by Christopher Harbin

Hope Realized
Christopher B. Harbin
Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44; Romans 13:11-14

''Hope is the last to die.'' Hope makes a difference in our living and preparing to live. It makes a difference in our celebrations. Advent is a season of waiting. Advent is also preparation. We prepare our lives to experience the fulfillment of our hope. We anticipate fulfillment. We live in the assurance of what is to come. My family's Christmas tree may still lie in the attic. The assurance of Christmas' coming, however, has already impacted the way we speak, the places we go, the songs we sing, and the plans we make. We live in anticipation. What good is hope, however, if what we hope for never comes to pass? Can we begin celebrating even before the promise comes to pass? As believers, how can the reality of our hope be realized before we see its fulfillment?

They had long awaited the coming day of peace. It captured the nation's imagination to think along Isaiah's hopeful words of a day of restoration. Yahweh would come to establish a permanent reign of justice, peace, hope, and prosperity. The swords of nations would become plowshares. Spears would be transformed into instruments of harvest. Yahweh would personally arbitrate between nations, eradicating those conflicts that would lead to war, fighting, and its related devastation. Isaiah's words of hope were not for his generation alone. Hope cast a vision for what could be. It cast a reference for life as God intended. It gave encouragement and purpose to the living who yearned for that greater reality.

For generations the people lived with this vision of hope. It seemed to take forever in coming. Many tried to do something about it, believing that it must be up to them to bring about the anticipated reign of Messiah. They won small battles and little victories, but the cost was great, and the peace so longed for seemed just as far away as ever. They clung to that hope, regardless. It was this hope that kept so man ...

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