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Pastoral 2012

Hope To The End

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In his first epistle, the apostle Peter exhorted the believers to “hope to the end”. He wrote, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Here, Peter mentions three duties of every true Christian. It is interesting to note that in the Greek text, only the last verb is an imperative or command; the first two verbs are participles. In other words, the first two verbal expressions explain to us how we can keep our hope in focus.

The first command is “gird up the loins of your mind”. To understand the expression “gird up the loins”, we must bring our thoughts back to the time and place of Peter. In those days, people wore long robes which often hinder free and fast movement. Whenever they needed to move quickly, they would gather up their robes and tuck them under a belt. This action of girding up the cloth around the loins is often used to represent one’s preparedness for action. The people of Israel were told to eat the first Passover “with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover” (Exodus 12:11). So when Peter told his readers to “gird up the loins of your mind”, he was telling them to be mentally prepared. Our minds must diligently study the prophecies of Christ’s second coming and enthusiastically await this event. We cannot let our minds wander into the things of the world and conveniently forget the promise of His return.

The second command “be sober” gives us further understanding of what it takes to hope for Christ’s return. The Greek word translated as “be sober” carries the idea of alertness or vigilance against dangers. Hope involves not only mental preparedness but also spiritual alertness against the snares of the devil which may keep us trapped in sin at Christ’s coming. We must keep a wakeful spirit amid all the narcotizing conditions around us. The apostle Paul also calls us to be sober as we hope for Christ’s return - “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).

Finally, the command “hope to the end” is a call to all Christians to exercise hope perfectly. The words “to the end” come from the Greek word telios which means “perfect”. We must set our hope fully on the return of our Lord. We look forward in steadfast hope for God’s grace towards us to be fully realised at the revelation of Jesus Christ on the last day. Then His grace shall accept us to our eternal home while the great wrath of God’s judgment will cast the unbelievers into eternal hell. This grace is already present in us from the day we received Christ into our hearts. When our hope is fully set on the final appearance of His return, we will continually receive a greater portion of His grace in our trial-filled journey that we may complete our pilgrimage and receive the final gift of God’s grace – our glory.

 

Pastoral Exhortation