The people of Israel have a long history of difficulties, controversies and turmoil. Their enemies are relentless and have never stopped devising plans to destroy them. Presently, Iran is in the process of developing nuclear capability so that they can bomb Israel. At the same time individual Arabs who live around Jerusalem have gone on the attack by knifing Jews or driving cars into them.
On the surface, this picture does not look good. However, this is only a portion of the picture. One must widen their perspective and remember the God of Israel and His names. We must not focus on the circumstances but on who He is. God reveals His nature and character to His people through His many names. His names invite us to get to know Him. He has disclosed His names in Scripture. I am sure that the disclosure is meant to deepen our faith in God, His availability to us and His love for us.
One of Israel's greatest needs is for hope. Is it not also one of our greatest needs? Life presents us with difficulties that we feel unequipped to handle. At times we feel hopeless as we evaluate the challenges that are before us. God is well aware of these situations in our lives. Before time began, our all-knowing God recognized that His people would need an anchor for their souls, someone to trust and to turn to. He made Himself known through His name, Hope of Israel (Miqweh Yisrael).
Hope is intricately weaved with trust. Different versions of Scripture use these words together. "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 7:7-8-NIV) "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord." (Jeremiah 17:7 - NKJ)
The question arises in me: "How can we strengthen our hope in God (the God of Hope)?" I believe there are several ways to do this: The prophet Isaiah shows us the give and take between hope/waiting and strength. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength..."(Isaiah 40:31 - NIV) "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength..." (Isaiah 40:31 - NKJ) Waiting on God implies hope. We wait for God's perspective on our situations, and we hope in his faithfulness, which strengthens us.
God, the Hope of Israel, sent His son, Jesus Christ, as a picture of hope. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf..." (Hebrews 6:19-20) As we keep our eyes upon Jesus, our hope will be strengthened.
The Word of God is meant to give us hope. We read many stories of how God showed up for His people and saved them when they were in situations that looked impossible. Psalm 119:81 says, "My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your Word."
Worship is also meant to strengthen our hope in God. "You are holy, who inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted and You delivered them." (Psalm 22:3-4 - NKJ)
Meditate on God's names. They are ever before us to strengthen our hope. "I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good. I will praise You in the presence of Your saints." (Psalm 52:9) Those of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior have been grafted into the Olive Tree (Israel) and "now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root." (Romans 11:17) The Hope of Israel is our Hope. Strengthen your hope.
Joan E. Mathias