In his name, the nations will put their hope Matthew 12:21
“Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Saviour, The Hope of Nations” is part of the first verse of Hillsong United’s popular hymn Mighty to Save. The hymn could not speak less of Jesus than declare Him the Hope of the nations as long spoken by the prophet Isaiah in his Christological prophecy;
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope” (Isaiah 42:1-4).
So many years later after Isaiah’s message, Matthew the evangelist first heard Christ tell them about the Lord’s servant as spoken way back by Isaiah and later pointed out that indeed the Lord’s servant, who is the Hope of the Nations is Christ Jesus the Lord.
Nothing temporal is hope worthy
Hope put on anything mortal is a temporary hope, it stands to fade at any time however promising it might appear to be. A lasting hope must be one that is but put on what is immortal, that which cannot fade away, such is a rich and eternal hope only to be found in Christ. Many people have put their hope in things but temporal. I had been putting my hopes in my parents when I was young and so do many people. As I grew up, I realised it was no hope, I realised I needed something much bigger and stronger than my parents. At a later stage, I hoped in education, I knew if I had this diploma or that degree, all will be fine. With two diplomas and an undergraduate degree and now pursuing my graduate degree, I can no longer see the hope which I used to think would be in these academic pursuits.
Many have hoped in enormous wealth for their lives but all is useless, chasing the wind as so said by the wisest and richest king of Israel—king Solomon. He was endowed with all wisdom which brought him the abundance of wealth and fame, but at the end of it all, he saw it was vanity. To the teacher, there is vanity in what otherwise many would see hope in. Everything is meaningless (not hope worthy), wisdom, pleasures, toil and riches, folly etc. are meaningless.
On wisdom, the teacher writes; “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (Eccl. 1:18). On pleasures, he writes;
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired [including the 700 wives and 300 concubines]; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labour, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Eccl. 2:10-11).
Unlike Solomon who had everything at his pleasure in pursuit of hope but finds none, many in the face of adversities even live hopefully. Charles H. Spurgeon once said; “Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” This contrast clearly demonstrates that pleasures are never a surety for hope, they are neither a guarantee of it. As well, not every adversity gives a hopeful destiny to an individual. Adversities are temporal as much as pleasures in wealth, riches and everything pleasurable are.
Neither is hope to be found in the present, for the present is very temporal too. There is but only one object of hope upon whom we shall never hope in vain; he is
Christ, the hope of the nations
Of Hope, RC Sproil says;
Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19), because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.
The soul of man loosely stands unanchored if it doesn’t hope in the object of hope—Christ Jesus. In him everything revolves, in whom are the promises of God, justice and mercy spring from him and in no other. He is the author and finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega in whom all things begin and end. He alone is immortal and hope in him is eternal, it never fades because Jesus the Hope of the Nations “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
To hope in Christ is to put the world and all its perishables behind and Christ before. It is to take God at his word, to patiently wait on Him in his grace revealed to us in Christ. Adam Clarke writes of Christ,
Jesus Christ is the sole hope and trust of mankind; to trust and hope in his name, Jesus, is to expect salvation and all things necessary from him alone, to despise, comparatively, all earthly promises, to esteem, love, and desire heavenly things only, and to bear with patience and tranquillity all the losses and evils of this life, upon the prospect and hope of that felicity which he has purchased for us.
Note Isaiah clearly says “in his name the nations will have their hope.” The name Jesus is no ordinary name. At the genesis of the church, the apostles were not only persecuted because they were followers of Christ, but because they preached the name of Jesus. Several times they have been arrested, jailed, beaten and released on condition that they “no longer speak to anyone in his [Jesus] name” (Acts 4:20). This was not only an attempt to stop the message of Christ but to have his name, the name in whom “all the nations will put their hope” blocked from being heard.
God has purposed hope and Salvation to be found nowhere but in the name Jesus (Acts 4:12). “The great radical idea of operative Christianity is salvation; it is only as this is being realized that its other aspects are of value to man. The name of Jesus was to symbolize the whole of morality in the sum and symmetry of a perfect combination” (J. O Davies).
It therefore is my pleasure to point you to this name, Jesus, who is the hope of the nations. In whom is hope eternal, in whom is salvation. The hope of the nations does not lie in democracy in as much as promising it may be. The hope for the future does not lie in human rights nor a legally well-structured society despite its gross contribution to human flourishing. The hope of the nations doesn’t lie in science and its discoveries no matter the positive things science has built. Political systems, science, health, education, wealth, pleasures and everything you can name if it not be Christ will only provide a temporary hope. Ultimate hope is in Christ, it is the hope that takes us to the throne of God—when God dwells with his people as revealed to John in the small Island of Patmos;
I saw a Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the older order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:2-4).
This is the hope that is more promising than anything else—hope that is affixed in Christ. Hope that believes “anything under God’s control is never out of control” (Chucks Swindoll). I persuade you who has believed in Christ the hope of the nations to unwaveringly fix your eyes on him as you “wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). I also invite you who has never believed in the name Jesus to put your hope in him to rest “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2) and it is this hope that I proclaim to you today. Hope in Christ Jesus, for in his name the nations will put their hope.
Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is currently a candidate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. For pastoral assistance you can email him or check how you can reach him here