A door of hope

… taken from MacLaren’s Exposition of Hosea 2:15

The Prophet Hosea is remarkable for the frequent use which he makes of events in the former history of his people. Their past seems to him a mirror in which they may read their future. He believes that ‘which is to be hath already been,’ the great principles of the divine government living on through all the ages, and issuing in similar acts when the circumstances are similar. So he foretells that there will yet be once more a captivity and a bondage, that the old story of the wilderness will be repeated once more. In that wilderness God will speak to the heart of Israel. Its barrenness shall be changed into the fruitfulness of vineyards, where the purpling clusters hang ripe for the thirsty travellers. And not only will the sorrows that He sends thus become sources of refreshment, but the gloomy gorge through which they journey-the valley of Achor-will be a door of hope.

One word is enough to explain the allusion. You remember that after the capture of Jericho by Joshua, the people were baffled in their first attempt to press up through the narrow defile that led from the plain of Jordan to the highlands of Canaan. Their defeat was caused by the covetousness of Achan, who for the sake of some miserable spoil which he found in a tent, broke God’s laws, and drew down shame on Israel’s ranks When the swift, terrible punishment on him had purged the camp, victory again followed their assault, and Achan lying stiff and stark below his cairn, they pressed on up the glen to their task of conquest. The rugged valley, where that defeat and that sharp act of justice took place, was named in memory thereof, the valley of Achor, that is, trouble; and our Prophet’s promise is that as then, so for all future ages, the complicity of God’s people with an evil world will work weakness and defeat, but that, if they will be taught by their trouble and will purge themselves of the accursed thing, then the disasters will make a way for hope to come to them again. The figure which conveys this is very expressive. The narrow gorge stretches before us, with its dark overhanging cliffs that almost shut out the sky; the path is rough and set with sharp pebbles; it is narrow, winding, steep; often it seems to be barred by some huge rock that juts across it, and there is barely room for the broken ledge yielding slippery footing between the beetling crag above and the steep slope beneath that dips so quickly to the black torrent below. All is gloomy, damp, hard; and if we look upwards the glen becomes more savage as it rises, and armed foes hold the very throat of the pass. But, however long, however barren, however rugged, however black, however trackless, we may see if we will, a bright form descending the rocky way with radiant eyes and calm lips, God’s messenger, Hope; and the rough rocks are like the doorway through which she comes near to us in our weary struggle. For us all, dear friends, it is true. In all our difficulties and sorrows, be they great or small; in our business perplexities; in the losses that rob our homes of their light; in the petty annoyances that diffuse their irritation through so much of our days; it is within our power to turn them all into occasions for a firmer grasp of God, and so to make them openings by which a happier hope may flow into our souls.

But the promise, like all God’s promises, has its well-defined conditions. Achan has to be killed and put safe out of the way first, or no shining Hope will stand out against the black walls of the defile. The tastes which knit us to the perishable world, the yearnings for Babylonish garments and wedges of gold, must be coerced and subdued. Swift, sharp, unrelenting justice must be done on the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, if our trials are ever to become doors of hope. There is no natural tendency in the mere fact of sorrow and pain to make God’s love more discernible, or to make our hope any firmer. All depends on how we use the trial, or as I say-first stone Achan, and then hope!

So, the trouble which detaches us from earth gives us new hope. Sometimes the effect of our sorrows and annoyances and difficulties is to rivet us more firmly to earth. The eye has a curious power, which they call persistence of vision, of retaining the impression made upon it, and therefore of seeming to see the object for a definite time after it has really been withdrawn. If you whirl a bit of blazing stick round, you will see a circle of fire though there is only a point moving rapidly in the circle. The eye has its memory like the soul. And the soul has its power of persistence like the eye, and that power is sometimes kindled into activity by the fact of loss. We often see our departed joys, and gaze upon them all the more eagerly for their departure. The loss of dear ones should stamp their image on our hearts, and set it as in a golden glory. But it sometimes does more than that; it sometimes makes us put the present with its duties impatiently away from us. Vain regret, absorbed brooding over what is gone, a sorrow kept gaping long after it should have been healed, like a grave-mound off which desperate love has pulled turf and flowers, in the vain attempt to clasp the cold hand below-in a word, the trouble that does not withdraw us from the present will never be a door of hope, but rather a grim gate for despair to come in at.

The trouble which knits us to God gives us new hope. That bright form which comes down the narrow valley is His messenger and herald-sent before His face. All the light of hope is the reflection on our hearts of the light of God. Her silver beams, which shed quietness over the darkness of earth, come only from that great Sun. If our hope is to grow out of our sorrow, it must be because our sorrow drives us to God. It is only when we by faith stand in His grace, and live in the conscious fellowship of peace with Him, that we rejoice in hope. If we would see Hope drawing near to us, we must fix our eyes not on Jericho that lies behind among its palm-trees, though it has memories of conquests, and attractions of fertility and repose, nor on the corpse that lies below that pile of stones, nor on the narrow way and the strong enemy in front there; but higher up, on the blue sky that spreads peaceful above the highest summits of the pass, and from the heavens we shall see the angel coming to us. Sorrow forsakes its own nature, and leads in its own opposite, when sorrow helps us to see God. It clears away the thick trees, and lets the sunlight into the forest shades, and then in time corn will grow. Hope is but the brightness that goes before God’s face, and if we would see it we must look at Him.

The trouble which we bear rightly with God’s help, gives new hope. If we have made our sorrow an occasion for learning, by living experience, somewhat more of His exquisitely varied and ever ready power to aid and bless, then it will teach us firmer confidence in these inexhaustible resources which we have thus once more proved, ‘Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.’ That is the order. You cannot put patience and experience into a parenthesis, and omitting them, bring hope out of tribulation. But if, in my sorrow, I have been able to keep quiet because I have had hold of God’s hand, and if in that unstruggling submission I have found that from His hand I have been upheld, and had strength above mine own infused into me, then my memory will give the threads with which Hope weaves her bright web. I build upon two things-God’s unchangeableness, and His help already received; and upon these strong foundations I may wisely and safely rear a palace of Hope, which shall never prove a castle in the air. The past, when it is God’s past, is the surest pledge for the future. Because He has been with us in six troubles, therefore we may be sure that in seven He will not forsake us. I said that the light of hope was the brightness from the face of God. I may say again, that the light of hope which fills our sky is like that which, on happy summer nights, lives till morning in the calm west, and with its colourless, tranquil beauty, tells of a yesterday of unclouded splendour, and prophesies a to-morrow yet more abundant. The glow from a sun that is set, the experience of past deliverances, is the truest light of hope to light our way through the night of life.

One of the psalms gives us, in different form, a metaphor and a promise substantially the same as that of this text. ‘Blessed are the men who, passing through the valley of weeping, make it a well.’ They gather their tears, as it were, into the cisterns by the wayside, and draw refreshment and strength from their very sorrows, and then, when thus we in our wise husbandry have irrigated the soil with the gathered results of our sorrows, the heavens bend over us, and weep their gracious tears, and ‘the rain also covereth it with blessings.’ No chastisement for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’

Then, dear friends, let us set ourselves with our loins girt to the road. Never mind how hard it may be to climb. The slope of the valley of trouble is ever upwards. Never mind how dark is the shadow of death which stretches athwart it. If there were no sun there would be no shadow; presently the sun will be right overhead, and there will be no shadow then. Never mind how black it may look ahead, or how frowning the rocks. From between their narrowest gorge you may see, if you will, the guide whom God has sent you, and that Angel of Hope will light up all the darkness, and will only fade away when she is lost in the sevenfold brightness of that upper land, whereof our ‘God Himself is Sun and Moon’-the true Canaan, to whose everlasting mountains the steep way of life has climbed at last through valleys of trouble, and of weeping, and of the shadow of death.

 

Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.  From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.  On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.”  For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.  I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.  And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.  I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.  On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel;  and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”; and he shall say, “You are my God.” Hosea 2:14-23

Justin Rizzo – Ever Present Help

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With boldness

When you have the hope for everyone and then are chained for sharing that hope – most of us would probably quiet down a bit.

Not so with Paul.

We get a glimpse into his character through the second of two letters he wrote to the church in Corinth.  He writes to them of the promise God made that our sins have been forgiven because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. Paul’s boldness came from that belief in God’s promise that Jesus had forgiven him for fighting against God Himself as he persecuted the early church. Paul’s whole life existed around that declaration of God’s love.  How often we read of his thankfulness to God for having mercy on him and bringing him into God’s family. Our lives revolve around the same, does it not? God gathered up all of our sins, every single one of them, and put them on His Son when He was on the cross. Our hope is in His promise that we will spend eternity with Him and that is why Paul is so bold and why we can be so bold.

 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. – 2 Corinthians 3:12

 The promise of the Spirit is in the resurrected life of Christ and brings us into the fulfilled promise of God. Our hope is in the resurrection.

Therefore boldness does not mean insensitive, brash, rude or aggressive – it means, speaking up, giving hope, caring, loving and action.
  As Paul continues to share the good news that put him in chains to those who would listen – even though they did not believe right away – they kept coming back because of the message of hope. It was clear, from OT passages of scripture, that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus pointed to Him as their Messiah.

I wondered why Paul had to go to Rome in the first place. Part of Paul’s boldness came in knowing the will of God and the courage it would take to follow Him when the moments came with hard decisions.

 Paul knew as much about the OT as any religious teacher of his time.  The fact that he missed the Messiah in all of those passages made him more determined that others would not. Everything hinged on one act in particular – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 

 

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. – Acts 28:30-31

Bethel Music- Walk in the Promise ft. Jeremy Riddle

Call on Me

Psalm 50 is about God holding people in court, on trial for insulting Him, and it is in that context that He is offering them hope.

I am not sure just what a day of trouble looks for you, but for me it cannot get much worse than being in God’s presence and on trial.

Basically, we are talking about prayer and the worship of our heart – something God desires more than anything else.

When we pray, God answers and brings Him glory. It shows that He is a reality to us.  There is in a sense a spiritual connection that is made.

Prayer is filled with a manifest hope in God exhibiting a clinging affection to Him and a sure confidence.

 The law brings us into bondage, but grace proclaims hope.

Even so with this promise – we need to be patient. It might seem that God has ignored us or that we have to take up the case ourselves – but the one who feeds the sparrows will provide everything we need. Hope – and in the arms of faith as we are in our sea of trouble – God will deliver us.

Our emotions can become waves of resentment and fear for the future – in those moments life seems darker as the storm rages on and on.  Even so – we must remember that the only secure place to put our hope is in the character of God. Our breath prayer needs to sound like this – “my hope is in You and I hope in Your unfailing love.

Robinson Crusoe has been wrecked. He is left in the desert island all alone. His case is a very pitiable one. He goes to his bed, and he is smitten with fever. This fever lasts upon him long, and he has no one to wait upon him—none even to bring him a drink of cold water. He is ready to perish. He had been accustomed to sin, and had all the vices of a sailor; but his hard case brought him to think. He opens a Bible which he finds in his chest, and he lights upon this passage, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” That night he prayed for the first time in his life, and ever after there was in him a hope in God, which marked the birth of the heavenly life. (favorite portion of Charles Spurgeon’s)

 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  Psalm 50:15

All My Hope On God Is Founded

I will deliver you

If there is hope for those who are on trial for insulting God – there is hope for you and I. We are only to believe.

Hope in such times can only come from the One who can give hope.

Here are three truths —

  • Command – “call on me in the day of trouble”
  • Promise – “I will deliver you”
  • Purpose – “and you shall glorify me” 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. – Psalm 50:15

Vertical Worship – Call on the Name

(Live Performance Video)

 

Promise made by God

God gives a reason for us having hope. The hope that we have allows us to be men and women of God in the midst of trying times where we feel we might not want to give honour, or subdue to the temptation of flattery or worse, be afraid of someone.   Even as our hope may be strong, we must remember to still be men and women of virtue, not chargeable with any open vice or profaneness, and sound in our faith.  These things to do not justify us before God, but they give us our reputation around people.

The hope of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life can be found in the Old Testament ( Job 19:26-27 ) ( Isaiah 26:19 ) ( Daniel 12:2 ).  Funny how the Jews had brought a prisoner to a Roman judge accusing him of a belief they all had.   

And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews!  Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? – Acts 26:6-8

God Loved the World

God loves me

The redemptive acts of God were Israel’s great hope as they were a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. They were the inauguration of the national covenant.

That covenant is also the same hope we have too.  It is not because we are special, or more wonderful or more deserving than anyone else – God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we may receive the gift of eternal life with Him.  It was a promise He made to us in Genesis, even before the covenant made with Abraham. 

How deep and wide is that love that He has. It is a love I can place my hope in.

It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples.  It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations – Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Chris Tomlin – Jesus Loves Me