What is the origin of hope? This was a question I asked my children during family worship this past week as we were reading through the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. As we began discussing Genesis 3:15, I suggested that it was here that hope was first born. The justification for this argument was a pretty simple one. Before the Fall, there was no need to hope. God provided Adam and Eve a garden, which met every physical need they had. Furthermore, the world was without sin, so they were experiencing unbroken fellowship with God which met every spiritual need they had. It couldn’t get any better for them.
Yet, with the introduction of the first sin, things changed drastically. They came face-to-face with the consequences of their sin, and death entered the world. With the advent of sin and death came the need for hope. God offers hope in Genesis 3:15 when He says to the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike His heel.” This passage is referred to as the Protoevangelium or the “First Gospel.” Here, we see that in the midst of their sin, God offers hope to the first man and woman. For those of the Christian faith, we know this hope is to be found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Christ.
In the days that followed, I continued to reflect on the origin of hope and, as I did, I became less sure about my previous declaration. I finally concluded that I had missed the mark. My perspective of hope was too small. In his letter to the Roman church, Paul gives a more complete view of hope. Paul writes this,
“‘There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.’
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)
In this short passage, Paul does not limit his use of hope to speak only of an eager expectation that something will come to pass but also speaks to the source, object, and power of our hope. He says, “Now may the God of hope…” Paul reveals that the source of our hope is God, the everlasting, unchanging God who was the God of hope before the world began and will continue to be the God of hope for eternity. The object of hope is the Root of Jesse, “in Him shall the Gentiles hope.” We receive hope from God, and we are to place that hope in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. However, making Jesus the object of our hope is not so easy for fallen, sinful man. For this reason, God sent a helper “so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” God the Father appointed hope to fill us, God the Son died to accomplish hope in us, and God the Holy Spirit works in us to apply our hope in Christ.
While in Genesis 3:15 man may have first come to the realization that there is hope, the source, object, and power of our hope has always existed. Because of this biblical truth, we only have more reason to abound in our hope, just like Paul and just the church in Rome.
This article was contributed by Joshua Johnston.