Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, June 5, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,  

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

Sat 5 June-2021 25th of Sivan, 5781 Parashat Sh’lach

Nu 15:27-41 Jos 2:1-24 Heb 3:7-4:13

Hope!  What is Hope?

Hope is a cultivated virtue. It participates in the revelation of God’s goodness. 

Through 1 Corinthians 13:13 we find that hope is accorded the highest dignity. Paul specified that the premier abiding virtues are faith, hope and love. 

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

What is hope? Why is it important? Why is it in this list?  Why didn’t Paul write “But now faith and love abide these two, but the greater of these is love”? Why insert hope?  What is hope doing in such exalted company? 

Actually, hope belongs there. Faith, hope, and love are siblings. Hope is part of a household of virtues.  Hope is related to faith and love. What a royal family! Despite this illustrious company hope is often given short shrift as far as attention is concerned. It is like the proverbial middle child. 

It’s a fact, faith is the first member of this trio we meet in our walk with God. Faith is responsible for the development of the rest of our relationship with our Father. Love is sort of like the adorable youngest child. It is the darling of the family.  Hope is the overlooked child. It is mistakenly viewed as the less mature sibling of its brother, faith.  

This is wrong. Hope is not the child that cannot play with the big kids. Neither is hope a weak or feeble faith. Rather, it is a separate virtue and should not be thought of as if it is faith on a lesser level. Hope is different from weak faith and is distinct from the emotion of desiring something we love. It is a healthy member of the same family: faith, hope, and love. 

Of these three, hope is the least emphasized. Maybe under-emphasized is the better word. Perhaps you have noted that we are often encouraged to strengthen our faith and increase in our love. It is rare that our hope is the object of such exhortations. In comparison to its siblings, faith and love, hope is not highly prioritized or valued.

It is certain that faith is essential to salvation and our relationship with God. It is written:  Now without faith it is impossible to please God. For the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 TLV) 

Without a doubt, love is the greatest of these three virtues (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is the subject of the greatest commandments: to love God, to love our neighbors, our enemies, and to love the brethren like Yeshua loves us (Matthew 22:37-39, 5:43; John 13:34). No wonder we are often exhorted to grow in faith and love. But, again, what about hope?

What About Hope?

Like faith and love, hope can be strengthened. In fact, we can be equipped to hope, and our hope can increase. In the same way the believing community can be inspired to grow in faith and love, so the Messianic Community can be motivated to grow in hope. 

We are to build others up in their faith and stir others up to love. So, also, each of us can be a messenger of hope. We can help others embrace hope through demonstrating a hopeful lifestyle and offering Biblical counsel.

Why bother?

To cultivate the desire to grow in hope it may help to sharpen our understanding of what it is. Let’s investigate what hope means.  I believe God is restoring content to words.  A right understanding makes them more potent.  The way most understand hope can be found in The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. That dictionary defines hope like this: 

“… To want something to happen or be true and to believe that it is possible or likely.”

That is not biblical hope.  Biblical hope is expectation that has its source in God.  Biblical hope is much different from wanting something to happen, or wanting something to be true, and believing it is possible, or likely. I cannot stress this enough, that is not biblical hope. 

Biblical hope refers to a confident expectation of something that is coming from God. It is not synonymous with wistful, wishful thinking. When the apostles and prophets wrote of hope they conveyed the feeling of certainty about a positive, desired outcome. Hope is future oriented. Hope is rooted in the nature of the God who acts according to His goodness.

Throughout the Scriptures, hope refers to eager anticipation. It is the word that describes a mental and emotional state. You experience hope when you wait for something you want to happen and are certain it is going to come to pass. Hope is certain, confident expectation.

That is how Paul used it.  Throughout these meditations we’re going to concentrate upon Romans 15:13…. 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).

Please reread Romans 15:13 with two expanded definitions of Hope:

Now may the God of certain expectation fill you with all joy and shalom in believing, so that you will abound in confident anticipation by the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.

Who is our God? He is the God of Hope. He is the Father from whom our expectation proceeds. He is the God who assures us of a glorious future. He is the source of all true certain expectation. It should go without saying that God totally expects His plans to come to pass. He is working toward that end.

Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 TLV)

He labors to bring to pass all of His purposes.

Truly I have spoken; I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. (Isaiah 46:11b TLV)

He looks forward to the good outcomes of all His plans. Jeremiah revealed that when the process is complete the God who inhabits eternity will rejoice.

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never turn away from doing good for them. I will put My fear in their hearts, so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will delight in doing good for them, and with all My heart and all My soul I will in truth plant them in this land. (Jeremiah 32:40-41) TLV

All believers agree with Paul who wrote, “Faithful is the One who calls you—and He will make it happen! (1 Thessalonians 5:24 TLV).”

Yes, Father is the God of certain expectation. Father is wise, skilled, powerful, and all-knowing. He is motivated by His love for us and, because He loves us, He is faithful. In the light of this reality let’s reread Romans 15:13.

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).

The Father wants us to fellowship with Him as the source of, and reason for, our expectation. The God of Hope wants us to overflow with confident anticipation by the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.

It is through direct contact with God that we are able to abound in expectation. The Ruach ha-Kodesh is very hands on. He is the one who hovers over chaos and actuates what the word God speaks. My understanding is that when the Father, through His Son, said, “Let there be… (Genesis 1:3,6,14),” the Ruach ha-Kodesh made it so. Our ability to trust and expect comes from the Ruach making it so.

Let’s grow in hope through relying on the Lord.

Please pray along the lines of Romans 15:13.

Abba, You are the God of Hope. Please fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I will abound in confident expectation by Your Ruach ha-Kodesh’s power, as I ask this.  In the name of Yeshua the Messiah.

I wrote a song from this verse. I encourage you to listen to it. You can access it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTg74t9mqqQ 

Shabbat Shalom, David.