2 Corinthians 3:12
"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold."
While visiting with a young woman, Carol turned the conversation to Jesus and His kingdom. At that point, the woman began talking about her church. After some discussion, Carol asked what about Jesus, where does He fit in your church? To which she replied, "We don't really talk about him." Carol responded, "Then where is your hope?" With a chuckle, the woman replied, "I guess we don't have any."
What is Paul referring to when he says "We have such a hope"? His reference point is verse three, where he begins explaining the confidence we have in God through the work of Christ and His Spirit. Because of completed work of Jesus, the Holy Spirit acts in the lives of believers under a new covenant, not of the law but the Spirit. This covenant is written on our hearts, not like the old covenant of laws written on stone tablets. The old covenant was glorious, but the new covenant is so much more so, it is as if the old has no glory at all.
John Bunyan described the difference between the two covenants like this:
"Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings;
It bids us fly and gives us wings."
In Bunyan's poem, the difference is the new covenant, through the Gospel, giving believers "wings" which is the Holy Spirit. This fact is the reason for Paul's comment "We have such a hope."
The definition of the Greek word for hope is looking forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial. To understand hope, we must remember hope always has an object. For example in the statements; "I hope the Spurs win," "I hope she likes me," "I hope they have this in my size," each hope makes this truth evident. The object of each sentence is the Spurs, she and they. So, what is the object of the hope to which Paul refers?
Jeremiah 17:7 is very succinct, "Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence."
In today's reading, I noticed this hope in each passage. In 2 Samuel 10:9, Joab who is known more as a warrior than a worshiper of the LORD said, "May the LORD do what seems good to him." In Ezekiel, which at times appears hopeless, the Lord GOD promises to plant a tree in Israel that will bear branches, produce fruit, become noble and provide a dwelling for every kind of bird, obviously speaking of people, not birds. In David's Psalm, you don't have to look very long to find the object of his hope. "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever." (Psalm 61:2-4)
Romans 15:4 says the people and events in the Bible were provided so we might have hope. "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." In Titus 2:11 after describing the manner in which disciples of Jesus are to live in this present age, Paul adds this instruction "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."
It seems the questions for today are "Do you have any hope? If so, what is the object of your hope?"
My prayer for us is Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."