Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, October 9, 2021
Hope 20 -Strengthening Our Hope by David Harwood
Let’s develop our hope.
In our previous meditation I mentioned that Romans 15:4 points out the Scriptures as being a source of our hope. Those verses are an incredible revelation of how the God of whom the Word testifies uses the testimony found in the inspired Word.
For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through patience and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 TLV)
It seems as if Paul said that a primary purpose behind the writing of Scripture is that those who are the beloved of God would have eschatological hope. That means that, by faith, we are called to view ourselves as existing in God’s favor. We are to deliberately see the God of the Scriptures, in whom we have placed our trust, as being on our side. As with Judah in the Babylonian exile, He has plans for us to give us a blessed destiny. Here’s a familiar foundational verse that may be applied by faith to every believer:
For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 TLV)
The Scriptures are the source of godly wisdom. We get to receive instruction through them so that we might have hope. That which they reveal about God’s interaction with humanity and the people of Israel provide patterns through which we might see His saving activity with every individual child of God. Did God come through in the past? He will do so again. Why expect that? Read the Bible. In the midst of tragedy and disappointment did He ultimately turn things around? Guess what! He’ll do that again. Why hope? Read the Bible.
God’s acting according to that which has been written is a necessary outlook for us to persevere in every circumstance. This perspective is reinforced through the Scriptures. Concerning judgment, Paul used Israel’s wayward wilderness experience to reinforce this holy truth:
Now these things happened to them as an example, and it was written down as a warning to us—on whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:11 TLV)
Contained within that warning is a principle that affirms Romans 15:4. That which was written is relevant to our lives. The Scriptures were composed and given to us that we might be strengthened to continually hold on to the hope we’ve received. Although circumstances change, humans remain the same. We all have an ultimate destiny. Also, and this is definitely true, God does not change. He wants to bring us to Himself.
For Messiah once suffered for sins also—the righteous for the unrighteous—in order to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18a TLV)
The LORD God wants to strengthen our emotional state so as to reflect this reality. He uses the Bible to help us maintain the hope to which we were introduced through the proclamation which has its roots in the Bible.
To get the most out of the Scriptures it is helpful to review the vocabulary of hope.
The other morning I read these verses.
Paul, a slave of God and an emissary of Messiah Yeshua, for the faith of God’s chosen and the knowledge of truth that is in keeping with godliness, 2based on the hope of eternal life. God—who cannot lie—promised this before the beginning of time. (Titus 1:1–2 TLV)
I immediately, reflexively, reverted to a colloquial definition of hope. In the beginning of these meditations I quoted The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. It defines hope like this:
… to want something to happen or be true and to believe that it is possible or likely
That’s how I viewed hope in this context.
My mind has been trained in our common culture’s definition of the word: hope. That way of viewing hope distorted what Paul was saying. Emotionally, I read “in the hope of eternal life” like this:
in the uncertain, but greatly desired, outcome (that may, in fact, actually happen) eternal life.
How different the verse reads and feels when the word hope is replaced by the English equivalent of its biblical definition. What we understand affects our souls. Look at “in the hope of eternal life” through the lens of hope’s synonyms.
First, the text:
… on the hope of eternal life
To me that feels a little doubtful… a little less like a sure thing. Here’s how I read it:
I hope we get eternal life…
… on the uncertain, but greatly desired, outcome (that may, in fact, actually happen – at least, I hope so): eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago
Now with the biblical definition:
… the (certain expectation) of eternal life
… the (confident anticipation) of eternal life
To me those words feel different from “in the hope of eternal life.” To me it feels more solid. It feels less “iffy”. It feels like something that is sure. Those words convey certainty. Those words provoke expectation. That is hope.
I want to work a little together with you in reviewing the emotional impact of the true definition of hope.
Romans 15:13 references our Creator the God of Hope. The Greek word for hope in that verse is elpidos (ἐλπίίδος). It is hope used as a noun. It comes from elpis (ἐλπίς). That is the most common Greek word for hope in the New Covenant Scriptures and the Septuagint.
One commentator mentioned this concerning hope (elpis):
This Greek term does not have the connotation of uncertainty as the English term.
It means anticipation or expectation. Here’s an example of how elpis (ἐλπίς) is translated expect within a common, daily-life type of circumstance. The Lord said:
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to take, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:34a TLV)
To reiterate, the word expect is the Greek word elpis-hope. That is reflected in the New English Translation.
… from whom you hope to be repaid (Luke 6:34b NET)
This Greek word as a noun (You have been my hope) or verb (I hope in God) is used over 225 times in the Septuagint in about 150 verses. It translates several Hebrew words that mean… hope.
There are hopes which are good. There are hopes for evil things. There are hopes accompanied with a lot of tension. Sometimes hope is best translated confident expectation. Hope can be a battle. The common denominator is that hope is focused on the future. One does not yet see what one is hoping for. It hasn’t come yet.
Let’s deliberately use the synonyms to make the verses mean what they meant.
Through Him we also have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in the hope (confident expectation, anticipation) of God’s glory. (Romans 5:2 TLV)
At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope (confident expectation, anticipation)… (Ephesians 2:12a TLV)
A reasonable anticipation.
Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope (confident expectation, anticipation) that is in you, (1 Peter 3:15 TLV)
Yeshua is the guarantee of our highest expectations. He is our hope (the one we anticipate). As we continue to study some examples from the Scriptures to build the strength of our hope let us continually bring to mind that the Messiah is the foundation and strength of every hope.
For in Him (the Son of God) all the promises of God are “Yes.” Therefore also through Him (Messiah Jesus) is the “Amen” by us, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20 TLV)
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 9-Oct-2021 3rd of Cheshvan, 5782 Parashat Noach
Ge 11:1-32 Isa 54:1-55:5 2 Pe 3:1-14