Written by Derek Garrett
In our society, we use the word “hope” in the same way we use the word “wish.” We hope our team wins the big game, or we hope that this or that would happen. The Bible doesn’t use the word “hope” in that way. Biblical synonyms for hope are “comfort, expectation, confidence.” This gives us insight into the biblical meaning of hope. So, my personal working definition of hope is………“a confident expectation that produces comfort.”
Prior to the first Advent of Jesus, the faithful of Israel had this type of hope. Scholars tell us that about 400 years had passed since the nation of Israel had last heard a message from God – via the prophets. Despite that long period of silence, without a word from the Lord, they still had a confident expectation that a Savior, the Messiah, would come. This brought them comfort in the midst of their suffering and oppression under Roman rule.
How do we know they had this kind of hope? Luke 2 tells us that Simeon – a righteous and devout man – was “looking for the consolation of Israel.” He was expectant. You don’t look for something unless you expect it to happen. When his hope was fulfilled, he took the baby in his arms and he “blessed God” – he worshipped.
And there was the Prophetess Anna, who never left the temple, but served day and night with fasting and prayers. Was she confidently expecting the Savior? I think so. Why did she never leave the temple? Perhaps she was so expectantly waiting, that she didn’t want to miss the Messiah when he came. When she saw the baby Jesus, she gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all those who were “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She, and others, were expectantly looking and waiting. When He appeared, she worshipped, and she witnessed.
If these faithful believers of old had this kind of hope, what does this tell us? What can we learn from them?
In the same way they hoped for the coming of Jesus, at his first Advent, we should be full of hope for his second Advent. We should have that same confident expectation of his return. We should be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13). And best of all, that hope should bring us comfort.
If we have that kind of hope – that “confident expectation that produces comfort” – it should be life-impacting for us, as it was for Simeon and Anna:
- It will give us a new set of lenses through which we view this life. We will come to understand that we are strangers here – and citizens of a heavenly city, from which we eagerly await a Savior. (Phil. 3:20)
- It will strengthen us in our weakness, knowing that our tribulations are small and momentary in contrast with the glorious eternity that awaits us. (Romans 8:18)
- It will purify us – as we look for Jesus’ return, we will want to be found ready, and faithful. (1 John 3:3)
This type of hope, in our Savior’s return for us, will comfort us and carry us through this life.
And when our hope is fulfilled – like Simeon and Anna – we will see Jesus, and we will truly worship. May this Advent season find you full of hope – and may this confident expectation of our Lord’s return bring you comfort.