Life is hard, isn’t it?
For some of us, we are barely making it. Challenges have come at us from all sides and we wonder when it is ever going to end. We don’t feel thankful. We don’t feel content. We don’t feel at peace. We don’t feel known or loved. We don’t feel secure. We don’t feel accepted. We don’t feel much of anything in this dark, waterless pit of an existence. All we do know is that we want it to end. We want to be set free from this hostage situation that has stolen our joy, captured our purpose, and harnessed our hope.
Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming a prisoner.
A prisoner is one who is involuntarily incarcerated for a period of time because of some kind of punishable offense.
A prisoner maybe a hostage taken captive as a result of his faith and conviction – through no other fault of his own.
A prisoner may also be one who is trapped in some kind of long-suffering situation that they never chose for themselves.
The long and the short of it is that a prisoner, hostage, captive, and detainee are people who are being held against their will. Confined to a particular space for a particular length of time, prisoners have no rights, no freedoms, and no liberties – until they have paid their time and are released.
But what if they cannot?
What if they are convicted to a life of imprisonment and certain death – without opportunity of parole?
Who would advocate for them?
Who would rally to their cause?
Who would even care to come to their aid?
These are some of the questions I have been pondering this week, as I meditated upon these words from the book of Zechariah:
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
New International Version, Zechariah 9: 11 – 12
These were prophetic words written to the nation of Israel to declare their deliverance from God’s judgment for their idolatrous ways. They were a defeated, captive nation. After many years of incarceration, the Lord offered His people freedom from their sin and misery.
The Lord called to them to respond.
He lifted them from the dark and discouraging confines of their waterless pit through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ would come to earth and offer Himself in their stead – delivering not only the nation of Israel, but all mankind – from the pits of despair and death.
His blood would be poured out for every people, every tribe, and every nation.
And then Jesus would defeat the power of sin and death through his miraculous resurrection – rising from dark recesses that no man would ever want to descend – to redeem us, restore us and set us free into the covenant relationship with God our Father we were meant to enjoy – as long as we believed.
Would we voluntarily leave the trappings of a comfortable, self-centered, but condemned life to become a prisoner of hope in Christ?
Who is a prisoner of hope?
A prisoner of hope is a people who patiently wait for God’s purposes to be revealed in their lives and in their lives to come. They purposely choose to give up their self-centered construct, their self-made tendencies, and their self-motivated lifestyles and bind themselves to Jesus Christ.
This is not an involuntary decision.
They choose to return to their stronghold, Jesus Christ. It is in the fortress of Jesus Christ that they find security, defense, protection, rest, and care. In this secret, mysterious place, they identify themselves as prisoners of hope. In Zechariah 9:12, hope is the Hebrew transliterated word, tiqvah. Tiqvah is a cord of hope that unites us with Jesus Christ when we place our faith and trust in Him for our lives – come what may.
Life is rough.
There is no doubt.
I believe that is exactly why Zechariah calls the faithful – prisoners of hope.
It’s not easy to endure a difficult, faith-stretching time that seems to have no end. But there is an end – because bound to this difficult time and challenging experience is our Lord Jesus Christ. As He is secured and fastened to us, He is also tied to and very much aware of the situations we face.
Friends, are you able to envision this strong and secure cord of hope that is available to you in Christ?
Do you dare to identify yourself as a prisoner of hope – waiting for the purposes of God to be revealed in your life – even as you endure a difficult, difficult, difficult time?
As I complete my word study of hope in the Old Testament, it is my desire for us to seek the Lord Jesus Christ as our fortress and our defense and believe that His cord of hope is ours. It is a strong, life-giving cord that binds us securely to Him. All that was taken and lost, will be restored to us in God’s good, blessed, redemptive, and perfect time. He calls to us now. Return to Him and wait upon Him.
The choice is ours.
Will we choose to identify ourselves as prisoners of hope?
Image retrieved from Prisoner of Hope Part 7