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Previous Editorial:       "Hope Deferred"

The Tree of Life

More on "Hope"

Full Assurance Of Hope
by Harry Ironside

A Right to the Tree of Life
by Robert M. M'Cheyne

The Hope of His Calling
by Arthur W. Pink

Read previous Editorials

  "Hope Deferred"

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."   Proverbs 13:12

Of all the Christian virtues, hope is in the top three. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corinthians 13:13). So great a virtue is hope, that without it Paul says, "we are of all men most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Solomon wrote this proverb after years of living without want. Here is a man who had it all, yet ends his life by saying, "all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 12:8). The great king realized after a life time of pursing the good life, that everything outside of God is indeed vanity. The only life worth living is a life surrendered unto God, whose end is a tree of life.

Wonderful thing about God's Word, it's filled with hope! An interesting word is used by Solomon in our verse, the Hebrew word "deferred". In the Strong's Concordance #4900, is mashak, which means to prolong, delay, or forbear. Interestingly though, it also means to draw out, or to develop.

Did you catch that! Hope is deferred in order to develop our character and to draw out our expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11) Most of us have experienced this heart sickness from a hope deferred. But God's intent is for our good, "...all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

God's ways are far above ours, but His purpose is clear, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:17-20)  Put your Hope in that, and when it comes, is a tree of life.

Solomon made it clear that it was his desire that he hoped for, but what exactly is this desire that brings forth life. David his father gave the answer in a psalm. But before we look at the desire, we must understand that there is a cost. David said you must, "Delight thyself also in the LORD...   Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him..."   then, "he shall give thee the desires of thine heart... he shall bring it to pass." (Psalms 37:4-5)

Now here is the desire that brings forth life. David said, "Lord, all my desire is before thee..." (Psalms 38:10)   David emptied himself before God in this verse. Every desire, every dream, every hope is in God alone. This and this only is acceptable before God, this and this only will bring us into the Tree of Life. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life..." (Revelation 22:14)

Our desire is Christ, our hope is glory. The great mystery of God, "Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27) And when He, the desire cometh, He will be that eternal Tree of Life.

by Randy Munter

John Gill in his Exposition of the Bible writes, "It may be applied to eternal glory and happiness; this is the object of hope in the present state; it is sometimes impatiently expected and desired, and the language of the soul is, "Why is his chariot so long in coming?", "come, Lord Jesus, come quickly", Judges 5:28; and when this desired happiness is enjoyed, how sweet will it be! and the sweeter for having been so much longed and wished for; and when the saints will be in the paradise of God, and eat of the tree of life in the midst of it, and never hunger more." (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

The Pulpit Commentary has this to say.

I.   The Hope That Is Deferred.
Most men who live to any purpose live by hope. It is scarcely possible to press forward with energy to a future that is wholly dark. The prospect of some future good is a present inspiration. Thus hope takes a large place in the heart of man. Note some of its forms.
    1. The hope of youth. It is natural for youth to believe in the future, to treat its possibilities as certainties, and to colour its grey outline with the gorgeous hues of a fresh imagination.
    2. The hope of this world. Pursuits of business or pleasure allure those who enter them with good promises.
    3. The hope of heaven. They who have been disappointed in all earthly anticipations may cherish this glorious dream.
    4. The hope that is unselfish. Hope need not be centred in personal pleasure. We may hope for a great cause, and hope to see some good effected, though by the sacrifice of ourselves.
    5. The hope that is in God. A sorrowful soul may hope in God with no distinct visions of any possible future advantage, making God himself the Hope. "Christ our Hope."

II.   How The Hope Is Deferred.
    1. By disillusion. From the first the hope may be too sanguine. The mirage is mistaken for the oasis. Or perhaps distance is misjudged. We think that we are near to the future that still lies in the remote distance with leagues of desert between us and it. Experience must dispel such an illusion.
    2. By direct disappointment. The well founded hope may be deferred by a change of circumstances, or failure of ability to accomplish it, unfaithfulness to a promise, etc. Thus in life the expected "good time coming" is continually receding as men approach it. Hope may be deferred by trying changes of circumstances, or by a man's own mistakes and failures.

III.   Way The Heart Is Made Bitter.
    To be lifted up and dropped down gives a shock which is not felt if we remain on the low ground. Disappointment is a source of keen pain in any case; but when it is repeated after vague anticipations and uncertainties, it is far more distressing. The hope deferred is not denied. We cannot banish it as a mistake. Such an act would be easier to bear; there would be first a great shock of disappointment, and then the dead hope would be buried out of sight, and the grief of the loss of it would grow lighter with time. But when the hope is deferred, it is continually present, yet as a disappointment.
    The mind is first on the rack of wondering expectation, and then there follows a sense of unutterable weariness - true heart-sickness. It is said that seasickness is produced by the sinking from beneath a person of the support on which he rests. The heart-sickness of a hope long deferred arises from a similar cause in the experience of souls.

IV.   How This Bitterness May Be Cured.
    1. By the satisfaction of the hope. Long deferred, it may yet come. When we are most despairing the tide may turn. The heart-sick mother is startled with a sudden joy in the return of her long lost sailor lad when she is relinquishing the weary hope of ever seeing him again.
    2. By the rising of a new hope. If this may not be found in earthly experience, and the very mention of it sounds like treason to the faithful soul, it may indeed appear in higher regions of life. In the bitterness of earthly disappointment Christ's great hope may be received.
    3. By trusting in God. "Oh rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." The earthly hope may be deferred, disappointed, shattered; yet some soul-satisfying answer will be given to the prayer of faith.

— From The Pulpit Commentary

Hope Deferred
By Robert Hawker   (1753-1827)

"Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12

Surely, my Lord and Saviour is the sum and substance of this sweet verse! For art thou not the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof? And if thou deferrest giving to my soul renewed views of thy pardoning love, or withholdest the renewed visits and manifestations of thy grace, will not my soul languish and my whole heart be sick?

Can I, dear Lord, continue for a moment in health of soul without thee? And art thou not my desire, when thou art the desire of all nations? And when thou comest to my soul in all thy freeness, fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, art thou not the very tree of life in the paradise of God? Precious, precious Jesus! give me to sit down under thy shadow with great delight, for surely thy fruit is sweet to my taste.

Do not defer thy blessed visit to my soul this morning, for thou knowest, Lord, that though, through thy grace, that sickness of sin which is unto death, thou hast already cured by the application of thy blood and righteousness; yet there is a sickness not unto death, and which my soul will pine and languish under, unless thou renewest me from day to day.

Oh, blessed Jesus, I want every moment fresh manifestations, renewed discoveries of thy presence, grace, and favour. I want to know thee more, to love thee more, to live to thee more; and the deferring these precious mercies maketh my heart sick. Come then, thou blessed Lord, with all thy fulness; my desires are to thee, and to the remembrance of thy name.

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; and now, with the first dawn of day, would I seek thee early. And surely, when thou comest, as I know thou wilt come, thou wilt be in deed and in truth the tree of life.

Methinks my soul is now opened by thee for thy reception; and therefore, Lord, do thou now make such rich discoveries of thy person, glory, grace, and love, as may fill every portion of my heart; nay, Lord, I pray to feel such goings forth of my poor soul, in waiting for thy coming, that, like the queen of Sheba, overpowered in the view of the riches and wisdom of Solomon, my views of thy condescending grace, and a sense of my unworthiness to be so blessed of my God, may melt my whole soul before thee; and, like her, there may be no more spirit in me from such ravishing enjoyments of thy presence.

The Hope Laid Up in Heaven
By Charles H. Spurgeon

"For the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, of which you heard before in the Word of the Truth of the Gospel."
Colossians 1:5

THREE Divine Graces should be always conspicuous in Christians faith, love and hope. They are each mentioned by Paul in the opening verses of the Epistle from which our text is taken. These lovely Graces should be so conspicuous in every Believer as to be spoken of and, consequently, heard of even by those who have never seen us. These flowers should yield so sweet a perfume that their fragrance may be perceived by those who have never gazed upon them. So was it with the saints at Colosse. Paul says, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven."

May our characters be such as can be reported of without causing us to blush but that can never be the case if these essential virtues are absent. If these things are in us and abound, we shall not be barren or unfruitful. But if they are lacking, we are as withered branches. We should, therefore, be rich in faith, which is the root of every Grace and, to this end, we should daily pray, "Lord, increase our faith." We should strive to be full even to overflowing with love, which is of God and makes us like unto God. And we should also abound in hope, even that heavenly hope which causes a man to purify himself in readiness for the inheritance above. See to it that neither of these three Divine Sisters are strangers to your souls, but let Faith, Hope and Love take up their abode in your hearts!

Note, however, the special character of each of these Graces as it exists in the Christian. It is not every faith and love and hope that will serve our turn, for of all precious things there are counterfeits! There is a kind of faith in all men, but ours is faith in Christ Jesus, faith in Him whom the world rejects, whose Cross is a stumbling block and whose doctrine is an offense. We have faith in the Man of Nazareth who is also the Son of God. We have faith in Him who, having made atonement by His own blood once and for all, is now exalted at His Father's right hand. Our confidence is not placed in ourselves, nor in any human priest nor in the traditions of our fathers, nor in the teachings of human wisdom, but ONLY in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of God's elect.

The love of Christians, too, is also special, for while a Christian man is moved by universal benevolence and desires to do good unto all men, yet he has a special love unto all the saints and these the world loves not because it loves not their Lord. The true Believer loves the persecuted, the misrepresented and despised people of God for Christ's sake. He loves them all, even though he may think some of them to be mistaken in minor matters. He has love to the babies in Grace as well as to the grown saints and love even to those saints whose infirmities are more manifest than their virtues! He loves them not for their station, or for their natural amiability, but because Jesus loves them and because they love Jesus.

You see the faith is in Christ Jesus, but the love extends beyond Christ, Himself, to all those who are in union with Him. Hope takes a still wider sweep and includes the eternal future in its circuit. Thus do our Graces increase in range as well as in number. Our hope, too, upon which we are to speak this morning, is special, because it is a hope which is laid up for us in Heaven. It is a hope, therefore, which the worldling cares not one whit about! He hopes that tomorrow may be as this day and yet more abundant, but he cares nothing for the land where time has ceased to flow. He hopes for riches or he hopes for fame he hopes for long life and prosperity he hopes for pleasure and domestic peace. The whole range of his hope is within the compass of his eyes!

But our hope has passed beyond the sphere of sight, according to the word of the Apostle, "What a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we see not, then do we, with patience, wait for it." Ours is a hope which demands nothing of time or earth, but seeks its all in the world to come! It is of this hope that we are about to speak. May the Holy Spirit lead us into a profitable meditation upon it. The connection of our text seems to be this the Apostle so much rejoiced when he saw the saints at Colosse possessing faith, love and hope, that he thanked God and prayed about them. He saw these seals of God upon them these three tokens that they were a really converted people and his heart was glad!

All the faithful ministers of Christ rejoice to see their people adorned with the jewels of faith, love and hope, for these are their ornaments for the present and their preparation for the future. This I believe to be the connection, but yet from the form of the language it is clear that the Apostle intended to state that their love to the saints was very much produced in them by the hope which was laid up in Heaven. You notice the word, "for," which stands there "The love which you have to all the saints for," or on account of, or because of, "the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven."


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