The Hope of Abraham

Objective

The Objective of this lesson is to learn what type of hope Abraham had and how we can apply that to our lives to receive from God and accomplish things in our lives..

Context

Let me first present the context of the Lesson scripture. Paul is discussing the true mode or method of justification, which is by faith and not by works. He uses the belief that Abraham demonstrated in God to illustrate how Abraham was justified by faith and not through works. We however, are going to focus on the hope aspect of Abraham’s faith so that we can operate in the same faith that Abraham did and experience the blessings of God.

Background Text

The incident that Paul describes is recorded in the Old Testament at Genesis 17:15-24, 18:9-15, 21:1-3. You should note Abraham and Sarah’s response to God’s promise of a son. Both Abraham and Sarah laughed seemingly cynically at what was said. In Sarah’s case (then Sarai) she even lied and said that she didn’t laugh (Gen. 18). Both Sarai and Abraham were old (past the age of bearing children). Yet, God promised them a child (Isaac) and Abraham evidently believed him.

The Lesson

I will quote Romans 4:18 from the New Century Version of the Bible because of the clarity of the translation.

(Rom 4:18 NCV) "There was no hope that Abraham would have children. But Abraham believed God and continued hoping, and so he became the father of many nations. As God told him, "Your descendants also will be too many to count.""

There are two things that we can look at in any situation. We can look at only what our physical senses tell us and act solely on that or we can look at what our physical senses tell us in addition to the voice of the LORD. Abraham chose to hold to what God was telling him apart from what his own body was telling him. What do you do in a similar situation?

What is Hope?

(Heb 11:1 NIV) "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Secondly there is hope, then there is faith, and then action (based on the faith that you have). Before hope there must be something to put your hope (trust) in. In our case, we should put our hope in God. Hope is what we see in our mind’s eye. Hope is the vision or goal that is before us. We consider hope to be the new home, new car, new job, new stereo, etc. However, real Christian hope is much more than those because those things are temporal. Consider the following scriptures.

(Rom 8:24-25 NIV) "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? {25} But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

(Rom 15:4 NIV) "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

(Rom 15:13 NIV) "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

(1 Cor 13:13 NIV) "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

(1 Tim 1:1 NIV) "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,"

(1 Tim 6:17 NIV) "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

(Titus 1:1-2 NIV) "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness-- {2} a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,"

(1 Pet 3:15 NIV) "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

These scriptures refer to hope. Our hope is ultimately in God who promised us eternal life. Our hope is that we will experience eternal life just as God promised. This is the ultimate Christian hope. In this case, the object of our hope is eternal life. However, the object of our hope can also be anything else. We can hope in God to provide things for us according to his will.

The Object of Hope

Our definition of hope necessitates an object. That is, we have to hope FOR something and ground that hope in God. Here are some questions that you could ask yourself.

  1. What things do I want to accomplish?
  2. What things do I desire to have?
  3. What am I doing to obtain the things that I want?

What is the basis of my faith to obtain these things: God or myself?

First you have to clearly identify what you want. Thinking that you can just let God perform his will on your life without any activity from you is living in deception. You must actively pursue the thing that you wanted. The Bible gives a great example of this if we look at the Israelites. God promised them the Promised Land and yet they still had to fight various nations to obtain it. They had to do something. They didn’t expect God to just hand the land over. They knew that they would be victorious because of what God promised. There hope was in what God said to them and they believed God enough to act on what he said.

What is the object of your hope? What are you doing about it?

The Opponent of Hope

Hope in God is not automatically sustained. We must protect the hope that we have in God else one day we may find ourselves without hope in God resulting in lack of faith and crushed and unfulfilled dreams. Unfulfilled dreams will make your heart sick (See Proverbs 13:12).

Consider the next verse in our lesson scripture text.

(Rom 4:19-21 NIV) "Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. {20} Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, {21} being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised."

Abraham did not deny the condition of his Body. He did not confess that his body was vibrant and full of life. He resolved the fact that he and his wife were dead as far as bringing a child into the world. However, he did not waver in his faith in God that God would somehow do what he promised.

Faith and Hope

How are faith and hope related. Faith operates on the hope to bring the goal to pass. Our faith is in God to bring about what we hope for. Faith is the activity part of the process. Hope is the blueprint, goal, or desire that we have. We put our faith or trust (sometimes the bible uses the word hope and trust interchangeably) in God to bring about the thing that we hope for. Our trust is so secure in God that we consider the thing we hope for as reality that has not yet manifested. Our trust is so secure in God that we believe that he will do what we ask and that our hopes will not be deferred, rather manifested. Faith (trust or hope) is in God to fulfill our hope (vision or goal). So you see the importance of putting your trust in God instead of solely on your own resources or ability. Faith causes you to act as though the thing you hope for is a sure thing. A great example of faith and hope operating is your paycheck. You expect (hope) to get your paycheck and you make long term commitments based on your confidence in your job giving you your pay every payday. What if we trusted God the same way?

Supporting components

There are definitely things that support the hope that we have in God. I will list some below.

  1. Knowledge of God’s word so that we know what God said
  2. Acting on God’s word so that we can become accustomed and live according to his WAY (this is obedience)

Knowledge of God’s word means that we will have to study the Bible to know how the Kingdom of God operates. Some say that the Bible reveals the mind of God. That is an effective way of putting it. Obedience builds the confidence we need to act on God’s word. Without the confidence or assurance that God will do what he says and he can do what he says, we are less likely to act on what he says. If someone consistently comes through with what he or she promises you then you become more confident in believing what that person tells you in the future. The same principle applies to God. The more we obey him and see how he is true to his word, the more we learn to trust him.

So it is important to study the Bible and obey the Bible. It’s that simply.

Summary

Hope is the vision that we have and faith is in God to accomplish what he promised us and thus fulfill our desires. Faith and hope are founded upon the word of God and our obedience allows God the opportunity to bring it to pass in our own lives. Abraham was persuaded that God could do what he promised and did not consider the condition of his body but instead decided to just believe God to fulfill his promise. Can we do the same? Do you practice the same thing in your life?

Questions

  1. How do you think Abraham was persuaded that God would do what he said?
  2. Why do you think that God did not punish Abraham or Sarah for laughing?
  3. How do you suppose you would know when to trust God for something?
  4. How can you know if God is directing you to something?
  5. How can you know if the desire that you have is indeed from the Lord?
  6. How do you suppose true Bible hope can change your life?
  7. How will you use your faith to interact with the hope that you have?

 

By: 
William R. Cunningham