The Advent of Hope

By Matt Honeycutt

Hope Defined

What is hope? The world we live in thinks of hope as something that is unsure, something that “might” take place in the future without any guaranteed result. Many people today use this way to describe hope when it comes to things such as, “I hope to get this job,” or “I hope to get a good grade on my test at school,” or even, “I hope to get a good report from the doctor.” All of these scenarios instill anxiety and fear due to the absence of a guaranteed promise.

Thankfully, Christians do not rely on that definition of hope. The Christian’s hope is much different. Biblical hope is a confident expectation anchored solely on the promises of God. During Advent (the weeks just before Christmas) we celebrate and rejoice in a hope that is rooted particularly in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our hope, our confident expectation that God has, does, and will keep all His promises! The hope we have today in Jesus is grounded in the past that looks to the future with confident expectation. It is an eschatological hope.

Prophetic Hope and Messianic Expectancy from Isaiah 9

We find God’s promises that instill hope all throughout Scripture. During Advent season, Isaiah’s messianic prophecies serve as a great encouragement to believers. In Isaiah 9, written 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, we find the ancient prophecy of a coming child, a Messiah (anointed one) who was promised to be an eternal king. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”

The words “child” and “son” here are significant. Child points to the fact that Jesus has a human nature. This human nature is essential to the fact that Christ was able to die in our stead for our sins.[1] The second word “son” points to Jesus’ divine nature that He is and has to be God. As a son, Jesus is considered equal to God the Father, thereby making Him part of God’s homoousios, or substance.[2] In other words, Jesus is God just as the Father is God.

Take note that the language of Isaiah 9:6 is rooted in the past – although with some future elements – especially in the names and titles given to Jesus. Notice the last part of v.6, “and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

In Isaiah’s prophecy, some of these names and titles refer to Jesus’ humanity, some to His deity, just as child and son point this out.  For instance, the words “counselor,” “mighty,” “father,” and “prince” all refer to Jesus’ humanity. Whereas, the titles “wonderful,” “God,” “everlasting,” and “peace” all refer to Jesus’ divine nature.

Consider this fact. If Jesus was only a man He would not have been able to pay for our sin since all humanity is condemned as sinful (Romans 3:23). In addition, Jesus had to be God to live a perfect, obedient life and die in our stead to pay for our sins. This is what gives us hope. Isaiah tells us the true meaning of Christmas is the child and the son that has been “given,” the greatest gift of all. And this gift is Jesus who is our blessed hope.

As Charles Wesley wrote long ago in his hymn, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, we find the messianic hope of Christ’s earthly ministry in the past, as well as our confident hope of Christ’s return in the future.

         Come, thou long-expected Jesus,

Born to set thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in thee:

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,

Hope of all the saints thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.

Born, thy people to deliver;

Born a child, and yet a King!

Born to reign in us for ever,

Now thy precious kingdom bring:

By thine own eternal Spirit,

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By thine all-sufficient merit,

Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Conclusion

This Advent and throughout the coming New year remember that Jesus is the centerpiece of why we have hope. We have hope that is rooted in His incarnation in the past, and we have hope that He will return for His Church one day in the future.

We learn from the Scriptures that Jesus became incarnate to live a sinless life in obedience to God’s law, something we could never do. And he became incarnate to die in place for our sin so that we could have the hope of restoration and future glorification. Paul summarized this well in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We are also promised Jesus’ return as our Savior and King to set right all the wrong in this current world. We pray and long for the curse to finally be removed (Revelation 22:3).

The coming of Jesus is the best hope God could ever give humanity. Without Him there is no hope in this world, no salvation to experience, no reunion with our loved ones, and no heaven. How depressing is that? Many are depressed this time of year because they get their eyes fixated on the things of this world and they have no hope. Our hope, on the other hand, should be in nothing other than the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, He is the manifestation of hope itself. May the God of hope comfort you this Christmas season. Anchor yourself in Jesus. He is the only sure and steadfast hope!


[1] Hebrews 2:16-17; Philippians 2:7-8.

[2] John 3:13-18; 5:17-21.

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