To hope for something is to long for it, but also to expect it to come. In his wisdom Solomon wrote in Proverbs 10:28 , "The hope of the righteous shall be gladness. But the expectation of the wicked shall perish." Hoping is expecting that for which one longs. Idol worshipers have hope, for they long to be set free from pain and suffering, and they expect their idol to bring them there. The righteous long and expect to be delivered from the act of sin as well as from the punishment of sin.
The psalmist makes that very plain when in Psalm 119:73,74 he writes, "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments. They that fear Thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in Thy word." Or as our versification has it:
Thou, Who didst make and fashion me,
O make me wise, Thy law to learn:
Then they that fear Thee shall be glad
When they my hope in God discern.
Notice that he does not pray that God will tell him what His commandments are, but that he may have understanding through learning these commandments. He prays that God, Who "made and fashioned" him, will cause him to understand what it means that man was made and fashioned in the image of God, as His friend-servant. He is concerned with understanding and learning to know how to live in love toward God. He longs and yearns for the day when he will be able to think, will, and do only that which man was made and fashioned to do as God's image bearer.
How about it? Is that your longing and expectation? Or is your idea of heaven merely an escape from suffering the curse, the punishment of sin? Do you want to be as sinless as Christ was during His sojourn among us?
If we only want escape from the punishment of sin, we do not understand God's commandments. And we do not understand what Christ did for us by going to His cross. That cross was God's way of lifting us up to holiness. For only those who are freed from the act of sin will be in that place where there is no punishment of sin.
Read: Psalm 119:73-88
Psalter versification: #330:1
Meditations on the Heidelberg Catechism
Song for Meditation: Psalter #202
Why not sing along??
Through the Bible in One Year
2 Chronicles 29:1-36
Quote for Reflection:
So God gave them over to an unfit mind, to do things that are unfit. Why? Because it must become manifest that he who does not think God fit to keep in mind must run to destruction.
What shall we do? Nothing. Not if we want to reform the world.
What shall we do? We shall conclude that it is hopeless. It is the wrath of God that is at the bottom of it all. It is the wrath of God that is at the bottom even of war, of the present confusion of the world, and of the depression.
What shall we do? Shall we call a prayer day? This is folly. Away with all that is of man! From the point of view of man, it is hopeless. Why? Because it is the wrath of God that takes hold of man and pulls him down into hell. Let us confess that it is hopeless.
What shall we do? We shall say: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation." For what do we need? We need righteousness; we need holiness; we need a power to snatch us away from the wrath of God. The gospel is a revelation of the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Christ Jesus.
This gospel is a power. It is not an offer. But it is a power. It is a power taking man out of the power of sin and lifting him up into the glory of everlasting life.
Hopeless, from the point of view of man, and of the world!
Full of hope in the cross of Calvary!
The righteous shall live by faith. – Righteous by Faith Alone by Herman Hoeksema [pg. 45]