Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. –Zechariah 9:12a, KJV
Everyone has a hope, but where does this hope come from? Many say, “I hope for the best, or I hope so.” This type of hope has no foundation. It has nothing to hold on to. God’s people have a sure hope in Christ, but they do miss his sensible presence when he withdraws himself from them. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12). They become prisoners; only Christ can set them free. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lam. 3:22–24). The stronghold they are told to turn to is Christ and him crucified. This is their hope.
Indwelling sin is the prison cell from which God’s people would be freed. Hope is the key which unlocks this prison cell, and hope is given by faith in Jesus Christ. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:24–26).
Hope is the anchor that God’s people hang on to, giving them strength to travel the pathway of life through the wilderness to their eternal home.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb. 6:17–20)
This hope shows God’s love for them; therefore they love him in return.
God’s people long to be conformed and transformed to be like him, their redeemer and husband. “My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word . . . Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope” (Ps. 119:81, 116). Oh, the sorrow and shame that is felt when they grieve the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives them repentance. Repentance brings forgiveness and reconciliation bringing and restoring hope. What a wonder there is a Savior who says, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22).
What is your hope centered on? To hope only for this life is a hope which shall end in eternal despair, but our hope centered on Jesus Christ will bring eternal joy. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:27–28). “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” (1834)
Mr. Cornelius VanKempen known as Case, has been married to Susan for fifty-seven blessed years. They attend and are members of Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, MI.