20 “For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
Acts 28:20 (NIV)
Have you ever hoped to get out of a bases-loaded jam: like in your marriage or in another relationship, or in a financial jam? How about facing a speeding ticket (or two), or even possible incarceration?
I have felt most of these. Can you relate? It sure is nice to have hope of deliverance.
The Jews of Jesus’s day hoped for deliverance, for a good “season,” finally. They really needed one, it had been too long. Centuries of oppression were theirs. It had been rough. They longed for a breakthrough way bigger than the Cleveland Browns.
And so the term “hope of Israel” became their expression. God gave it to them. This is what it meant: God will deliver by sending a Deliverer. So that became their quiet rallying cry.
But they viewed their deliverance and deliverer as just political, national. They thought all they needed and could hope for was a messiah found at that level … like the hope of LeBron James coming to deliver another Cleveland team.
They couldn’t hope for more than this, could they?
But God wanted them to see that their hope could and should be found in far more. He provided a personal, universal, more-than-political, more-than-sports-franchise hope, one way bigger and better. He didn’t want them settling for less.
They wanted deliverance from Roman rule. He wanted them to experience deliverance from more -- the bondage of personal sin, the loneliness of eternal separation, the pain of condemnation, and the weight of pervasive guilt and pernicious shame.
As seen in Acts 27, the apostle Paul went to great lengths to preach a bigger, better hope … even if it put him “in chains.” People with great hope always fight hard (and those with little hope don’t). Paul’s hope was too real, his Deliverer and deliverance too mighty.
He stood beautifully compelled and completely careless among men.
Reflect: What kind of hope drives you? Who needs to hear of your reason for hope today?
A prayer to consider: LORD God Almighty, You are strong to save and mighty to deliver. You are not only the hope of Israel but the “desire of nations” (Haggai 2:6,7).
Thank You for providing for my deliverance through your Son and your Spirit. Help me to give others hope as You have richly furnished me. For Your glory and my joy, Amen.