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).
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.).
Quote: John Chrysostom called this situation: “It was against man’s hope, in hope which is of God.” (As quoted in Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (282). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
Hope is a decidedly Pauline word, and a word found more often in Romans than in any other New Testament book.. Faith is the belief in God that he will do what he has promised to do. Hope is faith moving forward and putting that faith into action. (cf. 5:2; 15:13; Gal. 5:5; Eph. 1:18–19; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 11:1; 1 Pet. 1:21). It is distinguished from secular optimism in that it is grounded in what God has done in Christ (Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (210). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.)
Poem: Of this situation, Charles Wesley said:
In hope, against all human hope,
Self-desperate, I believe; . . .
Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries: It shall be done!
Applying this to ourselves, if God is who he says he is (and he is!), none of his promises will fail because he forgets us or our situation is beyond his power. The problem is, many...keep in the back of our minds unexorcised suspicions that what we say we believe about God’s power is not really true. For all our lip service about trust in God, we rely chiefly upon what we can do ourselves. Some of us need to take deeper possession of the truths we have already believed about God. A good measure of how much spiritual truth we have appropriated is, how long is our worry list? (Hughes, R. K. (1991). Romans : Righteousness from heaven. Preaching the Word (101). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.)