Against All Odds, Hope
Writer: John Arnold
Big Idea: Son of David, son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Matthew opens his gospel with a genealogy which signifies a major shift in the story. For an ancient king, establishing credentials was essential to person’s legitimacy to a throne. Matthew begins with Abraham connecting Jesus to God’s promise of redemption since Genesis 12. Abraham received a promise, but each month, year after year, he faced disappointment as they remained childness. Hope is resilient, but it is far from easy. Abraham’s life was a lesson in waiting and not always with success. Unrealized expectations over time create channels for bitterness and despair to permeate our hearts. How we wait, matters just as much as what we are waiting for. Hoping for something is different from hoping in something. For Christians, our Christmas hope is for Someone.
Key Passages: Genesis 12:1-9; 15:1-6; 16:1-16; 18:1-15; 21:1-7; Romans 4:18-22
Advent and Christmas of course, is about Christ, the Messiah. Christ’s genealogy begins in Matthew and listed as a descendant of Abraham. In thinking and writing about Jesus’ heritage through Abraham I realized I had not given much thought about our Christian ancestry. Though I had studied the O. T. narrative regarding Abraham, and writings about him in the New Testament, I had not realized how central his story of faith and hope is to us. It is especially meaningful to me because for a period of time in my Christian life, I was part of a church that taught we are righteous by faith but added additional legalistic teachings and rules about Christian living that eventually caused pain to several sincere people. This was disappointing for me, for I was part of the leadership and sincerely hoping God would bless our ministry.
The understanding of Abraham’s life is essential for understanding Christianity and the significance of Jesus. The Lord chose Abraham to be the father of the Jewish nation, the one through whom the promised Messiah would come, and through Him all peoples of the earth would eventually be blessed. Abraham’s life exemplifies true hope and faith in the Lord, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Abraham began with faith and hope in God’s words and actions. In the same way, our faith in Christ is distinctive: righteousness is based upon our faith in our Lord, for He is our righteousness. It is not based upon others or on our own imposed religious rules.
Abraham’s faith is a great example of patiently waiting and hoping for what seemed impossible to believe, God’s promise that he would have a son. Abraham continued to wait, as his wife Sarah continued childless, well beyond the age of childbearing. He also patiently waited for other promises to be brought to fruition:
- He had faith and hope that God would be with him and bless him as he departed on a journey in which he did not know where he was going. Heb. 11:8, 10
- He had faith and hope that God would him make the father of many nations. Gen.17:1-5
- He had faith and hope that God’s everlasting covenant, that all nations would be blessed in him would be fulfilled, and was, eventually through his ‘seed’, Christ. Gal.3:8, 9, 16
- He had faith and hope in God and patiently waited for a son. Rom.4:18, 20, 21
- He had faith and hope in God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Gen.15:6, Rom.4:3.
- He had faith and hope in God that He would raise that son, Isaac from the dead, even if he, Abraham, would need to kill him, as God had asked him to do.Heb.11:17-19
Abraham is an example of one who walked with God, displaying his obedience to God over and over. Scripture describes him as one who walked with God, talked with Him about judgment, prayed to Him, and was a “friend of God”. This was a result of Abraham’s faith and hope in God’s faithfulness.
Though I was hurt and deeply disappointed by my earlier church experiences, through God’s grace I believe my faith has grown. I have hope in Jesus Christ. I have been and continue to be greatly blessed. Abraham and his lineage show us that the way to God is through faith in Him and hope in His promises and love for us. Most importantly, a hope and faith in the promise of the descendent of Abraham, the King, Jesus Christ. This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, my prayer is that our stories are filled with faith and hope like that of the father of our faith, Abraham.
How have you handled disappointments related to your spiritual experiences, in the church or otherwise?
Read: Romans 4, Romans 5:1, 2, Galatians 3:16-28
- From Romans 4, how was Paul using the illustration of Abraham’s life to explain how justification is obtained?
- What did you find significant regarding Abraham and Sarah in this chapter?
- Which example(s) of Abraham’s hope and faith stood out to you?
- In what ways is our faith in Christ similar to Abraham’s faith?
- What step will you take this week to grow your hope and faith?
Prayer: How can we be praying for you concerning your relationship with the Lord?