Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, January 8, 2022
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,
Hope 29 – Hope in the Midst of Our Nations by David Harwood
My desire is that these mediations would not be so time bound as to become useless in the future. However; I feel as if I would be remiss if I ignored the discouragement, the lack of Hope, endemic in the midst of the nations. I live in the United States of America, but I am not just writing about my country.
There is a prevailing moral malaise which results in the increasing anxiety and discouragement afflicting the nations. Yet, believers are called to courageously Hope and demonstrate their holy anticipation. In the light of this, let us not be feckless and become at one with this atmosphere, becoming manifestations of the spirit of the age. We serve the God of Hope not the despairing spirit. In the light of this allegiance, it would be a good strategy to concentrate on cultivating an overcoming Hope. Please review this end time oracle that comes straight from the mouth of God Incarnate.
In Luke 21:25–28 (TLV) we read of Yeshua prophesying that “upon the earth nations will be confused by the roaring of the sea and its waves.” As a result “People will lose heart from fear and anticipation of what is overtaking the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” However, that is not the end of this prophecy. He said, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” He completed this with an exhortation. Here it is: “Now when these things begin to happen, stand straight and lift up your heads, because your salvation is near!”
If we are approaching such a season, as was foretold, then perhaps it is time to reinforce and build our capacities to Hope. Here’s a good foundation: determine to preserve the strength of what we already possess. Yeshua said, “I am coming soon—hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” (Revelation 3:11 TLV) That’s a good blueprint for building our Hope.
We are called to guard our souls.
“But take care for yourselves, lest your hearts are weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of daily life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who reside on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36 Lexham English Bible)
We can actively trust God, do good, and cultivate faithfulness (Psalm 37:3). “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9) Doing good (Psalm 37) is connected with that assured expectation. Paul wrote:
… the one plowing ought to plow in hope and the one threshing in hope of a share in the crop.. (1 Corinthians 9:10b TLV)
God calls us to serve Him as we are motivated by faith, hope, and love. Working with wisdom, we get to know our identities and roles within the context of the believing community which is connected to Heaven (Hebrews 12:22). We are called to persevere in our assigned places (1 Corinthians 12:11,28) even if every temporal structure is shaken and removed.
See to it that you do not refuse the One who is speaking! For if they did not escape when they refused the One who was warning them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject the One who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.”
Now this phrase, “Yet once more,” shows the removal of those things that are shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude—through this we may offer worship in a manner pleasing to God, with reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25–29 TLV)
We are worshipers who desire participation in the heavenly city God has prepared for us. (Hebrews 11:13-16) Meanwhile, in the midst of the nations, wherein we find ourselves on pilgrimage, we are to live Hopefully and labor steadfastly.
Therefore, my dearly loved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord—because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 TLV)
I love my nation. I hope you love yours. In every culture there are opportunities for believers to steward their civic responsibilities. Yes, we are commanded to prioritize our love for our fellow disciples, but this is not exclusive love. We are also called to love our neighbors. We are called to love our cultural and political adversaries, too. While this is true, and we work out our loving loyalty to those around us, reverencing God, we should not lose sight of our first allegiance and our ultimate Hope.
It is possible to overemphasize, and pervert, patriotism. Also, loving our own ethnic groups can degenerate into tribalism with the attendant hostility towards those who are “other.” Consider this warning and exhortation.
(For many walk who are enemies of the cross of Messiah—I have often told you about them, and now I am even weeping as I tell you. Their end is destruction—their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame. They set their minds on earthly things.)
For our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. He will transform this humble body of ours into the likeness of His glorious body, through the power that enables Him even to put all things in subjection to Himself. (Philippians 3:18–21 TLV)
It is possible that our Hopes are off center, zeroed in on earthly things. Personally, I believe there is going to be a great reversal in my nation’s spiritual and cultural atmosphere. I expect it and pray for it. I hope against hope for this (Romans 4:18a NAU). When I view my nation I order my emotional life in harmony with this expectation. Consider, when the Ark of the Covenant was captured by Israel’s enemy God decapitated Dagon’s image and brought the testimony of His presence back into His land without the help of human hands. (1 Samuel 5-6:15) I anticipate the same type of activity in my nation. I encourage you to embrace the same Hope for your nation.
However, our common citizenship is in Heaven. We await the Messiah Yeshua’s return. More than the transformation of any nation is the promised transformation of our earthly state into the liberating likeness of Yeshua’s glory.
In the light of this, shine.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you might be blameless and innocent, children of God in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation. Among them you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may boast in the day of Messiah that I did not run or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14–16 TLV)
Despite its overuse and misapplications God’s promise to Israel may be judiciously, circumspectly, Hopefully applied to all who belong to the Messiah.
Then Adonai appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself for a House of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:12–14 TLV)
In addition to this specific promise, we have this remarkable promise of answered prayer.
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19 TLV)
In the light of such promises who can dare to give up Hope. We have eternal Hope. We can also embrace Hope for our nations in this present age.
Such a temporal Hope is, in many ways, dependent upon the spiritual wholesomeness of the Messiah’s Body within the nations. In our next meditation I want to briefly expose us to some biblical expectations for the believing community in this age.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 08-Jan-2022 6th of Sh’vat, 5782 Parashat Bo
Ex 13:1-16 Jer 46:13-28 Rev 16:1-21