Last September we were privileged to visit Rome as we concluded our Mediterranean anniversary trip.
We enjoyed wonderful food, touring the ancient sites and worshiping with the brethren. But among the highlights for us was visiting the Catacombs.
Led by a knowledgeable and interesting tour guide we descended from the warm air above, down a steep stairway and through narrow passageways, where I often had to duck my head, and into the cool and musty burial-place of early Christians and revered martyrs.
The Catacombs also contain some of the earliest artifacts of Christianity. In addition to the colorful fresco paintings in some areas, were symbols etched into the walls. The cross was rarely used. But there were other symbols and words and letters testifying to their faith. Among them was the anchor.
Apparently, the anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. Warren Wiersbe says that “at least sixty-six pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs.” The anchor was a symbol of hope.
The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote: “One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope.” But he was wrong.
The Hebrew writer affirms that Jesus Christ is our “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”(Heb. 6:19). Paul affirmed to Timothy that the “Lord Jesus Christ (is) our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1). He is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Hope is not wishful thinking. Whistling in the dark. Or a wimpy approach to life. It’s not some Pollyanna approach to life.
Hope is based on confident prospects. A happy expectation. A favorable anticipation. Hope is built on a solid foundation of faith that is rooted in the facts of the gospel. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).
The Bible describes this anchor in a way that encourages, fortifies and assures our hope. It is called a “good hope.” A “better hope.” A “blessed hope.” And a “living hope.”
To a dispersed people who the apostle Peter called “pilgrims” and “strangers”, he offered hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
The Christian’s hope is alive. It’s anchored in Jesus’ resurrection. In his victory over sin. Death. And the Devil. Hope in Jesus is “the anchor of the soul.” It’s sure. Secure. And steadfast.
Jesus is my mediator. My High Priest. My Advocate. My Redeemer. In Him, I have access to the Father. Through Him, I enjoy the gift of the Holy Spirit. Because of him, I have hope!
We recently wrote about the spiritual crisis we’re facing our country. If you watch the news too much and dwell on the wickedness of this world, it can be discouraging. It may seem like the devil is winning. That no one cares about spiritual matters. That there is no hope. But that’s not true.
The “hope of the gospel” is still being preached. Men and women, boys and girls are continuing to believe and obey it. Many are holding fast to their confession of hope without wavering (Heb 10:23).
Regardless of the laws that are passed, or the pervasiveness of immorality, indifference and idolatry in our world, nothing can steal our hope. No government. No university. No ideology.
Jesus Christ who healed the sick, raised the dead and calmed the storm is the anchor of our hope when winds of adversity beat upon our souls.
The questions raised by the hymnist Priscilla Jane Owens are worthy of our consideration.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman