Sunday School Lessons

How Great is This Hope?

Are there things that you have hoped for?  If you’re like most people, these hopes have turned into a combination of disappointments (when a hope isn’t realized) and celebrations (when it is).  Let’s focus on the latter for a little bit.  What have you hoped for that you later received?  Was it a relationship that went well (maybe turning into a lifetime together)?  Was it a raise or promotion (or both)?  Was it just to show up somewhere to find out that someone you didn’t like was absent?

We hope for some big things and some small things (which I think is OK), but when something that we hope for is obtained, that can be pretty exciting!  The author of Hebrews describes an even better hope, though:

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19‭-‬20 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.6.19-20.NIV

Why is this hope better than all of the other things that we hope for?  For one thing, this hope is secure.  I don’t know if you’ve been unanchored in life, but I suspect that you have sometimes felt lost and drifting.  When we need an anchor, this hope of God’s unchanging promises gives us that stable foundation that we can stand upon.

This is kind of like the man who built his house on the rock (see Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:46-49), but remember who Jesus described that man like: “…everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…” (from Matthew 7:24).  God’s promises give us hope, but we are expected to do something with that hope.

And, this hope – through Jesus – is giving us access to God.  This hope is described as entering “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain”.  The physical curtain that separated the innermost room of the temple was torn in two the afternoon that Jesus died on the cross (see Matthew 27:51-53, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:44-46).  Unlike the previous high priests, Jesus no longer has to move aside the curtain to intercede on God’s behalf.  He never had to atone for His own sins (because He didn’t have any) before atoning for ours.  Having atoned for sins once for all time, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, and serves as our ultimate high priest, forever.  He can bring our messages to God, with the ability to both understand us (since Jesus experienced humanity) and to speak directly with God (since Jesus was seated in a place of honor with God).

As a result, let us remember that God is no longer far away.  There is no church leader that we have to go through, no special ritual that we need to perform, and no special time that we need to wait for.  Instead, we should accept God’s promises (both those that are fulfilled, and those that are yet to be fulfilled), and live in both confidence and obedience: confidence that we can pray to God in Jesus’ name, and obedience to God’s message through Jesus Christ.

So, while I hope that you hope for good things in this world, don’t miss out on the one guaranteed thing that we can put our hope in (i.e., our salvation [see Hebrews 6:9-12], plus life with God, in the family of God, both here on earth and for eternity), if we accept and follow Jesus.  Then, once we have this hope, let us live in freedom with that hope, knowing that we have Jesus to intercede for us with God the Father.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 10, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, October 10, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.

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