The Hope of the Church

“Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” —Hebrews 6:19

HOPE IS A combination of desire and assurance. One might desire something very earnestly, but if there were no assurance of ever obtaining it, he could not properly hope for it. On the other hand, one might know for certain that some great tragedy was coming into his life, but because he would have no desire for it, it would be improper to use the word hope in connection therewith. We desire that for which we hope, and we hope for it because of being assured from reliable sources that our desire is to be realized.

So it is with the hope of the church—the hope “that she may be like her Lord,” ‘see him as he is’, be a ‘partaker of the divine nature’, and share his glory as his ‘joint-heir’. (I John 3:2; John 17:24; Rom. 8:17; II Pet. 1:4) By nature mankind does not desire heavenly things. We have been created to live on the earth as human beings, and are quite satisfied to have it that way. The desire for heavenly things, therefore, must first of all be created, and the Lord does this for us by his Spirit, through the exceeding great and precious promises of his Word.

Even so, our desire for heavenly things is not based on actual knowledge of what they are like, for they are quite beyond human comprehension. The Apostle speaks of this, saying, “Behold, now are we the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2) ‘It doth not yet appear’—that is, we cannot grasp the height of glory of the nature to which we are called. But of one thing we are certain, however, and that is that we ‘shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’. The fact that we are to see him as he is—not as he was in the flesh—proves that we will be like him.

Of Jesus it is written that since his resurrection he is the express image of his Father’s person. This indicates that we are to be like him. This is one of the unshakeable truths substantiated by the promises of Jesus, such as when he said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3) Later, Jesus prayed for the fulfillment of this promise, saying: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.”—John 17:24

Jesus also said in this same prayer that the glory which the Heavenly Father had given to him, he had given to his disciples. At that time, the heavenly glory had been given to Jesus only by promise—he did not actually receive it until after his resurrection—and he had given it to his disciples, and through them to the entire church, in the same manner. It was a glorious legacy from the Father to him, and by promise he was sharing it with his followers.

In Romans 5:2, the apostle speaks of rejoicing “in the hope of the glory of God.” In the eighth chapter and seventeenth verse, he uses the expression ‘heirs of God’. We are heirs of God because we are ‘joint-heirs with Jesus Christ’. We read these promises and they give us a firm foundation for our faith, yet how little we are able to comprehend what they actually mean. Paul said that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, but what does that mean? What do we know about God’s glory? True, our sanctified reason helps us to grasp some things concerning his glory, but how far short our conceptions of divine glory must come!

We know something of God’s wisdom and power for we see these attributes on display all around us, day and night. Every created thing reminds us of them. Through his Word we have learned still more about God’s wisdom and power. We see the manifold wisdom of God exhibited through his plan of redemption and salvation for a lost race. We see his power displayed in the resurrection of Jesus and in the first resurrection of the church; and we know that it will be manifested still further throughout the ‘times of restitution of all things’. Infinite wisdom, and almighty power—these are elements of God’s glory, but we are quite unable to grasp their full significance.

The Bible also reveals God’s justice and love. To the extent that our finite minds—fallen and imperfect as they are—can understand the operation of these attributes of God’s character in connection with his plan, it helps us to grasp the idea of his glory. We can sing about “love divine, all love excelling,” although the full length and breadth, and height and depth, of that love is quite beyond our full comprehension. We do understand something of God’s glorious character, and this limited knowledge begets within us a desire to be like him.

While our imperfect minds are able to understand a little of God’s character, there is an element of his glory of which we know practically nothing, and that is the glory of his nature—the divine nature. But we are to partake of this glory also. Peter said that unto us are given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” (II Pet. 1:4) Yes, we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, including the glory of his nature! In fact, if we are faithful now, if by faith we are applying all the principles of divine righteousness as they are set forth in God’s Word, we will see his power and wisdom. But if faithful, we will be able perfectly to administrate divine justice and love; but until then we will not be able to understand these attributes of his character fully, but upon our resurrection they will become an integral part of us. And then, also, our hope is that we will be partakers of the divine nature—immortality.


As we have already noted, it is quite impossible for our human minds to grasp with any degree of fullness all that is involved in the glorious hope of the church. However, in addition to the many revealing and faith-strengthening promises that are recorded in the Bible, the Lord has also furnished illustrations to help us grasp to some extent the magnitude of this thought. One of these is that suggested in our text. Here the apostle, in speaking of his hope, declares that it “entereth into that which is within the veil.”

The reference here is to the typical Tabernacle in the wilderness. As we know, the inside of the Tabernacle proper was separated into two compartments by a veil. The compartment beyond this veil was called the Most Holy, or the “Holiest of all.” (Heb. 9:3) The apostle explains that the Holiest of all was a figure or illustration of “heaven itself,” hence, when in our text he speaks of our hope as being ‘an anchor which entereth within the veil’, it is another reminder that our hope is indeed a heavenly one.—Heb. 9:24

It is well to remember in this connection, however, that the Israelites as a whole did not have the privilege of going into the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. This was the privilege of the priests only. Indeed, into the Holiest of all the High Priest went alone once each year. This was in connection with the Day of Atonement sacrifices when he sprinkled the blood of atonement upon the Mercy Seat. The use of the Most Holy was very limited.

The fact that the apostle speaks of our hope entering beyond the veil, where Jesus our Forerunner has already entered, in itself reveals the height of glory to which we are called. It puts the church in antitype, not with the camp of Israel, but with the priests; not as those waiting in the camp for the priest to come out and bless them, but as a part of the antitypical priesthood, who will share in the priestly work of blessing the people when the “better sacrifices” of this Gospel Age are finished.—Heb. 9:23

This is quite in harmony with Peter’s statement, “Ye are … a royal priesthood,” and his explanation that our present responsibility as priests is to “offer up sacrifices.” (I Pet. 2:9,5) No wonder Paul describes God’s invitation to such glory as a “heavenly calling,” and explains that the High Priest of our profession, or order of priesthood, is Christ Jesus. (Heb. 3:1) Truly, we should be inspired with such a prospect! Yet it is important to remember that there are conditions attached to this heavenly calling, and one of them is that, as priests, we are expected to offer sacrifice—even the sacrifice of ourselves.


There was only one article of furniture in the typical Most Holy, but it was a very important one. Paul describes it as the Ark of the Covenant, which, he says, “was overlaid round about with gold,” “wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the Covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the Mercy Seat.” (Heb. 9:4,5) Inasmuch as our hope is centered in the Holiest of all, it is evident that the Lord intended everything therein to foreshadow the various things involved in that for which we hope.


Manna from heaven was provided for the Israelites during their forty years’ wanderings in the wilderness. By this manna they were kept alive. The manna itself was quite corruptible, and it was necessary to gather it each day; except that on the sixth day of each week they were to gather a double portion. This was in order that they would not have to work on the seventh or Sabbath Day. In the Lord’s providence, the manna that fell on the sixth day would keep fresh an additional day.

Jesus referred to this arrangement and spoke of the manna as being an illustration of himself—that he was the bread which came down from heaven, and that anyone availing himself of this heavenly provision could live forever. (John 6:32-35,49-51) So it will be that during the times of restitution of all things, the entire human race will be given the opportunity of accepting God’s provision of life through Jesus. (Acts 3:21) They will live forever, but only if they continue to partake of the life-giving provisions made for them, just as the Israelites needed to gather and eat the typical manna every day.

But there was a small portion of that typical manna which did not corrupt—a portion which, by God’s instructions, was gathered and placed in a golden pot in the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. This did not need to be replenished; for by divine power it was kept from corrupting. There is an allusion to the typical significance of this golden pot of manna in the promise the Lord made to the church in Pergamos—a promise which all faithful followers of the Master can apply to themselves. It reads: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.”—Rev. 2:17

Of Jesus it is written that he brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. (II Tim. 1:10) If, as he himself indicated, the corruptible manna in the wilderness was typical of the life that mankind can obtain through him, then it is logical to conclude that the manna which was placed in the golden pot and did not corrupt prefigured immortality.

Jesus explained that his Heavenly Father had life in himself—that is, life independent of any sources of supply—and that he was giving this same quality of life to him. (John 5:26) Jesus, in turn, shares this reward with his church. And how beautifully this highest of all qualities of life was illustrated by the manna that was kept in the golden pot! It did not need to be renewed; and even the vessel in which it was kept—being gold—also foreshadowed the divine nature. What a glorious prospect for the overcomers! What a blessed hope it is that entereth into that which is within the veil!


Another article that was stored in the Ark of the Covenant was Aaron’s rod that budded. There is a very interesting story connected with this rod—a story which leaves no doubt as to its typical meaning. The story starts with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. The Lord destroyed these rebels with their families and sympathizers. Afterwards there was considerable murmuring among the Israelites—they still were not satisfied fully that the Levitical tribe, of which Aaron was the head, should be the exclusive servants in religious matters.

Thereupon God instructed Moses to have the head of each of the twelve tribes bring his rod, and that all twelve rods were to be laid up in the Tabernacle. The Lord explained that he would indicate his choice by whichever one of these rods budded. “And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the Tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron … brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.”—Num. 17:8

Then the Lord instructed Moses to take this rod into the Tabernacle where it was to be kept as a testimony against those who rebelled. Thus Aaron’s rod that budded prefigured the fact that the church is God’s choice, his elect company, a “chosen generation.” (I Pet. 2:9) Yes, all whose hope enters into that which is within the veil have been called by God, and are elect according to his foreknowledge.—I Pet. 1:2

In the exercise of his foreknowledge, God ordained that each one who qualified to be part of his elect church must be conformed to the image of his Son. (Rom. 8:29) It is not an arbitrary choice, but one that is based upon the meeting of certain conditions, and those conditions are that we become copies of God’s dear Son. This thought was well illustrated in the case of Aaron’s rod. His rod was chosen because it brought forth buds, and flowers, and fruit.

It may have been this illustration that Jesus had in mind when he used the expression, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:20) Christians who bear the fruits of righteousness will certainly be known by God, and blessed by him. They are his called and elect ones, yet it remains for us, “by patient continuance in well doing,” to make our “calling and election sure.” (Rom. 2:7; II Pet. 1:10) And what an inspiration it is to know that our hope which entereth into that which is within the veil includes the blessed assurance that God has chosen us for this high position, this inestimable honor of entering into his palace and partaking of his glory.


The Tables of the Law were also kept in the Ark of the Covenant, which means that they likewise foreshadowed something important pertaining to the spiritual priesthood of this age. These tables, of course, contained the Ten Commandments—the epitome of the Law which was the basis of the Law Covenant. These tables bearing the Law were given to Moses, the Lord explained, in order that he might teach the people.—Exod. 24:12

In II Corinthians 33, the apostle speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, explaining that it writes thereon the “epistles of Christ.” He contrasts this with the writing of the Law on the typical tables of stone. In succeeding verses the apostle shows that we are made able ministers of the New Covenant, as Moses was a servant of the Law Covenant. It seems clear that the apostle wants us to understand that the church bears the same relationship to Christ in connection with the New Covenant as the tables of stone did toward Moses in connection with the Law Covenant.

And the Lord explained to Moses, as we have seen, that those tables of the Law were given to him that he might teach the people. So the church, in association with Christ, are to be used by him to teach the people. As his epistles, telling of him and about the grace of God manifested through him, these will testify to all—in due time—that life is available through accepting Christ and obeying the laws of the New Covenant.

The circumstances under which the typical tables of stone were inscribed with the Law of God are most interesting and revealing. Moses had the tables with him in the Mount, and a cloud descended around him, and the glory of the Lord appeared. The first set of tables was destroyed by Moses when, in his anger with the heathen worship of the Israelites, he returned to them from the Mount. In connection with the writing of the Law on the second set considerable detail is given concerning the glory of the Lord. We quote:

“He hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”—Exod. 34:4-7

One who is acquainted with the divine plan of the ages can readily see that the various characteristics of God’s glory mentioned in this passage are all revealed through that plan. In other words, God’s glory is shown to us by the truth. His Law, being inscribed on the tables of stone while his glory was being proclaimed, finds a parallel in the experiences of his church, for it is the power of the Spirit through the truth working in our hearts that makes us the epistles of Christ.

In keeping with this illustration we might say that throughout the entire Gospel Age, the church has been with her Lord in the Mount, obscured and unknown to the world, while the ministry of the truth has been preparing them for their future glorious position with Christ when they will reign with him in glory, and as ministers of reconciliation, will be co-mediators with him of the Law Covenant.

When Moses came down from the Mount there was a glory on his countenance, but that glory, the apostle explains, “had no glory” as compared with our hope of glory, the “glory that excelleth.” (II Cor. 3:7-11) Paul also declares that when Christ who is our life shall appear, we also “shall appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) What a glorious hope, indeed, the hope that entereth into that which is within the veil.


The cover on the Ark of the Covenant was called the Mercy Seat. It was a solid slab of gold, from which arose two cherubim. These faced each other, looking in toward, and down upon the Mercy Seat itself. Between these cherubim, and upon the Mercy Seat, there appeared a supernatural light, sometimes referred to as the Shekinah light, or Shekinah Glory. There are here, then, four things to be considered: the two cherubim, the Mercy Seat, and the light.

Since the promise is that we are to partake of the glory of God, and since our hope entereth into that which is within the veil, is it not reasonable to suppose that in this wonderful covering over the Ark of the Covenant we have a representation of God’s glory? There are four cardinal attributes which make up God’s glorious character—Wisdom, Justice, Love, and Power. His Justice seems well illustrated by the Mercy Seat. It was here that the blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled, picturing the satisfaction of divine justice in order that his favor might be extended to those for whom atonement had been made.

The two cherubim well illustrate the attributes of Love and Power. As they looked down upon the Mercy Seat, they seem to suggest the idea of waiting until the blood had been sprinkled before starting out to carry the blessings of the atonement to the people. God’s power and love will indeed be the agencies by which the atonement accomplished by the blood of Christ will be speeded to a sin-cursed and dying world—in God’s due time.

Light is a symbol of knowledge and understanding; and while from one standpoint the whole character of God is light, for in him there is no darkness at all, may it not be that there his wisdom is particularly emphasized, the wisdom by which all the glorious attributes of his character find a way to work together for the blessing of the people? It was by the Shekinah light that the cherubim could see when the blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, hence would know when it was time to speed on their mission of blessing.

Will the church partake of this wondrous glory? The apostle so says: “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2) If we draw near to the Lord now, and allow the influence of his Spirit to transform us more and more into his likeness, and not become weary in well-doing, but continue faithful even unto death, we will be raised in his likeness in the first resurrection. Truly, our hope of glory enters into that which is within the veil, where the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.—Heb. 6:19,20

Dawn Bible Students Association
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