Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, January 1, 2022

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi’s note:  I have to admit the error of my ways.  Last week I mistakenly published Hope 28.  In my defense, it was while I was planning to leave for California.  I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t figure it out until now, when I realized I couldn’t publish Hope 28 again.  Then I checked and discovered I never published Hope 27.  Do you forgive me?  Here we go…

Hope 27: Hope-filled Fellowship by David Harwood

God acted on behalf of Judah.

Emotionally overwhelmed by the threatening array of hostile armies, King Jehoshaphat called a fast and sought Adonai. God heard. He answered. The Ruach ha-Kodesh came upon a man who prophesied a faith challenging deliverance. The prophecy was that all they needed to do was “stand and see the salvation of Adonai” (2 Chronicles 17).

This exhortation echoed Moses’ declaration. Israel was being pursued by an army of one of the mightiest empires of that age. They could not escape. The circumstances were insurmountable. Yet, God acted. Look what Moses said.

But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of Adonai, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today… Adonai will fight for you, while you hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13a-14 TLV)

This was the same command that Jehoshaphat believed was a legitimate prophecy. Yes, this happened once before, but could they expect it to happen again? If the word did not come to pass then a massacre would result. Judah would just be… standing there, defenseless.

This is what Jehoshaphat said:

Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in Adonai your God and you will be confirmed. Trust in His prophets and you will succeed.” (2 Chronicles 20:20b TLV)

The prophet told them to wait and Hope. The king called them to trust. Jehoshaphat exhorted them to expect God to act.

The nation did what their king commanded, and God did act. This is an example of a Hope-filled fellowship. The whole nation embraced a promise revealed in prophecy.

On the other hand we have this embarrassing history in Numbers 13-14.

Promise and Hope

Twelve spies came back from an exploration of the promised land. Ten were paralyzed with dread. They rejected their calling because they doubted Adonai’s promise. Hearing of the obstacles, God’s chosen people rejected God’s promise and chose to despair. The nation refused to Hope and refused to act. This lack of expectant-Hope doomed Israel to forty years of chastisement.

Translators call it (הָלַך – hālak) wandering. The word merely means “walking.” Can it rightly be called wandering if they were led? Israel received direction through the phenomena of a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day! They were supernaturally guided in the wilderness by Adonai, but not to their destination. Practically, without exception, each person in the generation whose formative years were spent in slavery spent the rest of their lives in vain. They died without seeing the fulfillment of their promised destiny.

Ultimately, a generation whose foundational experiences were spent in the presence of God and His promised provision reached the Jordan. Those who were raised in liberty crossed it by means of a miracle and began the conquest of their promised land. They were an expectant generation comprised of Hope-filled men and women. They believed God’s immediate purposes, acted, and, as a result, were victorious. Each individual entered into their own promised destiny as they participated in the fellowship of a Hopeful people.

Biblical examples of Hope-based, God graced, action can be multiplied. Faith, accompanied by Hope inspired activity, resulted in the mighty acts, and faithful sufferings, of God’s people.

Within the context of our corporate calling each of us have our own battles to win. In pursuit of the fulfillment of God’s promises we are called to fellowship with others who are warring in the same way. We are called to a Hope-filled fellowship, so let us cultivate a Hope-filled culture.

Commanded to be Courageous

Adonai commanded His people to be courageous. However, God also knows our human weaknesses and made provision for those who doubt. Nobody had to fight. In fact, before going to war, those who were fearful were told to go home. Why? Fear is contagious.

The officers will speak further to the troops and say, ‘What man is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house—so he does not weaken his brothers’ heart like his own.’ (Deuteronomy 20:8 TLV)

In preparation for the conquest, Moses exhorted Israel

Chazak! Be courageous! Do not be afraid or tremble before them. For Adonai your God—He is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:7–8 TLV)

He repeated and expanded the same exhortation to their new leader.

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong! Be courageous! For you are to go with this people into the land Adonai has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you are to enable them to inherit it.

Adonai—He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:7–8 TLV)

Forget fear. Hope is very contagious.

Expecting to see the outcome of one’s faith is Hope. Hope is the outlook and attitude of those who have a faith-filled certainty. Their hearts, their mouths, their actions, are guided by the confidence, “I shall have what I believe I have received.”

Often Adonai will use Hope inspired individuals to bring about deliverance.

Throughout the Bible we see unlikely people being inspired to act upon their faith. They expected (Hoped) to see the outcome of their faith. A story with which most are familiar since childhood is David and Goliath. Let’s review what happened. Perhaps we may find some principles that encourage us to choose Hope.

In this narrative, David’s foundational faith was revealed. He believed that the God of Israel was alive and was a Warrior. (1 Samuel 17:26) He resolved to act upon the basis of who he believed God was, and what God had done. (1 Samuel 17:32) David recalled his history with God. (1 Samuel 17:37a) Then he faced demonic intimidation. He answered with a Hope-filled declaration. (1 Samuel 17:44-47) David ran to the threat, and then he ran, once again, to consolidate the victory Adonai had given him. (1 Samuel 17:48-51)

David’s activity, based on his Hope, established a pattern for his life. When he was a fugitive, running from Saul, men joined him. At first, they were described like this:

Anyone who was in distress, anyone in debt, and anyone embittered rallied around him, and he became their leader. There were about 400 men with him. (1 Samuel 22:2 TLV)

These who loyally joined themselves to him ended up being described like this:

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had… (2 Samuel 23:8a TLV)

These warriors were the foundation of Israel’s armies. They had joined a man who had a vibrant faith, a warlike, irrepressible, Hope and they became like him. Together with David, they were a Hope-filled Fellowship. They were giant killers in fellowship with the giant killer. (1 Chronicles 20:4-8)

We can resolutely trust God . He is the same today as He was in the past. Upon that basis we can resolve to act with expectation. It is not unusual for the obstacles to Hope’s fulfillment to look daunting, but, filled with faith, the warrior runs to the battle, wins and then consolidates the victory.

It is easier to do that when we’re in a fellowship with Hope-filled people.

We are warned about bad associations:

Do not be friends with one given to anger or associate with a hot-tempered person, lest you learn his ways… (Proverbs 22:24–25a TLV)

Do not be deceived! “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 TLV)

The opposite is also true:

He who walks with wise men will be wise… (Proverbs 13:20a NAU)

When you are involved in challenging situations, do not take the counsel or the example of the hopeless to heart. The fearful who would not fight were not cut off from the people. They may be wise and competent in many areas. Yet, they were not the ones with whom one would go to war.

Join yourself to Hope-filled associations. Partake of their encouragement. Better yet, become a foundational member of a Hope-full fellowship.

4For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through patience and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Now may the God of patience and encouragement grant you to be like-minded with one another in the manner of Messiah Yeshua… (Romans 15:4–5 TLV)

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 01-Jan-2022 28th of Tevet, 5782 Parashat Vaera
Ex 9:17-35 Ez 28:25-29:21 2 Th 1:1-12