140914 Hebrews 6:19

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 Written by Pastor Pagels

Guest preacher: Tutor Matthew Rothe
Text: Hebrews 6:19
Theme: Hope: Not A Scheme, Not A Sigh, But A Statement and An Anchor

If you asked him, he'd be honest with you. One of the reasons why he married his wife was simply because her beauty took his breath away. As a young man Abram looked at Sarai and said to himself, " This is the lady I want to start a family with." But the prime of their lives had passed them by and here they were... He was 75 and she was 65 and they had nothing. Oh sure, they had some things: they had money (and lots of it), they had land, they had servants, and sheep, and goats, and cattle more than they could count. But all this amounted to nothing. For you see, a couple [and especially for the woman] in those days they got their heritage, their sense of pride, their sense of self-worth, and their social status based solely on whether they could produce an heir, a child. So having no kids meant Abram and Sarai had nothing and were on the verge of becoming a no one...

And it was to this nobody who had nothing that God appears in Genesis Ch. 12 and says, "Pack your things, Abram. Leave the faithless land in which you live, your family, and go where I show you." God promised him saying, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing" (Gen 12:2). To which Abram replied, "Yea, that sounds good. I'm in. Tell me when we leave."

And you have to love how this story unfolds with all its twists and turns. Genesis records how this old boy from the boonies becomes the Patriarch of all Israel, really the father of all those who believe in Christ, and no details get left out. Romans 15:4 tells us this story, as well as all the others recorded in the Bible, was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Hope...that we might have hope is the reason God gave us Scripture. And it is that word – it is that idea of hope –I'd like us to focus on this morning, for you see, the word 'hope' has gone through a world of hurt and come out misunderstood and often meaning something that God never intended.

God and humans define hope differently. Human "hope" needs no foundation, no factual basis, and no historical proof, and that makes human "hope" uncertain. For instance, most of us here hope the Packers play better today than they did in week 1, and there are others here who hope they won't ever have to hear another Packer reference from the pulpit again, but there is some serious doubt whether either side will get what they hope for. You hope so, but you aren't sure, for doubt has been injected into a word that God intended to have no doubt. Human hope is cloud based - and no I don't mean it's safe like cloud based computer storage – I mean you cannot stand on a cloud.

God's hope, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. God's hope means something will surely happen. God's hope is certain for it has its foundation in Christ our solid rock. And so we turn our attention to the story of Abraham where God teaches us all about what hope is and what it is not.

I. What Hope is not: A scheme.

In Genesis Chapter 12 God says, "Abram, Go! I'm going to make you into a great nation and bless you." Abram is on board and he sets off. Later, in the same chapter, the Lord appears to Abram, takes him by the hand, and says, "Look. See all this land. It will belong to your offspring." Remember! Abram has no offspring and he's 75! But Abram trusts God, makes a sacrifice to Him, and says, "Praise be to God!" Then a famine hits the land, Abraham again has to pack his tents and moves south to Egypt. And here we enter a time in Abraham's life where we see his hope that once trusted God's promise turn from godly hope into that very humanistic hope coupled with doubt that is really no hope at all.

As he was about to enter Egypt, Abram said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you" (Gen 12:11-13).

WHAT!? Abram, did you forget the great I AM just showed up to your front door twice this year promising, "I will make you into a great nation. I will make your name great. I will give your offspring all this land"? Did you forget that intrinsic in God's promise is assurance, Abram, that God will keep you safe at least until you have offspring?... And forget is exactly what Abram does. You know how the story goes. Pharaoh takes Sarai to be his wife. And let's be real, Abram's forgetfulness is really faithlessness. Faithlessness that crowds out true heaven-based hope, and lets false human hope take over.

Yet what does God do? Let Abram come to ruin and find someone else to establish our Savior's line through? No. Two chapters and a few years later God reaffirms his promise to Abraham saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." God takes Abram outside and says, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars, can you count them Abram?" Abram goes, "No Lord, I can't." And God said to him, "So shall your offspring be" (Genesis 15). Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.... Abraham's faith is restored; his human hope turns back toward godly hope, and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Not quite.

Fallible human hope is a part of who we are as humans, and this human hope always does one of two things. First, human hope schemes. First, human hope is guided by that popular yet pitiful phrase that says, "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst..." What human hope really means is "Hey, have a happy attitude, but get ready for disaster because the good you wish for, well, there's no foundation that says it'll happen, so it likely will not happen." We saw this kind of "hope" when Abraham was in Egypt, and now, ten years later, we're in Chapter 17 of Genesis... "Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her" (Genesis 16:1) And Abraham replied, "Sarai, no! My hope, my faith, is in God. I trust he will give us a child without me committing adultery by sleeping with your maidservant"... That's what it says, right? Strike two...

I love how 'real' the Bible gets with us by showing us how even this great man of faith is susceptible to the horror of human hope. Human hope schemes, it does not trust God, rather human hope makes other plans because human "hope" doubts. It doubts even what God says... Abraham looks at his wife (who is good looking...but 75 years old mind you!), looks at her young Egyptian maidservant, looks back at Sarai and says, "Yea babe, that's sounds as good a plan as any. I'll do it. I'll take this one for the team." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

Stop. Before you say, "I can't believe Abraham was so dirty and doubtful." Pause, and think if your own lack of heavenly hope that rests in God's sure promises has ever caused you to instead follow human hope that schemes.

As a church family and as church leaders, how many times were hours spent in meetings talking about hundreds of different 'what-ifs' forgetting God's role in executing ministry? Don't get me wrong. God definitely gives us the responsibility to plan and execute his mission and ministry from a human perspective, but have our plans forgotten his certain promises and his power? Personally speaking, how many times have you stayed awake doubting whether or not you made the right decision for yourself or your family because you weren't sure if God could care for you in your current situation? How many times have you celebrated your own plans, schemes, executions, and victories when the credit and the glory should have been given to God? How often don't we plan things we know are contrary to God's plan/will for us and yet we, humanly speaking, "hope" God works things out for our good...all the while our plans/schemes in no way show we love him.

Godly hope is not about the worrier, the brilliant visionary, the eternal optimist, or even the positive upbeat personality that says, "Hey guys we got this!"...Godly hope remembers God. It remembers His promise when he said, "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). God says, "Scheming is not what true hope is about." Human hope that prepares for the worst after God has promised us the best is really no hope at all. It is faithlessness... Yet through our faithlessness and hopelessness God remains faithful to us, and he did to Abraham as well...

II. What Hope is not: A sigh.

For the sixth time God appears to Abram (after the Hagar incident) and said, "I will confirm my covenant between me and you, and will greatly increase your numbers..."And so you don't forget it I'm changing your name to Abraham. "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."And I wish I could tell you that Abraham finally got it. I wish I could tell you that he left all his doubt at the door and rested in God's certain hope, but he didn't. With a sigh he fell facedown, laughed, and said, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" (Gen 17).

Abraham said, "God, just let Ishmael, my son from Hagar, be my heir." ... And that is the second thing human hope does, it sighs. It says, (heavy sigh) "I hope God will help me" but what we really mean is (heavy sigh) "I wish God will help me, but I doubt he really can." While human hope on one extreme gets active scheming depending on one's self, on the other end it gets apathetic sighing, doubting that God can and will fulfill his promises...

We hope that our church will grow and more people will come, but we kinda' doubt it will actually happen. We hope God will bless the plans made last week at the planning meeting last week, but I guess we can't really be sure. You say to yourself, "I hope that God blesses me in my current job, I hope he watches over my kids while they are away, I hope He hears my prayers, but if I'm honest, I would have to say I have some doubts.

III. What Hope is: A statement!

The LORD said to Abraham, "Why are you and your wife wishfully sighing and doubtfully laughing? And what God says to Abraham next is something you and I must not forget... "Why are you sighing, why are you doubting, is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Gen 18:14) And with that the conversation ends, and Abraham realized his folly and so do we. "Is anything too hard for me, Abraham/members of St. Matthew's?" "Well no, God, I guess not."... And perhaps for the first time Abraham realized that the key difference between his human hope and God's hope is the foundation upon which the hope is placed.

Abraham realized that his hope had often been placed in himself, and he, according to Romans 4:19 was "as good as dead." And as long as our human hope sighs it is a sign that we too are depending on ourselves, and it will always leave us sad, for without God we too are as good as dead. As long as human hope schemes, it will always leave us shamed as we are basing our plans on us, and human hopes are cloud based...you can't stand on that.

But true hope is not a sigh, it is not a scheme, rather godly hope is a statement. It is a statement that saves us. God's hope saves for it has as its foundation the statement, rather the promise, of salvation through the resurrection of Christ. "Against all [human] hope, Abraham in [godly] hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him,"...And yes, there was moments where he sinned and relied more on human hope than God's hope, but God remembered his sins no more, just as he does for us, and when it come to the promise God made him "[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." [and] The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us [you and me], to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Rom 4:18-24).

How can believing a promise result in our righteousness? Our reading from Hebrews tells us plainly ... God promised righteousness for those who believe and "It is impossible for God to lie, [so now] we who have fled"... fled from fleeting and faulty human hopes that are uncertain... we have fled false hope in order "to take hold of the hope set before us [that we] may be greatly encouraged" (Hebrews 6:18). We have hope set before us. True hope is something outside of us, set before us by God. Why? For our good, that having taken hold of this HOPE with the arm of faith we may be greatly encouraged...

IV. Hope as an Anchor

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). Let me tell you a personal story about anchors...Each summer my Dad's side of the family goes up north to Eagle River. I'll never forget the first time I was old enough and strong enough that my dad gave me the job of dropping the anchor into the water when we reached our favorite fishing spot. Now, for my first time, this happened to be not just any anchor, but our boat's brand new anchor. The job sounds easy enough, right? But I blew it. You see when I went to go pull the anchor back up, I pulled up nothing but an empty rope...I had forgotten to attach the rope firmly to the brand new anchor. I'll never forget the feeling I had as I looked at my dad with an empty rope in my hands, and explained to him why the boat had been moving so much.

If we had human hope as our anchor this is the picture of what life would be like; us sad and shamed holding an empty rope. But the hope you do have is God's hope and "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).

The picture Hebrews gives us is form when large ships would come into the harbor from a long journey. There, in the harbor, would be a rock deeply embedded into the granite. They called that rock the "Anchoria." From this we get our word anchor. Crew members of the large ship would get into little boats and take the anchor rope from the large ship and row it into the harbor and fasten it firmly to the Anchoria rock so the boat could rest in the harbor safe and secure. This is the type of anchor you have as hope for your soul! Hebrews furthers the metaphor of hope as our anchor telling us where this anchor is fastened... "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. [Our hope] enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf" (Hebrews 6:19-20).

The anchors of human hope we drop into the lake are lost to sight, but God's anchor of heavenly hope is not dropped down but taken up to God and fastened in the inner sanctuary (which is heaven) by Jesus himself who lived for us, died for us, rose for us, and then ascended into heaven entering a place where we once could not go, attached our anchor there, so that now heaven is our sure home. Hope is synonymous with salvation, for Hope is a statement that saves because hope is an anchored securely to Christ who is that solid rock on which we stand.

King David said, "the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive..." (Psalm 33:18,19). Ps 33 shows the blessings that come from living in godly hope are not only for our life after death, but they're for this life too.

When trials and afflictions you've experienced brought pain and sadness it was not human optimism that allowed for your happiness, but true hope that brought joy, for Rom 12 says we must "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

When you felt like you no longer had the strength to do God's ministry much less even carry on in your daily life, it was, and will always be godly hope that propels you. "For those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31.

It is hope that has been this Church's catalyst for reaching the lost for you, like 1 Peter 3 says, "[You have] Always been prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

Knowing godly hope - the hope of eternal life means your present life is a life of unimaginable joy, laughter, fulfillment, and expectation because a glorious surprise is waiting for every believer. Your life is celebration and it will never, ever, ever end. It is eternal! No wave can rock you, no scheme of man can separate you, for you are fastened by Christ Jesus to God's eternal hope and your home in heaven... and that makes God's hope your hope.

"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." (Romans 15:13). Amen.

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