Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, March 18, 2023
Shabbat Shalom,

Day 31: Morning
Faith, Hope, and Love Toward God
by David Harwood

In this life there are three virtues that strengthen our relationship with God and are the source of our faithful perseverance. They are faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13). These virtues are dependent upon Ruach ha-Kodesh–given illumination, or/and Ruach ha-Kodesh–given impartation that leads to illumination.

After all, the cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) is spiritually instinctual. It is the result of the presence of the Spirit of God’s Son in our lives. Just as an infant recognizes, but hardly knows his/her father, so we, being born from above, recognize our Father. At the new birth we receive enabling favor to relate to God through our faith, hope, and love for Him. I am certain that anyone reading these meditations will most likely know the verse to which I’m referring, but here it is anyway. If you can, read it aloud.

But now (in this life) these three remain— faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 TLV) 

This refers to faith, hope and love toward God. The result of our trust in God is growing anticipation of God’s activity. The result of spiritually illuminated faith and hope is a growing love for God. Our love for God is the greatest of these virtues. The Priority Command focuses us on the importance of this love. Moses exhorted Israel; the Savior of Humanity reiterated and stressed it. I want to grow in these three virtues, but my priority is to grow in my love for God. After all, that is the Greatest Command.

I have prayed for myself and those I love along these lines for years and even wrote a song that helps me intercede. The lyrics are simple, repetitive and helpful. Here they are:

Fill me up with faith, hope and love 

Fill me up with faith in Who You really are

Fill me up with faith, hope and love 

Fill me up with hope because of Who You are

Fill me up with faith, hope and love 

Fill me up with love for Who You really are.

I substitute “me” with people’s names. Although you don’t know the melody, I encourage you to pray along these lines using my adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13:13 as a template.

In sacred history and in the canon, the First Commandment preceded the Great Command. That command was introduced in a relational context. God reminded Israel that He delivered them from slavery. That was their relationship. The Lord is Israel’s deliverer. He reminded them of this and then called them to maintain loyal gratitude.

I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3 TLV) 

The Greatest Command, Love your God, is the heart within the First of the Ten Commandments. The First Commandment is made alive by love for God. A believer’s love for God empowers him/her to fulfill the First Commandment. The God-lover wants Him to be in first place. But what can make loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength possible?

Our hearts are weak, our minds distracted. Left to ourselves, we set our minds on earthly things (Philippians 3:19). We are reflexively and genetically predisposed to be focused upon ourselves. We need God’s help.

Before the Foremost Command was spoken came a hungry heart that was searching for a revelatory encounter with the Lord.

Then (Moses) said, “Please, show me Your glory!” (Exodus 33:18 TLV)

Moses’ cry: Show me Who You really are!

God answered. Here are the verses recording Moses’ experience:

Then Adonai descended in the cloud, (and) stood with him there, as he called on the Name of Adonai

Then Adonai passed before him, and proclaimed, 

Adonai, Adonai, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-7 TLV)

This revelation preceded Moses’ command. These revealed attributes are the foundation of God’s foundational saving act: the deliverance from Egypt.

Please pray:

Living God, please reveal aspects of Your glory that will capture my heart. Fill me with faith in Who You really are, hope because of Who You are, and love for Who You really are. Thank You so much!

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 18 Mar-2023 25th of Adar, 5783 Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei Shabbat HaChodesh
Ex 40:1-38 Ex 12:1-20 Ez 45:16-46:18 Col 2:16-23