When Jacob uses the phrase “after ye have obtained a hope in Christ,” I think he is talking about having received the Second Comforter and having received a promise from the Lord that He will cover your sins on the day of judgement. That allows you to have a “hope in Christ” of exaltation.
“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:17-19)
Jacob explains that he and others had a “hope of his glory,” as did “all the holy prophets” who had come before him.
“For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.” (Jacob 4:4)
If all the holy prophets had this hope, and not simply all the people that ever believed in Christ, then this hope appears to be something special. Jacob had more than a generic testimony of the Savior; as Lehi described:
“And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4)
Jacob knew the Savior. He had experienced His glory. When the Savior promises you eternal life, you are assured a celestial resurrection. Might we even describe that as having obtained a specific resurrection before it happens? Is that what Jacob is trying to explain below?
“Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.” (Jacob 4:11)
On a simple level, it makes sense that seeking such a “hope in Christ” would have to come before seeking riches, because when someone’s heart is set on seeking riches he will not, by definition, be able to focus on Christ.
After one has a hope in Christ, he will obtain worldly riches if he seeks them (an interesting promise), and he will seek them for the intent to do good: “to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:19) Such a declarative statement–he “will seek them for the intent to do good”, without conditional language, is possible for one who has been sanctified by the Lord, but not for the common, natural man.
Before one obtains such a hope, when riches are obtained, men tend to “seek their own opulence.”