By Pastor Mark Banyard
Hebrews 11:1 states: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and this biblical hope is based on the promise of God. So hope is about a promise.
There are two kinds of promises. First of all, there is a timeless promise. A timeless promise is a promise that it’s not time specific. It’s not bound by a moment in time, form, space and matter, which is creation. For instance, it’s something that God says to His people, I will always be with you. I will never forsake you. Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” I will always be with you. It’s a timeless promise.
But the second kind of promise is a time specific promise. It’s the kind of promise when God says, I am going to do this in your life. But it is not going to happen right now. It is going to happen sometime in the future. And on that day and in that moment when that promise is fulfilled, you will know that I am God. A great example of a time specific promise is from Galatians 4:4 where it says “… in the fullness of time God sent His Son, …” – it was something that had been promised.
There are promises that God has made to you and to me that He has already fulfilled, are being fulfilled and are yet to be fulfilled that we are waiting on. And the challenge is in the waiting. And that is what hope is all about. It’s how to sustain, be sustained in the waiting. And if you have a hope that is not filled with the substance of faith then your hope will be like a small tank of petrol that will run out quickly. And you will find the long drive on God’s road waiting for the fulfillment of the promise to be harder than you thought. But faith that is the substance of true biblical hope will sustain us as we wait for the fulfillment. Remember, once the promise is fulfilled you don’t need the hope anymore. Hope is for the waiting.
One of the problems with a promise being fulfilled is that sometimes we don’t recognize it’s fulfilled and then we continue to pray for its fulfillment. And so, we don’t move into the celebration and thanksgiving of a fulfilled promise. The problem with that is that when we are praying for something that’s already been fulfilled, we will continue to pray for something as if it hasn’t been fulfilled. And our prayers become religious. We are actually at that point where we aren’t moving in faith, we are moving in unbelief. Because when a promise has been fulfilled, celebration and thanksgiving is what seals in the fullness of the fulfillment.
What is it that stops us from recognizing a promise that’s been fulfilled? Often what stops us from recognizing a promise that’s been fulfilled is our expectation of how God was going to fulfill it. And so it’s not that we don’t have faith. It’s not that we don’t love God. It’s not that we lack sincerity or genuineness in our relationship with the Lord. But what happens is that our expectation of the fulfillment of the promise stops us from recognizing what God is going to do. If you have studied revival, one of the things that are very common of all revivals, every move, great awakening is that so often the intercessors that have prayed for years for that move of the Spirit didn’t recognize it when it came. You find that surprising? You see, it’s our expectation of how God is going to move that often stops us from recognizing the promise when it’s been fulfilled. And therefore, we don’t move from hope to celebration.
What if your promise is being fulfilled? You go from things that are unseen to things that are seen. You go from needing to hope because you can’t see, to all of a sudden, receiving and declaring and proclaiming because you can see. Do you remember the story of John the Baptist when he was in jail? And he heard what Jesus was doing. And he wasn’t sure any longer. He didn’t expect, his expectation stopped him from understanding his role, confused him about who Jesus was. And so in jail, he said to his disciples, go to Jesus and ask Him this question, are you the one or should we be expecting someone else?
So his disciples went to Jesus and Jesus simply said: Go back to John and tell him what you see and what you hear, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the captives are set free, the dead are raised, the good news is preached. Blessed is the man who does not stumble or turn away on account of me. And so, Jesus was walking in the fulfillment of the promise on earth. It was about the Kingdom of God manifesting. It was no longer about trying or hoping that Messiah would come. But recognizing that He was with them, Emmanuel, God with us, that He was in their midst as God is in this house in our midst today. And not hoping and praying and wishing that God might be with us. But recognizing He is and moving in a declaration that releases authority and power. There is a difference.
And so if we continue to pray for something that is being fulfilled, then we get stuck. We stay in that place of hoping and wishing and maybe and could be and should be, rather than moving in the presence and power of the authority of God in this place. And so, when a promise begins to be fulfilled there is evidence. We begin to see. We begin to hear. And therefore, we don’t need hope to be sure and certain about things that are unseen.
(to be continued)