Zechariah 9: 9 - 13
A ‘Prisoner of Hope’
It’s amazing how often you can read the Bible and still come across words and phrases that trigger off new ideas and patterns of thought. In this passage, God is calling His people to rejoice over the fact that their King is coming. He is not yet here, but certainly on the way. A righteous King who will speak peace to the nations (Isaiah 9: 5).
He is referring to an event and a Person with whom we are now very familiar from where we stand in time. He is talking about Jesus. He reminds us that one day Jesus will rule the whole earth (Psalm 72: 8 - 11 and Philippians 2: 10 - 11). As He goes on talking to them, God refers to His hearers as ‘prisoners of hope’ (v12).
From the world’s point of view the situation the Jews faced at that time was pretty hopeless. They were an impoverished people recently returned from a long exile in captivity and yet God calls them ‘prisoners of hope’. Hopeless and helpless from the world’s point of view but ‘prisoners of hope’ from God’s perspective. They are bound to a sure and certain promise that God has given them. It will come to pass.
Do you remember what Jeremiah had said some years previously? (Jeremiah 29: 11). He had quoted God as saying ‘I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future’.
One could also say the disciples faced a pretty hopeless situation immediately after the crucifixion. All their hopes of being part of a victorious kingdom had been dashed. But Jesus’ resurrection appearances changed all that. He brought hope to the hopeless and turned their world upside down and right side up.
The Biblical meaning of the word ‘hope’ is ‘a confident and eager expectation of something good’. No wonder that Paul prays so earnestly for the Ephesian church that the ‘eyes of [their] heart might be enlightened in order that [they] may know the HOPE to which He has called [them]’ (Ephesians 1: 18).
Are things around or within you looking pretty hopeless at present? James calls us to ‘consider it pure joy’ when we face various trials (James 1: 2) and goes on to explain why. Peter calls us to take up a position of praise because even in such situations we need to remember that God, ‘in His great mercy … has given us new birth into a living HOPE’ (I Peter 1: 3, but please see vs3 - 9).
Prayer and Action
Put Paul’s prayers to the Ephesians recorded in chapters 1: 17 - 19 and 3: 16 - 19 into the first person, and pray them today and every day.