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Advent Week 1

Hope (the prophecy candle)

by

Steven P. Wickstrom

all Scriptures quoted from the ESV

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15 ESV)

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

The color of the 1st week of Advent is purple. In the Protestant religion this represents royalty - the coming king. In the Catholic religion this represents repentence and fasting. The candel is purple in color as well.The theme for the 1st week of Advent, hope, comes from Jeremiah 33:14-15, where God announced the message of hope to the nation of Israel. The announcement was that he would fulfill his promise that someday a king of the dynasty of David would rule over Israel; Jerusalem would be the city of God’s salvation. The Messiah would enact righteous laws and deliver moral judgment as a righteous king. He would be charitable in vindicating those that suffer wrong and punish those that do wrong: In doing so, He will execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

The word “hope” brings to mind several definitions. For example, we think of expectation or a desire for something as hope. Another example is when we want something to happen; we are “hopeful.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” In other words, wishful thinking that something might happen or might be true.

Knowing this definition of hope begs the question: How does the Bible define hope? In the Bible, hope is more than just wishful thinking. Instead, Biblical hope is a confident expectation that will fulfill his promises to us. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines hope as: “Trustful expectation, particularly regarding the fulfillment of God’s promises. Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance. More specifically, hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.”1

Hope in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, the primary word for hope is the Hebrew word, tiqvah (Strong’s H8615). Tiqvah is a word that is rich in meaning, and its primary definition is “eager, expectant waiting.”2 Here is a modern analogy of hope. Imagine a child sitting in front of a Christmas tree looking at the presents on Christmas Eve. He knows which one is his, but he cannot open it until Christmas when his parents hand it to him. He is so excited that he won’t sleep that night. Nevertheless, he knows the present is his and that his parents will give it to him at the appointed time. There is no doubt in his mind that the gift is his and that he will receive it. That child’s eager and expectant waiting is what Biblical hope is.

The first week of Advent reminds us of the hope of prophecy. We can have the eager, expectant waiting of hope, knowing that everything God prophets proclaimed will come to pass. There are 48 specifically Messianic prophecies (prophecies stating a Messiah will come) and 324 prophecies related to the Messiah (such as what he would do). Many theologians believe that Jesus fulfilled every single Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament. Other theologians think some Messianic prophecies deal with the second coming have yet to be fulfilled. Mathematician Peter Stoner (1888-1980), in his book, Science Speaks, calculated that for Jesus to have fulfilled even eight of those prophecies would be one in 100,000,000,000,000,000.3 Those odds are one in one hundred quadrillions. Jesus fulfilled far more than just eight prophecies. Those odds probably cannot be calculated, which is perhaps why Professor Stoner limited his count to simply eight of the prophecies. Here are the eight prophecies Professor Stoner looked at:

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
    Professor Stoner divided Bethlehem’s estimated population from the time of Micah to the present (1958, (c) of the book) by the estimated population of the earth during the same period (7,150/2,000,000,000 or 2.8×105).
  2. A messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1).
    One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner (in this case, John the Baptist) to prepare his way?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  3. The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
    One man in how many, who has entered Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey?
    Estimate: 1 in 100 or 1×102.
  4. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
    One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  5. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
    Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  6. The betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
    One man in how many, after receiving a bribe for the betrayal of a friend, has returned the money, had it refused, and then experienced it being used to buy a potter’s field?
    Estimate: 1 in 100,000 or 1×105.
  7. The Messiah will remain silent while He is afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
    When he is oppressed and afflicted, though innocent, one man in how many will make no defense of himself?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  8. The Messiah will die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
    Since the time of David, one man in how many has been crucified?
    Estimate: 1 in 10,000 or 1×104.

I think Professor Stoner’s numbers may be somewhat conservative. However, I am not a mathematician, but his numbers prove the accuracy of Old Testament prophecy. The prophetic accuracy of the Old Testament gives us confidence that God fulfills his word. If God says it, then it will happen. This accuracy proves that we can trust the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. It also shows that since Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah, that he is the Messiah. The fact that we can trust the prophecies of hope in the Messiah in the Old Testament demonstrates that we can trust the prophecies of hope in the Messiah in the New Testament. Just as the prophecies of the Old Testament of the coming Messiah gave the Israelites hope, the prophecies of the second coming of the Messiah in the New Testament also give us hope today.

Hope in the New Testament

The message of the Old Testament was, be ready; the Messiah is coming. The message has not changed in the New Testament. But this time, the saga continues; be prepared; the Messiah is coming back. New Testament prophecy gives us much hope.

  • 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
  • Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
We have a living hope given us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In addition, the promise of a future inheritance that will not perish awaits us. Everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior has this hope. Our eager, expectant waiting is for God to fully manifest his kingdom here on earth and physically dwell with us. It is the Christmas present we eagerly wait to open.

Hope in Advent

Out prayer on this first week of Advent is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” We place our hope on the promise of the second coming of Christ. The message of Christmas is one of hope. It is a message of confident expectation that Jesus is coming again. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Our hope comes from God himself, which is a very comforting thought. The confident expectation that is hope is not something that we have to generate. God gives it to us as a gift. Every prophecy in the New Testament about the second coming will come to pass. We should be excited about the second coming. The baby in the manger who was born a king is coming back to rule his kingdom. The King of kings and Lord of Lords is on his way. We wait in excitement, confidence, and expectation.



References

[1] Bert Dominy, “Hope - Holman Bible Dictionary,” StudyLight.org, accessed December 3, 2021, https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/h/hope.html.
[2] Daniel Schibler, “קוה” in the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1997), 3:895.
[3] David R. Reagan, “Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures,” Lamb and Lion Ministries, accessed December 6, 2021, https://christinprophecy.org/articles/applying-the-science-of-probability-to-the-scriptures/.


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