely among them  – it’s a song of hope. It’s a song that emphasises our ultimate long term hope of restored nations and re-established world. It’s a grand hope centred on a great messianic figure – Jesus, who is the key to fulfilling the redemptive plan of God and is the hope for all humanity.

This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout; he will not raise his voice in public. He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory. And His name will be the hope of all the world.Matthew 12: 17 -21 

Isaiah Chapter 9

Isaiah chapter 9 loudly proclaims the wonder of this hope;

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on His shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!  Isaiah 9: 6&7

When this prophecy was written, the hope of the messiah’s first coming felt just as far off to people as His second coming may feel for us today. As we approach Christmas in 2012 we’re in a wonderful position of celebrating the fulfilment of part one of the prophetic hope that Isaiah shares whilst also eagerly anticipating the second part – Christ’s return and the hope of our eternal life on a renewed earth.

What is our Hope?

As we enter advent let’s reflect on the hope that we have.

The hope of Jesus is very present for life here today. Healing from sickness, restoration for relationships, provision for jobs and finances, freedom from fear, peace in the storm. All these things and more are available to the faith filled believer. It’s a hope that we have to pull on in faith and wrestle with while living in a fallen world.

However the apostle Paul says something very interesting and challenging in his writings to the people at Corinth about hope;

And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.  1 Corinthians 15:19 

Was he saying that present hope that Jesus can bring isn’t important? No. What he was saying was that present hope alone is incomplete – what’s needed is a thorough, detailed, rock solid hope in what is to come. As well as us having a firm grip on the hope we have today it is vital that we attain a grasp of the whole picture of hope that spans eternity.

The consequences of Christ’s birth, his life, death and resurrection are huge and ripple throughout eternity. He established and secured our redemption and resurrection. I am sure we will continue to marvel at as we live out our eternal life in the age to come.

Hope gives us permission to live freely

Do you ever wonder how the apostles could live with such abandonment and courage? How Paul could endure 3 shipwrecks, prison sentences and countless beatings? How Peter continued to preach even when his life was on the line? And Stephen, how did he hold such composure as he was being stoned to death?

You will have courage because you will have hope. Job 11:18

The common theme among the apostles was that their hope was secured. It wasn’t some ethereal wishy washy dream – to them it was more real than their lives on earth. It was so concrete that they were torn between longing to live here and longing to go and be with Jesus. And it set them free.

Free from restriction, fear, small mindedness. Free to live courageously, generously and full of joy.

Our hope is important. It anchors us into eternity giving us liberty here on earth.

As we approach Christmas let’s ask the Holy Spirit to impart even greater depths of understanding of the hope we have in Christ. Let’s read the prophetic writings of scripture with an eager eye and see the detailed picture they paint of life to come.

My prayer for you in this season, is the prayer the apostle Paul prayed to the Roman church.

I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.       Romans 15:13