Hoping Against Hope
Sermon shared by Matthew Kratz
Summary: Three realities of Biblical hope: 1) Its Analysis (Rom. 4:18–19), 2) Its Assurance (Rom. 4:20- 22), and 3) Its Application (Rom. 4:23–25).
Series: The Hope Series
Audience: General adults
About Sermon Contributor
After six months of intense fighting that shut down oil-production facilities and forced massive evacuations of expatriate oil workers, Libya’s future as a place to do business brightened dramatically as leaders of the Libyan uprising met with world powers in Paris France to map out the country’s rebuilding and Canada lifted unilateral economic sanctions imposed last February. In a speech at an air force base in Trapani, Sicily, before attending the Paris talks, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally thanked Canadian soldiers for their role in neutralizing in Libya. He said: ".. thanks to you, there is new hope". He concluded his speech by saying: " just as Canadians thank you for your work here, I know that countless thousands of Libyans have reason to be grateful, too. Few will ever know you by name. Some may not even yet be born".... But if Libya can seize the opportunity that now lies before it, the real results of your actions these past five months will be seen in little things. Things we in Canada take for granted in our country. Families going about their lives without fear. Children, for the first time, with hope for the future". (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Thanks+there+hope/5342942/story.html)
The patriarch Abraham had hope through the promise of God, that his descendents, his children would have a future. Abraham had every reason, from a human point of view, to give up the attempt to produce a child through Sarah, as both were well beyond the physical ability to produce children. His hope flew in the face of that which is founded on the evidence of reason and common sense. The ancient patriarch had hope when, from the human vantage point, there was absolutely no basis or justification for hope. Yet despite the seeming impossibility hoped for, he believed it would happen as God said.
People often use the word—“hope” as something that they long for when the odds seem against them, like “I hope to win the lottery”. But Biblical hope springs from the promise of God. Abraham’s faith is not described as a “leap into the dark,” a completely baseless, almost irrational “decision”...but as a “leap” from the evidence of his senses into the security of God’s word and promise (Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (282–283). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).
In Romans 4:18-25, the Apostle Paul shows us through the life and faith of the patriarch Abraham three realities of Biblical hope: 1) Its Analysis (vv. 18–19), 2) Its Assurance (v.20- 22), and 3) Its Application (vv. 23–25).
1)The Analysis of Biblical Hope (Rom. 4:18–19)
Romans 4:18-21 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
The apostle Paul declares of Abraham that in hope he believed against hope. Grammatically this is known as an oxymoron, a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory ideas are combined (e.g., thunderous silence, sweet sorrow, etc.). Abraham against hope, or beyond hope, nevertheless (had) hope (KJV Bible commentary. 1997 (2226). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.).
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