‘Forlorn hope’ now just means ‘lost hope’. That’s not how it was in the 16th century, when a forlorn hope wasn’t a bad feeling about the world but a robust band of fighters. They would volunteer to attack a fortified position or to try and breach a wall of a fort or to take a well defended hill. It was called forlorn because most of the men in the undertaking would die or be wounded but if the attack was successful survivors could expect advancement that was otherwise impossible for them. A soldier long in the ranks who had no hope of becoming an officer had a forlorn hope if he participated in the attack. survived and could be promoted.
So imagine my surprise when I read this in the book of Micah chapter 2 –
13 The Breaker will go up before them. They will break through, pass in through the gate and go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.
It was a forlorn hope on Calvary. It looked like the strong man had won and the prince of Life was dead. “in Satan’s domain his hosts shouted and jeered for Jesus was slain whom the evil ones feared” LSB 480 or
The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb;
But lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free;
In glorious victory
He who is strong to save
Has triumphed o’er the grave. LSB 467
The Cross for all the world looked like defeat but it was the death of death, the breaker Christ) in His suffering stormed the gates of hell and broke through. The world powers that seek to keep us enslaved were routed and the victory has been secured. Christ breaks the power of sin. He leads us in the paths of righteousness, by giving us his righteousness.
To the world it was a forlorn hope and a seeming defeat. The disciples were devastated but Christ won. His enemies rejoiced but Christ won. Leaving behind his glory and emptying Himself, the breaker, the forlorn hope has become our righteousness and been given the Name that is above every other name.