The Power of Hope
“We were saved in this hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it?”—Rom. 8:24, NW.
1. To whom goes the credit for hope, and how is that hope a power?
HOPE could never exist in the universe without Jehovah, the great Source of everlasting life, “the God who gives hope.” (Rom. 15:13, NW) In the darkest hour of mankind’s history, when Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, bringing sin and death to their offspring, Jehovah saw the need of a hope and in his loving-kindness provided it. That sublime hope, first disclosed almost 6,000 years ago, is filled today with dynamic and protecting power for those loving and searching after righteousness. Its power, activated by an understanding of God’s written Word, impels a Christian to godly action, sustains him when under trial and directs him safely along the narrow path that leads to never-ending life in Jehovah’s new world.
2. Why does the world’s outlook appear so hopeless?
2 But why does the world’s outlook appear so desperately hopeless today if Jehovah has given mankind a valid hope? Because a wicked one, Satan the Devil, has blinded the great mass of humanity to the true hope. This crafty one has devised counterfeit hopes, foisting them upon the peoples of all the earth. Cunningly, the Devil has deluded the nations by transforming himself into “an angel of light” so that now “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (2 Cor. 11:14; 1 John 5:19, NW; 2 Cor. 4:4) The result? A world full of people entertaining barren, famished and hazy hopes. Ask the average person what his hope is. The answer almost invariably will reveal uncertainty or a hope that is vague. There are persons who will admit that their hope is in acquiring money, but they are not possessors of the hope Jehovah gives, because such ones are criminals in the eyes of the supreme Judge: “If I have made gold my trust, or called fine gold my confidence; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, or because my hand had gotten much; this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I should have been false to God above.”—Job 31:24, 25, 28, RS.
3. Explain why it is not safe to pin our hope on organizations of men, and why the nations lack “joy and peace.”
3 Those who pin their hope on the promises of men or even on an organization of nations cannot with assurance say, “we were saved in this hope.” Indeed, how could they have a saving hope? For man’s lofty promises for a safe world of tomorrow have failed miserably. And by ignoring the hope that Jehovah has given, the people have made the object of their trust a spider’s house: if they lean upon it, it will not stand. How could even an organization of the brainiest men be the sponsors of a saving hope when “surely every man at his best estate is altogether vanity”? (Ps. 39:5, AS; Job 8:14, 15) Thus the best house or organization that man could build would be, as a foundation for a saving hope, only a spider’s house. “And thou dost wipe out his desire like a cobweb. Verily, all men are but a breath.” (Ps. 39:11, AT) Though the clergy have extolled President Eisenhower as “the architect of a new hope,” as he was called at his inauguration, and though the clergy, together with the politicians, have extolled the United Nations as man’s only hope, the bleak fact remains that the nations are not filled with “all joy and peace.” And why? Because they do not know the “God who gives hope.” Hear the words of Christ Jesus: “Righteous Father, the world has, indeed, not come to know you.” (John 17:25, NW) Not having come to know Jehovah, the only Source of genuine hope, the world’s hopes, based on riches and promises of men, fade and wither.
4, 5. (a) When men condemn God for the world’s corrupt state, what is wrong? (b) In what manner did Jehovah subject creation to futility “on the basis of hope”?
4 Jehovah’s promise of an enduring new world of righteousness will never wither. (Deut. 7:9; Isa. 66:22) This is an uplifting, liberating hope in spite of the fact that to this very hour “in Adam all are dying.” (1 Cor. 15:22, NW) How a liberating hope? Because a new world means “that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption.” (Rom. 8:21, NW) Men often sweepingly condemn God for the present world’s enslavement to corruption. The trouble is that they do not examine the Scriptures to get the proper perspective. It was only because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness that Adam and Eve, before their death sentence was carried out, were allowed to have children. Otherwise we would not be here today! But the human creation, as a result of Adam’s sin, was born into imperfection and death. (Rom. 5:12) Of course, we did not wish it that way, but the human creation had no choice in the matter. This the apostle explains at Romans 8:20 (NW): “The creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope.” This does not mean that, in hope that he could do something for them, Almighty God subjected the human creation to futility. No! God never hopes! He knows! “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18) Jehovah’s perfect knowledge of his works allows no room for hope.
5 But, then, how did Jehovah subject mankind to futility “on the basis of hope”? By saying what he did in the garden of Eden just before he sentenced Adam and Eve to death. As Judge, Jehovah God addressed himself to the unfaithful covering cherub, the spirit creature that became known as Satan the Devil: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:15, NW) Here was summed up the supreme hope for all mankind! A promise from the Most High God that the fiendish introducer of wickedness, the “one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil,” would be crushed out of existence by a deliverer. (Heb. 2:14, NW) Here was the promise of a new world wherein the human creation would be delivered from the futile bondage of corruption into glorious freedom and life!—Isa. 65:17.
6. For what reasons did Jehovah send his beloved Son to the earth?
6 When the beloved Son of God came to earth, the One chosen by Jehovah to be that great Deliverer, it became clear that the hope of a new world meant not only the bruising of the serpent but also that obedient mankind could be “saved in this hope” for everlasting life. Said Jesus: “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.” (John 10:10, NW) It was for the perfect new world that God gave his only-begotten Son and allowed him to die on the torture stake. (John 3:16) When the resurrected Christ Jesus presented the merit of his ransom sacrifice to his Father in heaven, it being accepted by Jehovah, the foundation was laid for the new world. Today those who place their wholehearted trust in the saving hope of Jehovah’s new heavens and new earth are a New World society. Their hope, based on the promise of God, who cannot lie, is a source of sustaining, impelling power in their lives. Let us now see why hope is a power.
HOPE’S POWER ANALYZED
7. Define hope. How is it more powerful than mere desire?
7 Hope is defined by Webster’s unabridged New International Dictionary as “desire accompanied with expectation of obtaining what is desired.” Hope is thus comprised of two elements: (1) a desire and (2) a feeling that the desire will be realized or fulfilled. Hence one may have keen desire but lack hope. For desire accompanied by the background realization that there is little or no possibility of ever having that desire fulfilled is not hope. True, desire may attract, but hope does much more: hope impels, hope pushes one, hope urges to effort.
8. Why must there be grounds for hope?
8 To believe in things we hope for there must be firm and irremovable grounds, a basis or foundation for confidence and reliance. Why so? Because what we hope for we do not see. “Hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it?” (Rom. 8:24, NW) Here the word “see” conveys the thought of having one’s hope fulfilled, for then one’s eyes will behold realization. At Job 7:7 we read: “Mine eye shall no more see good,” the marginal reference adding “to see, that is, to enjoy.”
9, 10. (a) Does hope’s power always lead to success? Explain. (b) Why was the covering cherub’s hope certain to lead to disappointment?
9 Since hope is that which we do not see, it can lead to success or failure, depending upon what we have based that hope on. To show that hope’s actuating power does not always lead to success we shall take the example of the covering cherub who turned himself into Satan the Devil. This mighty spirit creature surrendered himself to a life-ruling ambition. That ambition became his hope, because he believed there was a possibility of succeeding. It was really hope’s power that moved the covering cherub into carrying out his ambitious plan of action. He rebelled against Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, turned traitor and then subtly induced Eve also to become a renegade.
10 But that satanic mastermind who perpetrated rebellion and who engineered a breakaway from Jehovah’s holy organization will never realize his fondest hope, that of making himself like the Most High. For there was something wrong with his hope. First, it was made up of a criminal desire; second, the feeling that the desire would be realized was inspired by a blinding pride that corrupted the cherub’s wisdom. (Ezek. 28:17; 1 Tim. 3:6) Such a pride-inspired hope could lead only to disaster. (Prov. 16:18) Already Satan has been tumbled from the heavenly heights down to the earth together with his pawns, the demons. Soon now that invisible ruler of this world will be checkmated at Armageddon, when the King Christ Jesus hurls him into the abyss of deathlike inactivity. (John 12:31; 14:30; Rev. 12:7-9, 12; 20:1-3) The case of the covering cherub illustrates how hope, without a sound basis, can never lead to success and how powerful a desire for something together with the feeling of obtaining it really is.
EVE’S HOPE, WHY DEFECTIVE?
11. Did hope’s power push Eve on to eat of the forbidden tree? How do we know?
11 Through the serpent Satan invited Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, tantalizing her with this desire: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen. 3:4, 5, NW) Did Eve actually believe in this promise of godlike wisdom to the extent that she had hope? Yes, Eve had all the elements that go to make up hope: she had the desire for added wisdom and she wholeheartedly expected to obtain it. So her desire had become fertile; it had led to hope and its power pushed Eve on, not to success, but to disaster. (Jas. 1:14, 15) That Eve had fertilized her desire to produce sin with the expectation of obtaining wisdom is evident from the Scriptures: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14, NW) Eve herself admitted that she had implicitly believed the serpent: “The serpent deceived me and so I ate.”—Gen. 3:13, NW.
12. Why was Eve’s hope defective?
12 Why did Eve’s hope lead to her death? Because her hope had no sound foundation; if she sinned she could hope to gain the thing desired. Sin was the grounds for hope. Eve had no basis for believing that sin could produce what the serpent promised. There was no evidence of any kind to prove that the serpent was reliable and trustworthy. How could there be? The serpent’s statement directly contradicted Eve’s Creator, who had declared: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:17, NW) The serpent had not proved Jehovah’s declaration untrue, nor had he established evidence that his own statement was the truth. Therefore Eve had no sound basis for her belief. Her foundation was credulity. And a hope that is based upon credulity merely has the unproved word or opinion of another as to what the future holds. What was the glaring defect, then? This: Eve’s hope was not based on what the Scriptures call “faith.”
13. What is faith’s relationship to hope?
13 “What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.” (Heb. 11:1, Knox) The word here translated “substance” signifies the underlying foundation, that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on. Thus Weymouth’s translation (third edition) defines faith as “a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope.” Now what is “assurance”? Is it conviction, a firm belief? Even more! Under the heading “faith,” Funk and Wagnall’s New Standard Dictionary tells us: “Conviction is a belief established by argument or evidence; assurance is belief beyond the reach of argument.” Surely, then, we can understand the rich meaning of the rendering from the New World Translation: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for.” Eve never had a “well-grounded assurance” or “assured expectation” of that for which she hoped. Thus her hope based on sin ended in death. But though Eve’s hope was defective it still had impelling power. Then how much more powerful must be hope founded on faith!
HOPE COMES TO THE AID
14, 15. (a) Of what is Hebrews chapter eleven an example? (b) What hope did the pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah possess?
14 A hope that is founded on faith has the unimpeachable promise of the everlasting God that the things for which the person hopes are absolutely certain to be realized, if he continues faithful to the end. Such a well-founded hope was what the early witnesses of Jehovah had. In Hebrews, chapter eleven, the apostle writes of their hope. But is this not a chapter illustrating faith? True, but it is also an example of hope, hope founded on faith! These pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah looked forward to the new world. Of Abraham the Bible says: “He was awaiting the city having real foundations and the builder and creator of which is God.” (Heb. 11:10, NW) This does not mean that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob looked forward to a heavenly hope, but rather that they hoped for a resurrection to life on earth under the rule of the new heavens. Thus Paul writes of their hope:
15 “In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and hailed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. . . . now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven.” (Heb. 11:13, 16, NW) Moses was one of these who knew his hope was not to go to heaven but to live on earth during the heavenly rule of Christ the King. Possessing such a hope, Moses cultivated a forward-looking mind. Hope could now buoy him up under tribulation. Indeed, Moses chose “to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:25, 26, NW) Moses had every reason to look “intently toward” an earth filled with Jehovah’s glory. For it was the Almighty God himself who, with an oath upon his very existence, promised Moses: “As I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of Jehovah.” (Num. 14:21, NW) Moses never forgot such a promise. Like Sarah, Moses “esteemed him faithful who had promised.”—Heb. 11:11, NW; Hab. 2:14.
16. Show how hope was a power in their lives.
16 Because the “so great a cloud of witnesses” had a confident hope they publicly declared that they were no part of the world. This brought them persecution, sometimes torture. Did their integrity break under torture? No! Hope came to the rescue; it succored them: “Other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (Heb. 12:1; 11:35, NW) What sustaining power springs from hope properly founded!
POWER OF RESURRECTION HOPE
17. Why did they “not get the fulfillment of the promise”?
17 Clearly, an integral part of the hope of those early witnesses was the resurrection. They turned their backs on the old world and looked forward to a resurrection to life on earth under the heavenly government with no need of ever dying again. Though they were faithful until the end, they “did not get the fulfillment of the promise.” Why? Because “God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Heb. 11:40, NW) They could not be “made perfect,” the apostle says, apart from the Christian congregation, the bride of Christ, which is limited to just 144,000 faithful overcomers. (Rev. 7:4; 14:1, 3) Not being of the Christian congregation that began with Christ Jesus, that “cloud of witnesses” could not hope in the “first resurrection,” the one to heavenly life and glory. The faithful men of old will, however, have a resurrection of the “righteous” by their being raised from the dead in an early resurrection on earth and they will eventually gain absolute perfection through God’s kingdom by Christ Jesus.—Acts 24:15, NW; Matt. 22:32, 33.
18. (a) What is the “living hope,” and who possess it today? (b) Who else possess a saving hope, and to whom do they owe it?
18 The hope of eternal life in heaven for the faithful Christian congregation of Jesus’ footstep followers is called, by the apostle Peter, a “living hope.” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance.” (1 Pet. 1:3, 4, NW) There is only a small remnant yet on earth of those Christians whose living hope is to reign in heaven with Christ as kings and priests for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:5, 6) At death they will be instantaneously raised to life in the spirit, being “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” (1 Cor. 15:51, 52, NW) But the hope for salvation is also a power in the lives of a “great crowd” of people of good will: “A great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Rev. 7:9, 10, NW) These are the Lord’s “other sheep” who owe their hope of eternal life on a paradise earth to Jehovah and also to the Lamb, Christ Jesus, because “he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”—Heb. 5:9, NW.
19-21. (a) Why is the power of the resurrection hope vitally needed today? (b) How does the world view the integrity of the New World society?
19 How is the resurrection hope such a strong power in the lives of the anointed remnant and their good-will companions? Because no amount of persecution from the Devil’s organization can break their integrity, not even torture or death; the resurrection hope sustains them. And even as the early witnesses from Abel to John the Baptist had kept their integrity through “mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons,” so likewise will the New World society, if such a trial comes upon them. (Heb. 11:36, NW) Indeed, it will. Did not the Master foretell for this day that “people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name”?—Matt. 24:9, NW.
20 During World War II thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses imprisoned in Hitler’s concentration camps would not accept a release by renouncing their faith. To do that would mean the loss of their hope. Nor will those who have the New World hope “accept release by some ransom” though they be imprisoned or tortured by Communist or “Democratic” dictators. And with the attack from the far north by Gog of Magog yet ahead, Jehovah’s witnesses will need the sustaining power of the resurrection hope. “He that finds his soul will lose it, and he that loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39, NW) Not understanding and experiencing the power of hope, the world is often amazed at the unbending integrity of the New World society. This is what one man wrote about Jehovah’s witnesses and expressed amazement:
21 “When I first began to study the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was fortunate enough to secure the fine help of one of the counsels of the American Civil Liberties Union. In introducing me to the investigation he said, in effect: ‘Probably you have never seen anyone who is willing actually to die for his religious convictions. With our sophisticated ways of doing things, and with our mentalities which seem never to deal with absolute certainties, we moderns think that there is nothing for which a man should give his life. But when you meet the Witnesses, you will be meeting, probably for the first time, people who are willing to be persecuted, even slain, for the sake of their religious faith.’ At the time I was not entirely convinced. Now I am.” And why is the world so astonished at the integrity of Jehovah’s witnesses? Why do worldlings have hazy hopes, “mentalities which seem never to deal with absolute certainties”? Because the world has not come to know Jehovah, “the God who gives hope.”
22. (a) Describe the expectation of the remnant and of the “other sheep.” (b) If death should occur before Armageddon, how is hope a power for the survivors?
22 While the anointed remnant expect to serve on earth for a period after Armageddon, as it pleases Jehovah, and while the other sheep expect to serve Jehovah without a break in life clear through to the end of this system of things at Armageddon and on into the unending time of the new world, yet death due to natural causes or due to keeping integrity may occur before Armageddon. For the faithful remnant death means the immediate attainment of their heavenly hope. For the other sheep death means a short sleep until they come forth “to a resurrection of life.” (John 5:29, NW) In either case the power of the resurrection hope dispels sorrow, the hysterical grief so common in the world: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death, that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13, NW) Thus whether by uninterrupted life through the war of Armageddon or by resurrection from death after Armageddon, the “great crowd” of the good-will companions of the spiritual remnant hope steadfastly in the promise that they will reach the perfect image and likeness of God as perfect men.
23. Is hope indispensable? Explain.
23 So hope, rightly founded on faith by obtaining an accurate knowledge of God’s Word and by acquainting oneself with Him and His works, past and present, is a power indeed! It enriches our love for the Life-giver, Jehovah. It holds out comfort in times of distress. It imparts a peace of mind at this time when “men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:26, NW) It urges us to keep integrity. It works for our ultimate salvation. “For we were saved in this hope.” Hope is essential. We cannot get along without it. If we could Paul would have reduced the Christian indispensables to a basic two: faith and love. But no! He found hope also indispensable: “There remain faith, hope, love, these three.” (1 Cor. 13:13, NW) The apostle did not stretch faith so as to make it include the contents of hope. He knew that the test of endurance was yet ahead. And he knew that hope was a mighty power enabling us to endure, keeping “our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen.”—2 Cor. 4:18, NW.