Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, June 26, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 26 Jun 2021 16th of Tamuz, 5781 Parashat Balak

Nu 24:14-25:9 Mic 5:7[6]-6:8 2 Pe 2

Hope 4: Helped to Hope

by David Harwood

There is a type of faith that proceeds from your Father. It is like a guarantee of things to come. A guarantee? Yes, faith certifies that you will receive that for which God enables you to believe. Certainly, there is such a thing as presumption, but there is also enabled faith. This type of trust is often a spiritually strengthened relational reliance received through Ruach enlivened Scriptures. This faith is predictive. When you have it you know that you will receive that for which you have asked.

Look at these two verses from 1 John.

Now this is the confidence we have before Him—that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have the requests we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14–15 TLV) 

Now that is an amazing principle. John, one of the Twelve Emissaries, towards the end of his long life, shared his confidence with us that we might share in the surety of faith. He was writing about their community’s shared experience. It is similar to Hebrews 11:1. 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen. Hebrews 11:1 TLV)

Do we have reason to believe? Yes, our confidence is based upon the revelation of His will. Do we have reason to hope? Yes, we do. God is faithful, and the strength of our hope-expectation is determined by the intensity of our trust in God.

Here is an example of Paul’s anticipation of answered prayer. The man, Paul, was in jail. He was under a lot of pressure. Believers were praying for him. He wrote: 

for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance, through your intercession and the help of the Ruach of Messiah Yeshua. My eager expectation and hope is that in no way will I be put to shame, but that with complete boldness Messiah will even now, as always, be exalted in my body—whether through life or through death. (Philippians 1:19–20a) 

He was zealously Kingdom oriented. What an example of dedication to the Messiah’s glory, an example worthy of our emulation! Paul also exemplified hope. What I’d like to focus on is his attitude of anticipation. He confided in these friends that he had eager expectation (ἀποκαραδοκία – apokaradokia) and hope. Paul eagerly expected and hope-anticipated that their prayers on his behalf would be heard and answered.

This same word (apokaradokia) is used in Romans 8:19

For the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19 TLV) 

It is also used to communicate the attitude of those waiting for Yeshua to return.

so also Messiah, was offered once to bear the sins of many. He will appear a second time, apart from sin, to those eagerly awaiting Him for salvation (Hebrews 9:28 TLV) 

This word “appears to add a significant component of desire.”

When Paul used apokaradokia he communicated an intensification of hope. The addition of “earnest expectation” to “hope” strengthens in the reader the sense of what the apostle was experiencing. It was not simply the confident expectation (hope) of answered prayer, it was the eagerly desired, anticipated answer to prayer. He was communicating hope on fire! This is the same man who prayed for the Roman believers:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and shalom in trusting, so you may overflow with hope in the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. (Romans 15:13 TLV).

In Philippians 1:20 we read that Paul experienced this joyful, peace-filled expectation. This was not mere theory to this man. Yes, there were times that Paul almost despaired of life, but from the record of his transparent self-disclosures we know he was filled with exuberant, transcendent hope. We can have the same type of hope, but we need help to hope with all our heart. One way that help is imparted is through the prayers of others. Let’s look at Paul’s self-revelatory report from 2 Corinthians 1.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living. In fact, we had within ourselves the death sentence—so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so great a danger of death will continue to rescue us—we have set our hope on Him that He will rescue us again. You also are helping by your prayer for us, so that from many people thanks may be given on our behalf for the gracious gift given us through the help of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8–11 TLV) 

If you just took the time to read this passage you’ll see the theme of overcoming hope placed in the God who raises the dead. He answers prayers in hopeless situations. He is the God of Hope who is the reason for our hope.

Helped to Hope

We need God’s assistance to expect His intervention. It’s good to know that we are not solely dependent upon other people’s prayers. God can answer our own prayers, too. That is a given. But will He?

Here’s some good news: God has promised to help. It is His desire to help (Isaiah 30:18a). He is the God who helps. Isaiah 41 includes this guarantee three times. Contained within God’s exhortations to Israel – to be brave – is a promise that can be applied to the follower of Yeshua: “I will help you.” It can’t hurt to read these verses:

‘Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. … For I am Adonai your God who upholds your right hand, who says to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you.” It is a declaration of Adonai, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:10,13–14 TLV) 

A paraphrase might be, “Israel, don’t be anxious about your circumstances. I will help you.” To which I ask, will He help us to hope? Will He help us to rely upon Him? Yes. We are never self-reliant. Like a branch abides in a vine so we abide in Yeshua. As a branch grows and gradually bears fruit, so we will experience increased hope as our trust in Him increases. We can hope in His help, to help us to hope. There is grace on top of grace (John 1:16b).

The psalmist, David, wrote out his prayer: 

Show me Your ways, Adonai. Teach me Your paths. (Psalm 25:4 TLV) 

We are exploring the way of hope. He will guide us along that path. He will answer this prayer and teach us. We can embrace the confidence that if we ask Him to fill us with hope that He will hear and answer us. We can eagerly expect and hope-anticipate the answer to this prayer. Even if we’re in circumstances that might cause us to despair we can push past the appearances, approach the Resurrecting God and anticipate His deliverance. He will show us how to hope. There is no need to fear that our hope will fade before we receive the manifestation of what we have already received. God will help us. Yeshua said:

For this reason I say to you, whatever you pray and ask, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 TLV) 

So we pray: 

God of Hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that I will abound in Hope by the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.

God continually answers prayer. Expect that one to be answered. 

“Faithful is the One who calls you—and He will make it happen! (1 Thessalonians 5:24 TLV).”