I decided to write some reflections on hope as I pass through Advent this year.
Advent doesn’t officially start till next Sunday, so this post will be a preface to this series. I hope you’ll join me, or find some devotional like the one here, or here , or here, or just pick up a Bible app and read a passage daily on one of the many options there are for readings through Advent… or follow along with the readings at my church’s app. If you join me here you’ll find me trying to trace hope through the Bible.
If you had to boil down the meaning of Christmas to one word you might say joy or love… both true. But the more I think about it, I would settle on hope as the meaning of Christmas.
Hope in our culture means making a wish. And it’s about as solid as the puff of a dandelion flower. In fact that’s what our culture means when we say hope. We mean wish. We hope for new jobs, better relationships, happier days, healthier bodies, to be married, to be single, to have kids… you get the idea. We wish for our circumstances to change and call it hope. There’s no confidence in it. It’s just something we want.
But that is not Christian hope. It’s not hope in the Bible.
I used the Blue Letter Bible tool to do a word search to find the original word translated hope in the Bible. I found the Hebrew word tiqvah (pronounced tick-vaw). (I’m not a Hebrew scholar… I’m just a curious girl who learned to use a Bible search tool.) So tiqvah literally means a cord.
The first place tiqvh is used in the Bible is where the Israelite spies tell Rahab, the prostitute, that she and her household will be saved from the destruction God is bringing on Jericho if she hangs a scarlet tiqvah out the window, the same tiqvah she used to let them escape safely from the king of Jericho.
Surely it’s no mistake that the word that became the word for hope or expectation in Hebrew is the word for the red rope that saved the spies from Jericho and saved Rahab and her family from the destruction God was bringing.
Hope at Christmastime in 2018 America can feel like a pipe dream to the cynics or a flighty wish to the optimistic. For the depressed, the suffering, the poor, the broken… all of us, hope is something we long for. But so often we don’t know what it is we’re hoping for. The Bible doesn’t give us a pipedream or a wish. Hope in the Bible is a rescue!
The Bible offers hope that deals with the deepest longing we all have to be made right. We are longing to be saved from the judgement we feel the effects of here and sense is coming in greater measure when we stand before our Maker. We look to temporary changes in circumstance and think, “Maybe this will save us. Maybe this will make things right.” But hope can no more come from our circumstances than a rescue from destruction on a city can come from a dandelion flower.
Hope is a scarlet cord woven through the scriptures. Let’s look for it till Christmas comes.