We use the word “hope” regularly: “I hope to get a promotion. I hope to buy a house someday. I hope to retire and live by the 18th hole. I hope this movie is worth the ticket. I hope I get a bigger bonus, a smaller waistline, a restful night.”
We “hope” for a lot of things. And when we do we use the word “hope” as a wishful thinking. What is it you are hoping for?
Had you lived as a believer in the first century your hope may have resided in something more certain. The Hebrew writer knows his audience needs something more than wishful thinking. They had already experienced suffering under Claudius. Soon Nero would unleash his fury upon the Christians.
That kind of opposition and persecution could cause a person to drift away from the faith. And so he writes at the beginning of his treatise “…we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
The phrase “pay much closer attention” can mean “to bring a ship to land.” I’m not very nautical, but I have brought a boat back into dock a couple of times. When you do you’d better not be looking off at the sunset or at the bird flying overhead. You work on your speed and your approach so that you can bring the boat to gently touch the place you are docking. In the first century it may have been to just bring the boat to land.
That’s what he means. Don’t just glance at the teaching about Christ reigning now and forever. It needs to be something you pay much attention to. Why? “…less we drift away from it.” That phrase means “to glide by.” Again, the captain of a ship that is not paying attention may just glide by the place he is to dock. It happens slowly. Maybe imperceptibly. But it happens. The writer knows the possibility of drifting exists, especially in times of stress and persecution.
To help them avoid drifting he gives them an anchor. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope …” He’s referring to the promise made by God. His promises are sure and certain. And the promise he is talking about involves our hope, a hope that will encourage us—give us courage—in hard times.
If you were a first century Christian and you were hiding in the catacombs talking with others about how some of your best friends had been thrown to the lions or burned at the stake or maybe crucified and set on fire as Nero did at one of his garden parties, you would need something to encourage you. You knew the cross and its reality. What you needed was an anchor. An anchor reminds you of Jesus and a sure hope.
Life happens. And when it does it can be shaken. Too much shaking can cause us to drift from the teaching of Christ. But we can cope with today holding onto a hope for tomorrow.
Things might get tough. The waters may become rough. Anchor deep in Christ now so you won’t drift then.
Question: Are you experiencing some “rough waters”? How will you anchor deep?