Ezra 10:2: And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.
Hope is a strong word.
The bible says that to him who is joined to the living there is hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4).
There is hope for tree if it is cut down and its root had dried in the ground (Job 14:7-9), if it experiences the scent of water, it will sprout again. It could rebound, regain its lost glory, experience change for the better, and regain what is lost as if nothing bad had ever happened. It will have time reversed, restoration experienced.
The man Mephibosheth is a testament on hope (2Samuel 9; 4:4). He was physically lame. His history was “lame.” He came from the line of King Saul who pursued David the current king with the intent to him, running him to a foreign land. So he could expect no help from David in anyway or for anyone for that matter. People may fear helping him so that they do not be seen to be helping the enemy of the king.
But David made the decision to honour the memory of Jonathan his friend, who died in battle with his father Saul, and Mephibosheth who was Jonathan’s son became a beneficiary of that decision, when he was not expecting it.
He could not do much for himself being lame and was therefore severally disadvantaged by the standards of that time, but the David’s decision did much for him. Eventually, it was discovered that what worked for him is more than what worked against him, especially from God’s point of view.
Why did God choose to put such story in the bible? Maybe to show the generosity of David, a man who thought beyond himself, as an example for others to follow? But it was also a lesson in hope. From the dustbin of history, Mephibosheth became one who ate with the king, from forgotten to recognised.
Hannah said that it is God who lifts up the poor from the dunghill and makes them to sit with princes (1Samuel 2). That described the situation of Mephibosheth.
Remember Mephibosheth did not do anything to better his lot. This shows that hope operates regardless of what you do or not.
Mephibosheth had inheritances that he was deprived of. He must have resigned to his fate, but God ensured that what was rightly his came to him. God, who fights for the widow and fatherless, fought for him in unbelievable ways.
Repentance and hope
In the focus verse, the speaker was saying that no matter how far gone in error the people were, there is still hope. If the people take the path of repentance, they will yet attract the favour of God. The path of repentance always gives hope of a better day. You cannot continue in sin and say that grace should abound.
God does not want any to perish but to come to repentance in Jesus (2Peter 3:9). That is why there is hope even to the point of the last breath but not after, because the bible says that it is appointed for man to once die and thereafter is judgement (Hebrews 9:27). Once the Rubicon of death is crossed, then hope is none existent.
But there are two kinds of judgements. The good and the bad. After Jesus died, he experience the positive judgment which led to his rising from the dead.
Before he died he expressed hope in God saying, “He will not allow his holy one to see corruption, but raise him from the dead (Acts 2:27).” And in him we have the hope of resurrection for those of us who believe in him. Hope here has a stronger meaning than possibility, it is a certainty that one cannot yet determine the time of occurrence.
Faith in Jesus puts us in line for resurrection, and that hope motivates us to live the right way so that when the time of judgment comes we would not be ashamed when we see him face to face (Colossians ), because we had lived worthy of his calling (Colossians 1:9-10).
Hope and change
Hope facilitates change. It helps us to take the steps to change because we hope that change will surely come if we make the necessary effort. You got married in the hope that it will bring a positive change into your life. But when hope is lost, commitment is lost. When there is no hope, we stop making the effort, we stop performing our roles, we quit.
You will not be committed to change without holding firmly to the possibility of the change you seek will be realised, because hope breeds endurance.
When you say: my hope is in God, you are saying that something in your future will be determined by God to make it radically different from the present.
Hope in the word of God (Psalm 119:81)
The word of God paints pictures of divine possibility on the tablet of our heart. Listening to the words of the devil painted a false expectation in the heart of Eve (Genesis 3), which caused her to take the wrong step into darkness. But believing the words of the devil brings error. The devil is a liar and the father of lies. But Jesus is the truth. His is the word of truth.
But hoping in the word of God (that it means what it states, and will do what it says) keeps us on the right track. When God told Abraham he was going to have a child even in his old age, the bible said that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). He set out to believe that what the word says is true even when his circumstances states the contrary.
When Joseph told the people of Israel in Egypt that they should take his bones with them when God visits them, he was speaking hope. As far as he was concerned, he may not know how or when, but the word of God will manifest in reality and he was sure of it.
God has told Abraham that Israel will stay hundreds of years in a foreign land and will come out powerfully and take over the land promised to him. Joseph had his hope in that word and made plans accordingly.
Hope in the steadfast love of God (Psalm 147:11)
God’s love expresses his unending favourable disposition to us. It is in the context of the love that we go about with the hope that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). He told Israel: the thoughts that I have towards you are thoughts of good and not of evil (Jeremiah 29:11).
When the devil convinced Eve that the thought of God for her was not for the best, she stopped hoping in the love of God, stopped seeing God as the God of love. When we lose the right picture of God as the God of love, we lose the right relationship with him. Jesus went to great length to introduce the God of love to us.