Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, July 10, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

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

Sat 10 July 2021  1st of Av, 5781 Parashat Matot-Masei Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

Nu 35:9-36:13 Nu 28:9-15 Isa 66:1-24 Jas 4:1-12

Hope 6: The Reward is The Result by David Harwood

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) 

Our God can be pleased, and it is not a burdensome task. We are encouraged to try to learn what is pleasing to God. It is part of the believer’s lifestyle.

trying to learn (discerning HCSB) what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:10 TLV) 

Yeshua always pleased God.

I always do what is pleasing to Him. (John 8:29b TLV) 

Paul sought to please Him.

Am I now trying to win people’s approval, or God’s? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Messiah. (Galatians 1:10 TLV) 

He prayed that the believers would please God. 

to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects (Colossians 1:10a TLV) 

One of the first examples of someone who pleased God was Enoch. This is the Scriptures testimony: it is written that he pleased God.

By faith Enoch was taken so as not to see death, and he was not found because God took him. For before he was taken, he was commended as pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:5 TLV) 

Note the next verse. It is the foundational verse of this series.  It has encouraged multitudes:

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) 

Enoch did not see death. This prefigures the enviable expectation of the Messiah’s followers.

We wait for the blessed hope and appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua. (Titus 2:13 TLV) 

I’d like us to examine Hebrews 11:6 in detail. The Ruach ha-Kodesh determined that it would be known throughout the ages that God rewards those who seek Him and His help. It’s an important verse. Here it is, again:

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) 

This almost sounds like a Made-in-America heresy: God rewards those who please Him.This is not a North American innovation. It’s a principle revealed from ancient times. Even in a most dreaded set of circumstances, as in Job, we find that ultimately a sufferer who pleases God will be rewarded. Our Messiah pleased God when He offered Himself up to become a curse on our behalf. Did the Father respond and reward Him? Yes, He did. 

God rewards those who seek Him. We believe it. However, it certainly did not seem, by this standard and in this life, as if Yeshua was pleasing to God. He looked accursed.  The lesson is that appearances can be deceiving.

By the way, if nothing ever works out for the good for us in this life we hold fast the confession of our hope: Ultimately, everything will be favorably resolved. There shall be the resurrection of those made righteous, and their good deeds will be rewarded with everlasting results. Those who believe the Bible are sure of this. When shall this happen? The timing corresponds to the Messiah’s return. No wonder it’s called the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13 TLV).

What does Hebrews 11:6 communicate when it states unequivocally that God rewards those who seek Him? What is the background to the word translated reward?

The Greek word translated “rewarder” is used to describe an employer who pays his employees. It is too much to get into in this format, but it seems to me that sometimes our Bible translators tend to use loftier language than is warranted. These euphemisms can take away from the sense of the writers’ intentions.

The Greek (μισθαποδότης – misthapodotēs) simply means one who pays wages. Those who believe that God exists, and seek Him, can expect the equivalent of a salary. God is a salary-payer. This word can be translated “a rewarder” but that seems to take away the nuance of the righteousness inherent in the relationship. The result of believing that He is, and seeking Him, is that there is, in fact, a result. We are to expect the result of our action prompted by faith: seeking Him. 

The root of this word is misthos (μισθός). It is often translated wages. As a root it is used to describe a day laborer, or a hired hand, who gets paid. 

The following are examples of where it is used in the Septuagint and the Apostolic Writings.

In the Septuagint it describes the portion, or compensation, of the Levites from Israel’s tithes, or a worker’s pay.

You and your household may eat it in any place. It is your wage for your service in the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 18:31 TLV)

Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay you your wages. (Exodus 2:9 TLV) 

Here is a translation of the Septuagint concerning corruption in Israel.

Her leaders used to judge in exchange for gifts, and her priests used to answer in exchange for a wage (Micah 3:11a) 

Peter wrote of the wages of unrighteousness using the same word.

They have followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. (2 Peter 2:15b TLV) 

In Paul’s exhortation concerning the remuneration of elders he quoted this principle from the Messiah:

the worker is deserving of his wage.. (Luke 10:7b; 1 Timothy 5:18b TLV) 

Can a laborer, who has done the work, righteously expect to receive wages? Yes, and Hebrews 11:6 states plainly that God is a righteous employer.

Expect to get paid. Look forward to the reward. When you do you experience hope. Your hope will be rewarded.

Here’s a question: How much faith does one need to please God? My answer is that it’s a very low level of trust: the one who pleases God believes that He is, and that seeking Him pays off.

Let’s get a little personal here… Do you believe God exists? I’m sure you do. Do you trust that He rewards those who seek Him? In theory, every theist does.

The inner attitude that pleases God is the synergy of faith and hope. The expectation of receiving the result of seeking God is biblical hope.

Faith: He definitely exists and can be found.

Hope: looking for the reward promised to those who seek Him.

Perhaps Paul was inspired by this bold proclamation made in the middle of horrible circumstances. 

Adonai is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:25 TLV) 

In the Hebrew, “those who wait” translates a word which has the sense of hope in it. If you wait expectantly you will ultimately see God’s goodness.

Here’s the principle. Seek Him diligently and expect an outcome to your search.

For it is time to seek Adonai, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12b TLV) 

Note the word “until.” Seek the Lord until He responds. Seek the Lord until you know that you have been heard and the answer is on the way. Then wait for it.

God is the one who recompenses those who believe that He is and seek Him. 

Hope for the reward; expect it. Anticipate the result; hope for it. After all, your God is the God of Hope. 

Faith believes that God exists and rewards. The reward is that which is anticipated (hoped-for). The one who hopes is eagerly expecting the reward. 

If you seek Him, you will find Him. As you find Him, He will answer you.

“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. 

“Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart. Then I will be found by you,” says Adonai, “and I will return you from exile, and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” says Adonai, “and I will bring you back to the place from which I removed you as captives into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11–14 TLV) 

Just take a moment and consider that pattern. Does it seem familiar?

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)