Faith and Hope; December 20, 2019

Matthew 12:21 “In his name the nations will put their hope.”

It is significant that Matthew, who wrote his Gospel for Jews, probably in Aramaic, included this quote from Isaiah. Where the NIV says “nations,” the Japanese is even more specific in saying “Gentiles.” The whole question of whether a non-Jew could be saved without becoming a Jew first just about sank the early Church, prompting two major Church Councils, first after Peter had the temerity to obey God and baptize Cornelius and his household, (Acts 10-11) and then after Paul had such success in his missionary journeys. (Acts 15) Today the situation has essentially flipped, with the absurdity of Replacement Theology saying that the Church has eliminated the Jews from God’s plan. That’s just window dressing for antisemitism, and history shows that’s clearly of the devil. Matthew, whom God had focus on the Jews after his secular career as a tax collector had been one of betraying the Jews to the Romans, still could not avoid the reality that God’s love, God’s plan, is big enough to encompass all mankind. The particular phraseology God had Isaiah use is also significant. Hope and faith are deeply intertwined, but they aren’t the same thing, or Paul wouldn’t have listed them separately in 1 Corinthians 13:13. In some ways hope is a precursor to faith. We hope something is true even before we are sure that it is. Paul put it this way: “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:24) Faith, on the other hand, is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) At this point in our existence, we certainly need both!

To me, perhaps the ultimate expression of this distinction between faith and hope is, “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) I have settled faith that Christ is in me, giving me eternal life, but I do not yet see more than a small taste of the glory that is to come. As a pastor, I desire to impart both faith and hope. It must not be false hope, drummed up in human imagination, but rather “hope [that] does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5) Many people have essentially given up on life, to the point that they are afraid to hope. When God gives a promise, that is a true hope! To me, pessimists make poor evangelists. You could define optimism as being hopeful, and that is how I want to be. I am to be a realist, not denying the current state of events, but my faith should always give me hope that God is going to use all the mess that’s going on for blessing, and for His glory. (Romans 8:28)

Father, thank You for this reminder. We are constantly bombarded with negative experiences of all sorts, and yesterday was no exception. However, You also did some very good things in the day, and I have hope for resolution today of some of yesterday’s negatives. May I keep my eyes on You, allowing You to fill me with faith and hope, so that those I encounter may be drawn to You as well, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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