I have filled my Christmas season this year with contemplations of the Christ and His Bride. I’ve thought about the love Jesus has for the church, the peace Jesus bestows upon those in Him, and the joy that comes from being His. Now my thoughts turn to hope. Because, when you think about it, weddings stir up a lot of hope.
Singles hope that someday they will find a compatible spouse. A bride hopes for a perfect wedding day. And couples hope for a happily-ever-after.
Not to play the Christmas Scrooge here, but those hopes are based upon worldly things—which isn’t a reliable hope. As painful as it is to admit, unreliable hope is no hope at all. For real hope is forged in certainty. And certainty originates with God.
A union with Jesus, however, satisfies all those longings—for in Him all hope is fulfilled.
The Bride of Christ can hope for something greater than what this world offers . . . and not be disappointed. For the Bride of Christ can hope in glory. Heavenly glory! All because her Groom has come.
He came to fulfill the hope of ancient Israel for a Messiah. To fulfill the hope of mankind for salvation. To give humans a hope and a future.
God came, in flesh. Therefore, as the Suffering Servant, He identifies with the plight of man (Hebrews 2:12-14).
And He came as King—with sovereign rule and authority.
He came . . . to be our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13).
The coming of the Christ was the hope of the ancients—from Adam and Eve all the way to Mary and Joseph. And His return is the hope of every generation—from the first apostles until He comes.
Then hope will cease. It has an end. Because once fully realized, it will no longer be necessary.
But, oh, it sure is needed here and now, isn’t it? As Brett McCracken wrote, “The essence of hope is not the downplaying, justifying, or avoidance of present pain and sorrow. Rather, hope is the expectation that as real as the pain is now, it will one day feel as foreign as our faintest memories.”
The church acknowledges and addresses the wracking pain in this world and offers hope. She serves and shares the love and generosity of her Groom to relieve suffering. And demonstrates faith. For belief leads to hope. It’s what you believe in, however, that determines the validity of that hope. So, the Bride administers the balm of hope this hurting world so desperately needs.
It is a hope anchored in the things promised by God that reaches forward into the future. A glorious future which includes the return of the King, our resurrection, a new heaven and new earth, the redemption of all things, and a grand wedding feast. But our hope also harkens back to the very beginning. To one ultimate yearning which encompasses all of hope’s desires.
I will show my love to the one I called “Not my loved one.” I will say to those called “Not my people,” “You are my people”; and they will say, “You are my God”
But for that, let’s revisit the message God gave His prophet Hosea to deliver to His people. In chapter two of Hosea, God addresses Israel’s unfaithfulness in stark honesty. He pronounced just judgment upon them for their idolatry, equating it to adultery. God had every right to divorce His adulterous bride, but He could not be unfaithful—for it is impossible for God to act out of character. Instead, He assured there would come a day when they would call Him “My Husband” (Hosea 2:16). Further, He promised:
And I will betroth you to me forever.
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice,
in steadfast love and in mercy.
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.
And you shall know the Lord.
I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people”; and you shall say, “You are my God”
(Hosea 2:19-20, 23).
That’s it, right there! That’s the hope of every heart. The hope for God to restore the perfect union where we are His and He is ours—in faithful love. As husband to bride.
To be God’s, in the fullness of Christ, is to possess all blessings. For He is life and light and love everlasting.
Christmas is the time of year when our hearts are joined in hope. They are joined with those who came before us who, in hope, waited for the coming of their Messiah. They are joined with our fellowman, as we too wait, in hope, for His return. We are wedded in hope. To one another. And to our Bridegroom, who is the hope uniting all humanity—past, present, and future.