Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 4, 2021  (7 candles at sunset)
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Hope 27  – We’re in a War. Guard Your Hope by David Harwood

Please revisit your recent resolution to exercise Hope in God. Unless you’ve worked at it, it is probably weaker than when you decided. For your Hope to grow you must guard and nourish any Hope you have. Any effort you put into this is similar to a battle in the middle of a larger conflict. We are at war, called to be fully equipped, and in the list of armor is the helmet, the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

The devil, who has no hope, hates our Hope. Part of his strategy against the Creator is to quench our expectation of experiencing God’s intervening love. He has been industriously pursuing that purpose. Due to his influence every human culture is soaked through and through with insecurity. Humanity does not trust God. Disbelief is in our collective spiritual DNA. Nobody is left untouched. Every social structure is affected.

We do abide in Yeshua. We are participants in the Kingdom. We shine in the darkness. Yet, there is a darkness in which we shine. We also live within the hate-filled sphere of a satanic atmosphere which actively wars against biblical Hope. This environment reflects the emotional state of a malignant spiritual ruler, the authority of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Together with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, the cosmos is saturated with hate, anger, fear, and despair. This fallen prince works through subservient malevolent spirit-beings that share his nature and goals. They war against Hope, and their war is most clearly manifest in the disparaging of our highest hope: the expectation of Yeshua’s return.

Make no mistake, this is a spiritual phenomenon. It is in accord with the prophetic extrapolation of Peter. He prophesied regarding the mockery accorded this blessed Hope by the sophisticates of his day.

First of all, understand that in the last days, scoffers will come scoffing, following after their own desires and saying, “Where is this promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers died, everything goes on just as it has from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3–4 TLV)

These verses describe the ridicule directed at our greatest Hope. Every lesser Hope in any of God’s promises follows a similar pattern. Theocentric anticipation is the object of hell’s strategic scorn. We need to guard our Hope-expectations.

Sennacherib’s Scorn

Let’s examine a biblical illustration of the adversary’s scorn. It’s the sacred history of Hezekiah’s response to Sennacherib, king of Assyria. The army of Assyria had come to conquer. They thought they were unbeatable. Their pride reached to the heavens. Judah’s devastation was imminent. It was a battle to maintain any Hope. However, this was not the first time things looked impossibly grim for God’s people.

Years before Sennacherib came on the scene Judah faced certain destruction. They were surrounded by an overwhelming force. Jehoshaphat and the nation sought God. They rehearsed His purposes and promises. They hoped against hope for deliverance. Adonai sent a word and the nation believed the prophecy. They acted upon it and Hope-expected the prophecy’s fulfillment. God acted.

It was an awe inspiring demonstration of God’s intervening love.

Now, Judah once again faced annihilation. Sennacherib led an overwhelming military force and was determined to destroy Jerusalem. Prior to this Hezekiah had been intimidated by Assyria and paid tribute. They became a vassal state.

Looking for the alleviation of this situation, Hezekiah did not Hope in the God of the Exodus. Instead, he looked to Egypt for help against Assyria.

This was seen as a betrayal of Judah’s relationship to Assyria. The Assyrians invaded to punish their vassal. They demanded an unconditional surrender which included the end of Judah’s national existence. Judah was demoralized. Their situation looked hopeless.

Seeking to avoid the expenditure of any effort, Sennacherib sent an emissary to dishearten Judah. This spokesman sought to sow cynicism and fear in the souls of God’s people. The Assyrians officially mocked God.

… “So don’t listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying: ‘Adonai will deliver us.’…. Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their country out of my hand? So will Adonai deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” (2 Kings 18:32b,35 TLV)

Yet, there was a holy remnant in Jerusalem. Yes, they were besieged. Yes, it looked hopeless, but they still believed in the God of their fathers. Yehovah was the God of the Exodus. He was the God of Jehoshaphat.

Although Hezekiah was not perfect he was a godly king. The situation forced him to seriously seek God for help. Assisting him ascertain the will of God was Isaiah. He was an amazing prophet whose oracles have given Hope to many.

Isaiah prophesied.

Thus says Adonai: Do not be afraid of the words you have heard, with which the boys of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. (2 Kings 19:6b TLV)

Hezekiah prayed.

“Incline Your ear, Adonai, and hear! Open Your eyes, Adonai, and see! Listen to the words of Sennacherib that he has sent to mock the living God…. “Now, Adonai our God, save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Adonai, are God.” (2 Kings 19:16,19 TLV)

Isaiah prophesied and God acted.

Therefore thus says Adonai … I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’ ”  Then it came about that night that the angel of Adonai went out and struck down 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When the men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So King Sennacherib of Assyria withdrew, went away, and returned home, and stayed in Nineveh (2 Kings 19:32a,34–36 TLV)

God’s people refused to give up all Hope. They withstood the scorn because their God was the God who answered prayer. Their God was the delivering God. Their God was Adonai-Tzva’ot. Hezekiah prayed. Isaiah prophesied. God delivered.

We cannot cave in to the culture’s cynical mockery. Sometimes our circumstances can appear to be overwhelming. However, we have the Hope of heaven, the expectation of the Lord Yeshua’s return, the anticipation of our subsequent glorification at the resurrection of the dead, and the sure Hope of participation in the age to come. We are never without Hope and (may God be gracious to us and deliver us from the evil one) we can exercise the same type of expectation in the middle of every trial.

Let the cosmos mock. We have Yeshua.

Yeshua spoke a parable concerning the Kingdom’s relationship to the Word of God. He warned of seed being sown on hard soil that would get stolen by the enemy. When we are aware of God offering us a Hopeful word we must not harden our hearts. Here’s a solemn warning.

For we have become partners of Messiah, if we hold our original conviction firm until the end. As it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:14–15 TLV)

It is up to us to hear Him, receive Hope and guard the Hope we’ve received. We can do this. We can overcome.

For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah—(2 Corinthians 10:4–5 TLV)

Satan’s insinuations about God’s faithfulness are not lost in primeval history. They echo through the ages. The serpent may have softly spoken, “Did indeed God say…?”, but his whispers have grown and become doubt’s deafening shout pervading the ages.

Well, we have a shout, too. Ours is the shout of praise that is motivated by the Ruach energized Word of the LORD. Faith and Hope open the door for the God-who-we-Love’s will to be done. As at the stronghold of Jericho, Hope’s shout shatters demonic defenses. Holy anticipation overcomes the gates of Hades.

Are your Hopes mocked? Are you overwhelmed by circumstances and feel like surrendering? Like Hezekiah, bring your petition to Adonai and expect an answer.

Adonai, in the morning You hear my voice. In the morning I order my prayer before You and eagerly watch, and wait expectantly for an answer. (Psalm 5:3)

Maintain your confidence. Let’s praise Him together. God is faithful.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 04-Dec-2021 30th of Kislev, 5782 Parashat Miketz Chanukah: 6 Candles Rosh Chodesh Tevet Day 1
Ge 43:30-44:17 Nu 28:9-15; 7:42-47 Zec 2:14-4:7 Php 2:1-11
1 Macc 11-12