Hope is the Thing with Feathers
By: Emily Dickinson
"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
This poem, by Emily Dickenson, really expresses the best of what worldly hope can bring, a sweet sound for a short time, but sadly this worldly hope is unable to weather the storms of life! For the one who has faith in Christ, our hope weathers such storms because it is not tied to circumstances or something fleeting but rooted and helped by Christ himself.
Transitional statement to proposition
The devotion tonight is “Waiting for Our Salvation” which is an important theme that runs from the beginning of Genesis all the way through Revelation. I don’t know if you have ever pondered how even our salvation is inextricably tied to the idea of Hope. Our hope is not in a thing, nor is it even primarily a place, but the Christian Hope, our hope, is solely in the person of Jesus Christ.
Tonight, in our short time together, we will examine the glory of our hope from three perspectives so that we can express the gift of our salvation rightly before God, His church, and the lost amongst us!
Transition statement to overview
The three perspectives are as follows.
Overview your outline
o First, Our Hope begins at our Justification
o Second, Our Hope assists in our Sanctification
o And Third, Our Hope is Realized at our Glorification
Transition to Outline
Let’s look closely now at our first perspective
Our Hope that begins at Our Justification
Let me take you back in time, to the sixth Day when God evaluated His creation and pronounced it was very Good!
Oh, how unimaginable our world must have been, No sin, No death, no curse. Man in perfect fellowship with His creator. Man and wife in perfect fellowship with one another. And then Satan enters the scene, Eve is deceived, Adam Sins, and God pronounces judgment upon all who sinned! And now paradise is lost…imagine these words echoing in Adam’s mind, in your mind!
Ge 3:19 (ESV OT Rev. Int.) 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Adam is now faced with his complete personal failure, judgment and consequences that can not be undone or avoided, and the reality that death imminent. All that made paradise truly paradise, has been lost, and is now unrecoverable. Adam has failed to obey God!
Certainly each of us can relate through our own failures in some sense to Adam.
What a hopeless predicament! It is important to note, we are unlike Adam who knew paradise, because this hopeless condition is what we are born in! And yet, amazingly, in this valley of despair…Hope, for the first time is born and expressed on earth! And it is here where hope can begin its work! And from here hope will echo it’s call throughout the millenniums to come. This hope of Adam and for each of us tonight is Jesus Christ who will forgive our sins!
We see this hope when the gospel is first preached in Genesis 3:15.
Ge 3:15 (ESV OT Rev. Int.) 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Part of the gospel is here in that Christ will come and crush Satan.
Then a few verses later, in Genesis 3:18 we see hope when the gospel is first pictured! Ge 3:21 (ESV OT Rev. Int.) 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
The rest of the Gospel is here in that Jesus will take our place of punishment for our sin and our sin will be forgiven by God, and we be restored in fellowship to God. Death came, but it came to the substitute in order to provide the garments of skin.
And in Genesis 3:30 we see Adam understand this gospel and express this hope, by naming his wife Eve or life, as the mother of all the living. Adam believed in the promises of God.
And This hope is no different than Abraham who in Ge 15:6 (NASB95) believed in the Lord; and God reckoned it to him as righteousness or as David who speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
Their hope and our Hope are in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one of God who will justify the ungodly.
As it says in Romans 4:5 (NASB95) 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
.This is what we celebrate and remember at this time of the year. The arrival of the Messiah! The lamb of God, our substitutionary sacrifice. And that brings us to the passage we will examine tonight.
Exegetical Proof: Show how the scriptures make the point
Turn with me to Luke, Chapter 2, verse 21 and read with me from verse 21 to 24:
Obedience to the Law
Lk 2:21-38 (ESV NT Rev. Int.) 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “ Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
We now fast forward in time, to the arrival of the Messiah! We are still under the Law and we see Joseph and Mary obedient to the Law of Moses.
· In verse 21 they complete the circumcision on the 8th day and the Baby boy is named Jesus
· In verse 22 they arrive at the temple 40 days after the birth according to Leviticus 12 that states that a women can not enter the temple until 40 days after the birth of a male child.
· In verse 23, we are reminded the firstborn male is special to the Lord which goes back to the days of the Exodus (Ex 13:2, 12; Num 3:13; 8:17)
· And In verse 24, we see the sacrifice for their sin not for Jesus who knew no sin. I don’t know if you knew this, but a lamb was required for this sacrifice, but if they are too poor to give a lamb, then “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Is an acceptable sacrifice - one bird is for the burnt offering and the other for the sin offering
Clearly Joseph and Mary are showing their knowledge and obedience to the law. They are a godly couple expressing their faith in God surrounded by symbols, pictures, and rituals all pointing to Jesus and His justifying work that He will soon personally accomplish!
Think back to the time before your salvation! Did you view yourself as helpless spiritually? Were you hopeless and bankrupt in your self-made righteousness before God? Do you remember longing to be set free from the guilt and burden of sin? Ephesians 2:12 (NASB95) clarifies our situation best when Paul asks us to remember that you and I were at one time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Now in light of our past, contrast that when salvation arrived! When that hope was first expressed in you! Do you remember the longing when you first started loving God’s Word, Loving Christ, obeying and serving Him regardless of the cost to you personally and professionally! Is the fire and passion of your first love expressing that Hope today! Can others see now, the hope that came at your justification; when you were declared forgiven of the penalty of sin and given the righteousness of Christ? Do you draw strength and encouragement from this act of God in your life?
’ Transition to Next Point
As you rejoice in the Hope that begins at our Justification, let us now consider our second perspective.
Œ Homiletical Point:
Our Hope assists in our Sanctification
Take a mental jog with me to this morning. You awake and are confronted with getting out of bed and not hitting the snooze button. You are certain gravity is stronger at this time of the day in your bed than any where else on the planet! But try to remember what ran through your mind when the day just started…tasks, appointments, plans, responsibilities, and in the mix of things what were you Hoping? Now ask your self if that hope was a worldly hope with you at the center or was it a godly hope with Christ at the center? Was your mind solely set on the temporal, the temporary, the here and now? Or were the tasks of the day, saturated, and salted, and seasoned and tethered to eternal hope?
Ž Exegetical Proof:
Let’s go back to Luke and meet Simeon whose very life is centered on hope. Simeon joins Joseph and Mary in the temple. Let’s see how hope has assisted Simeon in His sanctification.
Let’s read on in Luke from verse 25 through 35
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
We don’t know much about Simeon except what is mentioned here in this passage. He is the antithesis or opposite of the religious leaders that Jesus would later confront.
The first word to describe him is found in Luke 2:25 “righteous”. And I believe this speaks of his justification. In this context, this word righteous is associated with a right relationship with God. In other words he is saved, not by the Law but by faith. And that expression of faith and hope in God is expressed in the second word that describes Simeon - “devout”. This word ‘devout’ means he was noted as one who carefully observes and obeys the law in the word of God. This refers to his sanctification or his obedience to be conformed to God’s standard. But if you look closely there is a third expression of his hope. He is waiting for the consolation of Israel. This word waiting is a beautiful word because it combines several ideas into one. In this context it combines the idea of looking toward the future, yet waiting patiently and obediently in the present, but preparing for what is going to happen.
Simeon’s sanctifying Hope looks, waits, obeys, and prepares!
Simeon could live this way because the Holy Spirit has revealed that He would not see death until He saw the Lord’s anointed! Simeon believed God’s word and expressed his hope through holiness! And now the moment has arrived and he holds the baby Jesus…you have to stop here and say WOW!
Holding God in your arms! Holding the messiah that was promised! Imagining studying the scriptures and now you are part of the story being fulfilled! First, Simeon rightfully blesses God and then He blesses the family.
His blessing is amazing! We are even told in verse 33 that Joseph and Mary were amazed. Do we stand alongside Joseph and Mary, just as amazed?
Now Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon which further authenticates these words that they are true and to be trusted! Another interesting note for any history buffs, these words by Simeon are called the Nunc Dimittis or Song of Simeon. It has been set to music as far back as the fourth century, it was used in the common book of prayer, and it was even used in the story of King Arthur. Listen to these words again!
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared
in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
One author says “Simeon represents himself under the image of a sentinel, whom his master has placed in an elevated position, and charged to look for the appearance of a star, and then to announce it to the world. He sees this long-desired star; he proclaims its rising, and asks to be relieved of the post on the watch-tower he has occupied so long.
Each of us is such a sentinel with this Gospel truth, and each of us too must make such a declaration, in season and out of season. There is no greater message of Hope than THE Salvation that God has solely prepared! Notice the word pictures of eyes, and seen, and light, and glory…all implying that darkness is in the world and in men! And no other message can penetrate nor rescue! As 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB95) states in whose case the god of this world (which is a reference to Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Sin and Satan has blinded them and anything less than the gospel light has no HOPE to penetrate.
If we have repented and placed our faith in Christ alone, this hope will reproduce in us A sanctifying Hope that looks, waits, obeys, and prepares! Simeon’s words are rich, drawing from the book of Isaiah chapter 52. And this hope sanctifies. ”. In a lot a ways this is no different that what Paul wrote to Timothy that we are to be unashamed workers, cleansing ourselves, to be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to our Master, and prepared for every good work! How are your daily decisions altered, impacted, and adjusted to be centered on Hope in Christ! Are you a different worker at your employment or are you a different mother or father, could someone tell you are living in light of this hope!
’ Transition to Next Point
o So let us Remember our first perspective that Our Hope begins at our Justification
o And Remember our second perspective that Our Hope assists in our Sanctification
o And now let’s view our third perspective, Our Hope is Realized at our Glorification
Let’s look now at verse 34…
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
These last words are frightening! How discouraging these words sound in contrast to what has just been pronounced! But these words are a sober reminder of what Christ will face – the unbelief of Israel and the Gentiles and the cross! And it’s interesting how Mary is singled out as the one whose soul will be pierced, almost intimating that Joseph will not be there to experience it! How would you feel inside if these words were spoken to you!
Ž Exegetical Proof:
But if we look closer at Simeon’s words we see first that the Child, that Jesus Christ, has been appointed! This word “appointed” captures the idea of destiny and in the same sense describes that Jesus has been put in charge, that he is responsible to exercise authority. And these two words, fall and rising, that follow make it clear the sphere of this responsibility – the souls of men in Israel. These two words, “fall” and “rise” are metaphors for eternal death and Eternal life. Christ has been appointed to bring salvation and should you reject, He will bring judgment and you will fall. The word for “fall” is the same word used in Matthew 7:27 (NASB95) 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”. The fall of house picturing the life of unbelief, no faith in Christ nor obedience to His Word!
And the word for “rise”, outside of Luke 2:34 is always translated as resurrection. Again playing off this metaphor for salvation, for eternal life. In Luke 2:35 we see that Jesus is the very sign, the visible witness that will be opposed, rejected and the means by which the thoughts of men will be revealed. He is the light that will expose error, confront lies, and be the dividing line between eternal life and eternal death!
And Mary’s soul will be pierced through as well. Whether this is referring to the sorrow she will experience over the death of her son, the division in her own house, or something else. One thing is clear at the very seat of her affections and emotions their will be great sorrow. The sword here a describing a long broad sword or long javelin, which further pictures great anguish and pain! I have never lost a child to death, but to be told ahead of time, knowing the trial that lies ahead, would be a difficult burden for me to bare. And each of us know, either directly or indirectly someone who has lost a child. And this brings us to the place where our Hope is realized in our glorification. Death is inevitable for all, except for the few that will escape the sting of death at the Lord’s second coming.
I can not imagine facing the trials of life without focus on the ultimate outcome of our glorification. That to me is the definition of hopelessness. If you are not focused on being in the presence of Christ who says in Re 21:4 (NASB95) 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” If this is not you vision in the valley!
Then you will be like the double-minded man in James who doubts and is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind…such a man is unstable in all their ways! Simeon, at the outset, had this vision, he was a ready servant, ready to depart in peace!
Are you ready with such a vision!
‘ Summary Statement
Hope in Christ played a crucial and essential role in the life of Simeon and other Believers like Mary, making it possible to live rightly and soberly before God and men, regardless of the past, present, or future. Had they not disciplined themselves to look, wait, obey, and prepare they could not hope!
’ Transition to Re-stated Proposition
What alarms me today about us and the church in America is that we have been so blessed materially and relationally in the here and now that we have been distracted from this Hope. I am afraid that if we were asked the hope question, we would answer the same way as unbelievers who have no hope! Why hope? There is food on the table? Why hope, there is money in the bank? Why hope, I have friends and family? Why hope, I am satisfied and entertained? Why hope, I am not persecuted for my faith? Why hope, I can solve the next problem on my own? Why hope? Indeed…why hope? It is nearly impossible for us to hope today because we practically don’t See the need because we have lost sight of the heavenly vision!
So let us consider these perspectives and begin to exercise hope looking back with joy at our justification. Exercising hope in our sanctification, drawing strength daily in our walk with Christ! And look to the future with hope in are glorification as we finally see the God of our salvation face to face?
Let’s us pray and reflect on the words of 1 Peter 1:3-9
1 Pe 1:3-9 (NASB95) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for each of us, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this Lord we greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, some have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of their faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of your son Jesus Christ; and though we have not seen Him, we love Him, and though We do not see Him now, but believe in Him, we greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of our faith the salvation of our souls.