Articles, Prisoners of hope

Prisoners of hope

© Karien le Roux (used with permission)
A few weeks ago, we had a face to face weekend in Struisbaai, as I was sharing on Zech 9 I had one of those moments where I could hear myself say things that I have never said before.  This prompted a new journey of discovery and many a late-night discussion with my friend Annelie, sharing revelation as it was dawning on us.  However, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit that this was a word for the wider body of Christ and therefore I share it with you.  Two weeks ago I posted this on facebook and on the Alive2Shine @Work blog that I use for our Monday devotions at work.  I could not even imagine how relevant this word would become just one week later when our president declared a state of disaster in our country.  I share this with you as I believe it’s a very timeous message for the day and age we live in.  Monday I started with a series of messages for our Monday devotions called “People of hope”, the first being Hagar.  Should you want to follow this you can find it here:
Zech 9 starts off with the Word of the Lord for several nations, but the one who caught my attention is Tyre, in vs 3 it says:
3 And Tyre has built herself a stronghold [on an island a half mile from the shore, which seems impregnable], and heaped up silver like dust and fine gold like the mire of the streets.
4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out and dispossess her; He will smite her power in the sea and into it and [Tyre] shall be devoured by fire.
The word stronghold caught my attention, usually we associate it with the enemy that has entrenched itself in some way and indeed in this verse it once again refers to the city building itself a stronghold to guard her treasures.  It’s a stronghold build out of fear and out of a need to self-protect earthy treasures.  Do we not do exactly that when we fear or when we are hurt or disappointed?  We build a stronghold around ourselves to protect what we perceive as valuable and sometimes our so-called treasures are our vulnerabilities, disappointments, hopelessness and hurts.  We create what we think is a safe space for ourselves on an island, separated and isolated from mainland.   However, in vs 4 the Lord tells us how He deals with these self-made strongholds of ours.
4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out and dispossess her; He will smite her power in the sea and into it and [Tyre] shall be devoured by fire.
In His grace He does not allow us to entrench ourselves, shield ourselves thinking we can and should guard our own cities and treasures.
But then our Father present us with a precious display of His character in vs 8-12.
8 Then I will encamp about My house as a guard or a garrison so that none shall march back and forth, and no oppressor or demanding collector shall again overrun them, for now My eyes are upon them.
The picture He gives us is one of Himself encamping around His house.  He guards it, He is a garrison around His house, and HE will not allow any unwelcome guests march back and forth, and no oppressor or demanding collector to overrun us!  He promises to keep His eyes upon us, He watches over us.
10 And I will cut off and exterminate the war chariot from Ephraim and the [war] horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off; and He shall speak the word and peace shall come to the nations, and His dominion shall be from the [Mediterranean] Sea to [any other] sea, and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth!
Not only does He protect.  He goes further than that.  He fights against the enemy for us – on our Behalf.  He says He will cut off and exterminate the war horse and chariot that comes against us and cut off the battle bow.  He shall speak the word and peace shall come to us and our nation and He will reign in His Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of and for the sake of the [covenant of the Lord with His people, which was sealed with sprinkled] covenant blood, I have released and sent forth your imprisoned people out of the waterless pit.
One would think all this to be enough, but Father has even more for us. He makes sure that you and I hear, yes really hear that these promises are not only for Israel or the Old Testament people.  He starts the next sentence with “For you also.”  You see we so often read through the Old Testament and think that God’s promises have been for a people long gone or it meant for a nation other than ours, meant for Israel, or maybe it’s meant for my neighbour.  But God wants you to know that it is for “you also”.
He then proceeds to tell us why He does it all.  Because of His Covenant!  When God made covenant with us, He knew that we would not be able to enter a promise of any sort with Him because we would break those promises on day one.  That does not change God’s character though – He does all this for us because of the covenant He decided to cut with us although He knew we would be unfaithful to that covenant.  He honours that covenant although we have broken that covenant numerous times. He sets us free and bring us out of the waterless pit.  He brings us out of the dry places that we are imprisoned in and releases us from there – for the sake of His covenant with us.   He is a covenant-keeping God.  He keeps His Word no matter what.
12 Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.
Then comes an amazing invitation – He invites us with open arms to return to HIS STRONGHOLD.  Our Father is a stronghold of security and safety for us! There is a righteous stronghold, not one that we build on our own for our own self preserving purposes, not the enemy’s prison, but a stronghold of God, in God, where we are prisoners of hope.  If we dwell on this for a moment, what does it mean to be a prisoner of hope?  Well it certainly means that we cannot be without hope, that we cannot do anything else but hope.  It’s a place where hopelessness does not exist.  It’s a hope in things not seen, it’s an eternal hope that never ceases.  Its hope against all odds, in all circumstances irrespective of what life looks like in the natural.  Its hope beyond our natural abilities.  Inside this stronghold hope is alive, it’s safe, it is precious, joyful, rejoicing!  Inside Father’s Stronghold He promises to restore to us double our former prosperity.  I can imagine that prosperity can take on many forms but today I want to focus on hope.  What does it look like when God restores to us double our former hope?  When He prospers our hope, we have in Him?  Imagine God multiplying, doubling our hope?
What a promise. Come, let us return to God’s stronghold for us.  Let us be prisoners of the hope we have in Him!
I want to challenge you to really make this scripture yours – put your name in there, speak, pray it over yourself and your family.  Apply it to your own heart and life.  Become a prisoner of hope in a time where the world looks around in fear and uncertainty – let us not immerse ourselves in that hopelessness but let us return to His stronghold of safety and security and immerse ourselves in His presence and in His hope!
Much love to all
Gerda and Annelie
Scripture Quoted from the Amplified Bible;