Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, July 3, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

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

Sat 3 July 2021 23rd of Tamuz, 5781 Parashat Pinchas

Nu 29:12-30:1 Jer 1:1-2:3 1 Co 6:9-20

Getting a Hold of Hope by David Harwood

This is the seventh time I’m including Hebrews 11:1 in this series of meditations. My desire is that the verse would powerfully impact you, after all, it’s a powerful verse. Please take a moment to meditate on it. 

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

Other versions try to get across the meaning of the Greek like this:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NAU, RSV) 

… faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NET) 

… faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the proof of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 LEX) 

… faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB) 

Faith is the substance, assurance, surety, realization, reality of what is hoped for.

Hoped for? Yes, that good thing which we expect is going to happen. That which we  joyfully anticipate we’re about to receive. That for which we are eagerly awaiting. 

No wonder we give thanks in advance. It’s like grace before a meal. This is often said:

“We thank You for what we are about to receive.”

Wait,” you may remonstrate, “the meal we’re about to eat is right in front of us. It’s ours.” Right, but you haven’t put it in your mouth yet. You anticipate eating it. Faith is the same thing, only – unlike the meal – you don’t see what you’re anticipating. Faith is the guarantee of what you’re about to receive.

Imagine being a child. Why, hope is like the day before your birthday, or the week before Chanukah. If you were like me you’d try to discover where the presents were hidden, find out what they were, and then anxiously anticipate getting the gifts.

I wish the translations of our Bible would include words like expectation, or anticipation, when speaking of hope. It reads so differently… It conveys a different emotion. I’m going to replace “things hoped for” with these words. Take a look:

… faith is the substance of joyfully anticipated things (Hebrews 11:1 TLV) 

… faith is the assurance of expected things (Hebrews 11:1a NAU, RSV) 

… faith is being sure of what we eagerly expect (Hebrews 11:1 NET) 

… faith is the realization of what is joyfully expected (Hebrews 11:1 LEX) 

… faith is the reality of what is eagerly anticipated (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB) 

Friends, in this verse we see that biblical hope does not exist without faith in God: He who answers, the God who redeems. When you have faith, hope necessarily follows. 

Two Doors

This next section is most likely the last time I’ll be trying to make a distinction between wishful thinking and hope. At least, I hope so (wink).

So, let’s explore Hebrews 11:1 a little more. I find the Amplified Version to be helpful. There, that verse is rendered, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for…” That is a surprisingly solid translation. It also lends itself to an easily accessible illustration. Let me share it with you.

According to Hebrews 11:1 we can make a simple analogy working with the idea of faith being like a receipt. 

The relationship of faith to hope, the synergy of faith and hope, can be illustrated like this: It’s like ordering something online. When you order something online a business transaction takes place. Your credit card has been accessed. There is a change of financial status. Immediately thereafter a receipt comes. You print it up or keep the receipt digitally.

When you see the receipt, the record of the transaction, you know you own what you purchased. You don’t have it in your possession, yet. However, you are certain that you own it. Then comes the waiting. You look for it to be delivered. If you should hear a truck stop near your home you might check to see if the awaited package has come. Even if it has not arrived the first time you check you keep looking, you don’t give up, you expect it to come.

Knowing what you ordered is yours, and that it is on the way, is faith. Looking for its arrival is hope.

Continuing to work with this simile, let’s consider two doors, the refrigerator door and the front door. If a person should print the receipt of what they’ve purchased they might use a magnet to attach the proof of payment to a refrigerator door. Whenever they look at the receipt they know they own what they purchased and that they will receive it. It is theirs and it’s on the way.

They affix the receipt to the refrigerator door and are drawn like a magnet to the front door to see it when it comes. They know it is coming; they are expecting it to arrive.

Let’s use this analogy and see if it works with Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the receipt on the refrigerator door of things you expect to receive at your front door. 

Faith is the tangible record of the purchase on the refrigerator door of things not yet possessed. 

So, go to your front door and look to see if it has arrived yet.

Another Door

Have you ever purchased a house? Those who have may remember signing paper after paper and finally transferring a down-payment to the sellers and taking on a mortgage that was already approved. Then comes the moment when you get the deed and the keys. After that, you make your way to the house and it becomes your home. You put the key in the lock and go through the front door.

Biblical faith is when you have finished going through the purchasing process, signed the papers, received the deed and keys. Biblical hope is seen throughout this faith-process, but it is very evident when you’re driving to the new place. That is what you might call eager-expectation. The anticipation increases when you note that the key fits the front door. Possess what you own. 

I’ve been told that no analogies are perfect. I believe that about these. Yet, they may be helpful. If I’ve accomplished my goal you will always be able to distinguish between the virtues of faith and hope, see how they work together, and have some sort of emotional connection to biblical hope.

By the way, look at this: the same principle in Hebrews 11:1 is echoed in 11:6.

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) 

Faith believes that God exists and rewards. The reward is what is hoped for. The one who hopes is the person who eagerly expects the reward.

Hope is confident expectancy, dependent upon a foundation of faith. The stronger the faith, the stronger the hope.

Biblical Hope is expectation. Look at this verse:

My soul, wait in stillness, only for God— for from Him comes my expectation. (Psalm 62:5 TLV).

This verse calls us to intentionally expect.

Throughout the Scriptures hope is linked to eager anticipation, an expectation that is certain because God is faithful. Is it not written, Faithful is the One who calls you—and He will make it happen! (1 Thessalonians 5:24 TLV)? It is written, and it is so.

When you hope, you are waiting for something to happen which you’re sure is going to happen. That is how Paul understood hope. This hope comes from God. Please reconsider 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).

To which I add my prayer. 

Adonai, please grant me enabling favor to trust You more than I do. 

If you prayed that prayer, and trust God will answer it, then look for the increase. Your looking for the increase is the exercise of biblical hope.

Please pray:

Abba, I have placed my hope in You. My expectation comes from You. I request that as I trust You, You would fill me with triumphant anticipation through Your Spirit’s power. 

In the name of Yeshua, Amen.