“For You are my hope, O Lord GOD… By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You.” (Ps. 71:5-6)
Introducing our first grandchild,
Liam Jacob Lash. Liam means “Strong Protector.”
8 lbs; 19 inches Born on Aug. 4, 2016 at 1:27 am.
Shalom in the Hope of Israel,
As we enter the Hebrew month of Elul (eh-LOOL) on September 4, 2016, the Lord is leading us to focus on HOPE. This is a positive message to help us prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days that begin with Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) on October 2, 2016. Hope is sweet. Given all the bitterness in our world, hope is like a refreshing breeze sent from the throne of God.
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Synonyms for hope include aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, and design. The word for hope in Hebrew is tikvah (teek-VAH). The verb “to hope” is yachal (yah-KHAHL), which literally means “to wait or to have expectation.” One of our favorite worship songs, based on Psalm 62:5 and recorded by Marty Goetz, expresses this idea of hope: “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for from Him is my expectation.” We find our hope in the Lord.
Hope in a Merciful God
The Psalms are filled with messages of hope, especially hope in the mercy and steadfast love of God. Receive the following verses as a kiss from God to your spirit: “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24). “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18). “For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God” (Psalm 38:15). “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7). “For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5). Pray about making “You are my hope” your confession this month: Attah Tikvati (ah-TAH teek-vah-TEE). You will make God smile. “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11).
Hope in God’s Word
The Word of God is a major source of hope for His children. Many verses in Psalm 119 refer to this hope: “My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word” (Psalm 119:81). “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word” (Psalm 119:114). “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word” (Psalm 119:147).
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the congregation in Rome, confirms a continued reliance on the Word of God as a source of hope, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Hope for the Hopeless
Our God specializes in this. When things seem dark, dead, fruitless, and without hope, the Lord appears, whispers encouragement, and instills faith. Consider Naomi in the Book of Ruth. She had no hope of a legacy for herself or her daughters-in-law as an elderly, poor widow returning to her homeland. She said to Ruth and Orpah, “Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown?…” (Ruth 1:12-13). A hopeless situation in the natural. BUT GOD. He encouraged Ruth to go with Naomi, led her to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, and brought forth from their descendants the future Hope of Israel—Yeshua, the Messiah.
In Ezekiel chapter 37, we read about a Valley of Dry Bones, dry and dead. The Lord identifies the bones to the prophet, “…Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’” (Ezekiel 37:11) BUT GOD. He commanded Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, and breath came into them, and they became alive. In fact, they “stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (vs.10).
Israel had been without hope, but God had a plan to bring His People back from death to life and establish them in the land of Israel (vs. 12). God still has a plan for His People. We will be part of it when we go there in November on Mercy Mission 2016.
Hold Onto Hope
Hope can be like a rope that is thrown to a drowning man to hold onto so that his rescuer can get him to safety. An interesting form of the Hebrew word for hope is used in Joshua 2:18 in place of the English word “cord” or “line.” Rahab had made the Israelite spies promise that when they conquered Jericho, she and her family would be spared since she had hidden them from their pursuers. The spies told Rahab that they would not have to honor this oath “…unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window…” The Hebrew word used for “line” in this verse is tikvat, giving the scarlet cord a connotation of hope.
We have a “scarlet cord” that we can hold onto, that gives us hope as well—the blood of Yeshua. Because of His sacrifice for our sin, we became children of God, and because all the promises of God in Him are ken v’amen (Yes and Amen) to us, we can hold onto powerful promises such as the ones that follow: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (tikvah)” (Jeremiah 29:11). “There is a hope (tikvah) in your future, says the LORD, that your children shall come back to their own border” (Jeremiah 31:17). “For there is hope (tikvah) for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant” (Job 14:7-9).
This last verse brings our new friend Devorah to mind. She is 86 years old and a survivor of the Holocaust. Her entire family was murdered by the Nazis. She personally endured horrible atrocities. When we met her in July, she was without hope. Alone. In pain. Abandoned. Her doctor, a friend of ours, had called and asked if we would visit Devorah. (We occasionally get “referrals” like this from doctors.) It “just so happens” that Devorah lives in our over-55 community. Devorah was thrilled that we came to see her, but she thought we were from a “Jewish agency.” Neil told her that her doctor had sent us because Neil is a “spiritual doctor,” and that we had come to talk to her about God. First, we let Devorah tell us her story. We listened to her heart for about an hour. Then, we prayed for her physical healing. Something happened that had never occurred before in our over 40 years of ministering to Jewish people. Devorah started to pray out loud, saying, “God, please listen to the prayers of Neil and Jamie.” Very unusual and very sweet.
We knew at that point that Devorah was not bitter toward God. (Many are.) Neil explained about Messiah, shared the Good News, and Devorah prayed with him to receive the Lord. We are following up by visiting and reading the Bible to her, since her eyesight is failing. Devorah is no longer “hopeless.” She has the hope of heaven (Psalm 16:9).
Song of Hope
The next time we visit Devorah, we plan to read a word of encouragement to her from Psalm 42:5. This same word is repeated with slight variation in Psalm 42:11 and Psalm 43:5. “Why my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? And why are you disquieted within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (NIV).
To help Devorah and all of us remember this verse, and command our souls to put our hope in God, we want to share something we learned over 30 years ago but had forgotten until we started researching hope. It is a little chorus, sung to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Sing the words below to that familiar children’s tune, and, at the very least, you’ll have a good laugh:
Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God. (2x)
With a “Why?” “Why?” here and a “Why?” “Why?” there.
Here a “Why?”; There a “Why?”; Everywhere a “Why?” “Why?”
Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God.
Messiah Our Hope
While the Tanakh definitely establishes the fact that God is a God of hope, the Brit Hadasha speaks about a “better hope” through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19). This “better hope” is identified as a person—our New Covenant High Priest—Yeshua HaMashiach—who is also the guarantor of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22).
When Rabbi Saul (Paul) writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, he says that he is an apostle of Yeshua HaMashiach, “by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach, our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). The Apostle Peter also refers to Messiah as our hope, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Messiah Yeshua from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The Apostle goes on to say that we have an imperishable inheritance which is in heaven for us. Our hope is an everlasting hope, an eternal hope. Because our Messiah lives, we too shall live. We have the hope of eternal life because Yeshua is the Resurrection and the Life. In Him, we live forever (John 11:25).
We have hope as an anchor for our soul. This is beautifully expressed in the Book of Hebrews, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Yeshua, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Our soul is secure in our Savior. No matter what storms come our way, we have an anchor that holds firm on earth and in heaven. Yeshua, our sure and steadfast Anchor, is in the very Presence of God, interceding on our behalf.
Hope for the Gentiles
There was a time when Jews alone had the knowledge of the one, true God. He chose them as a people for Himself and gave them His Law at Mount Sinai. The New Covenant, promised by God through the prophet Jeremiah, was only for the House of Israel and the House of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31). The early disciples were shocked when God received the Gentiles into the kingdom (Acts 10:45, 11:18). But Yeshua had told them that His Father had a plan for the Gentiles as well, “And other sheep I have [the Gentiles] which are not of this fold [Jews]; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
The prophet Isaiah had also prophesied hope for the nations (goyim—goy-EEM), referred to in the Book of Romans, “There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope” (Romans 15:12). Rabbi Saul (Paul) reiterated the calling of the Gentiles in Colossians 1:27, “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Messiah are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Messiah lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory” (NLT). The King James Version says it this way: “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Finally, we read in Ephesians chapter 2 about the glorious hope of Jews and Gentiles as one in the Messiah, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh…that at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one…” (Eph. 2:11-14).
The “Blessed Hope”
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Yeshua HaMashiach…” (Titus 2:11-13). The “blessed hope” is the coming of the Lord Yeshua for His bride. Our Heavenly Bridegroom told His talmidim (tahl-me-DEEM) that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and would come again to receive them (us) to Himself (John 14:2). If His coming again follows the pattern of the Feasts of Leviticus 23, we should be looking for the “blessed hope” of Yeshua’s return during the fall holiday season. A shofar blast will announce His return. It could be this Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets).
Is the bride ready for the return of the Bridegroom? We heard an anecdote by Don Finto years ago explaining that, when he looked at the condition of Yeshua’s Body today, he couldn’t imagine how we could be ready in time for Messiah’s return. He thought about the weddings he had officiated at, and recalled that many times, an hour or two before the wedding, the bride was still in shorts with curlers in her hair. Somehow, miraculously, she walked down the aisle a vision of beauty and perfection. His conclusion: Brides can be made ready very quickly! May it be so for Yeshua’s bride.
A Final Hope
Jamie hopes—desires, expects, plans—that her second book on the Song of Songs will be ready soon. Kiss Me Again is in the final editing stages. It is a devotional/Bible study over 250 pages long, with an expansive Hebrew glossary. An excerpt from Day 63 deals with hope: “There is no one but Yeshua who can give hope to the hopeless. He is Mighty to save—from the deepest pit, the greatest danger, the strongest fear, or the vilest sin. Our chatan (Bridegroom) is Tikvah Yisrael, the hope of all who call upon His name. He gives us songs in the night, shelter in the midst of the storm, and a hope and a future when all seems hopelessly impossible. But nothing is impossible for the Chief among ten thousand!” (Comments on Song of Songs 5:10)
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound inhope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13
Love in Yeshua, our Hope,