Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tikvah (Hope)

What is Biblical Hope?

scarlet cord

For thou art my hope (tikvah), O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. (Ps. 71:5)

 

We typically think of hope as a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen. Unlike a wish or longing, hope implies expectation of obtaining what is desired. In Hebrew, hope is the word tikvah (teek-VAH). Strong’s defines it as a cord, expectation, and hope. It comes from the Hebrew root kavah meaning to bind together, collect; to expect: – tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

Did you notice the concrete idea of a woven cord? While hope in English is abstract, hope in Hebrew provides us with a strong visual. A bound cord, rope, or thread cannot only be seen with our eyes, but it is something we can grasp hold of with our hands. In other words, hope is something real enough that we can cling to it. Hope is not something out of our reach.

The first occurrence of the word tikvah in the Bible is in the book of Joshua in the account of the two Israelite spies and the woman Rahab of Jericho.

The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. (Jos. 2:17-18)

She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window. (Jos. 2:21)

While the Hebrew tikvah is used here in its literal sense as a “cord or thread”, it still gives us a picture of its figurative picture of hope. The scarlet thread was Rahab’s hope. It was her only guarantee that her household would be spared by the Israelites. Though the physical cord had been tied to ensure their safety, Rahab still had to WAIT for the realization of the spies’ promise.

This is where the root of tikvah, kavah, becomes relevant to our understanding. We can typically relate to hope. But we too often forget that hope is rooted in waiting. Being patient and waiting for an expected thing or outcome is very difficult for the majority of us. We see numerous examples of Biblical heroes that struggled with “waiting”, sometimes with devastating consequences. Think about Abraham and Sarah’s impatience with producing an heir. They eventually agreed to use the surrogate Hagar that produced Ishmael. We still see the effects of their impatience today through Ishmael’s offspring, a persistent enemy of Israel.

So, the real question is how do we cling to hope? How do we keep from growing restless? How do we keep doubt from over taking us?

The truth is that we can cling to the hope we have in the promises of Elohim (God). Like grasping onto a strong rope, our hope is tangible and secure. Nevertheless, we must wait for their fulfillment and not grow weary. But what about the myriads of issues in our daily lives that do not have a direct reference of promise in Scripture; is our hope real when we are trusting that YHWH will intervene in these affairs?

Life isn’t black and white. There are many “grey” areas as we only see “dimly” most of the time. Our nature seeks certainty and absolutes no matter the issue or subject. Hope lives in the greyness and uncertainty of life; it can seem fuzzy. But, if we continue to cling to it, the sharp clarity of black and white will emerge into focus and with it the full technicolor of life. Yet, this realization isn’t why I’m writing. I want to be able walk steadily in the fuzzy grey path I currently find myself meandering.

Some of our travels and seasons on this journey of life with YHWH don’t make sense to our natural minds. What appears in the natural to be unfair, trying, or even wrong are in fact the very place He desires us to be. How else would learn to lean on our faith, trust, and hope in His promise to never leave us or forsake us? Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel that He has. But feelings aren’t a reliable gauge of truth. Feeling empty, dry, or deserted only causes us to cry out to the Almighty. When everything is hunky-dory we typically don’t cry out.

My family is in a place in the wilderness where we are continually crying out. It seems as if the desert is going to consume us… but this is where I must CHOOSE to see with spiritual eyes and stand on the promises of my MASTER. He really is in control. And if I can only relinquish my every anxiety over to Him, I will find that shalom I so desperately am seeking. If you are in a similar place of desperation, join me in taking courage although it seems the sky is falling all around you.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. (Ps. 27:14)

Even when the Word doesn’t speak directly to your situation or perhaps even appears contrary to a promise you’ve been standing on, know that YHWH is love. No matter the problem, issue, or situation, in the end His will and purposes ARE without a doubt being met. We must simply release our façade of control and be willing vessels no matter the cost.

This brings me to the question that I HOPE I can answer in the affirmative:

Can I let go of what I think is supporting me when I can’t see where I will land? Do I trust Him to catch me or throw me a rope?

There is a precious scarlet cord that runs not only throughout the Bible, but through each of our lives. But in order to see it, we must do just what I’ve been writing about. We must let it go of ourselves and tenaciously take hold of His rope. That is our only real HOPE.

I suppose my (and many other people’s) problem is the feeling (there’s that word again) that we aren’t worthy of being caught. We all know that we deserve nothing. Perhaps this limbo like desert is really a place of remembrance. We must remember what YHWH has already done in our lives. He is not a fickle Greek god. He is trustworthy and He changes not. This is what we must do when fear, doubt, and even restlessness tries to overtake our hope.

We must think about that tangible woven cord that was plaited just for us. Perhaps this is the very reason Rahab’s cord was the color red or scarlet. It is to remind us of our scarlet sins and the scarlet blood that washes them away white as snow. Like Rahab, we don’t deserve to be spared. We aren’t worthy, yet He still loves us. He still forgives us. We mustn’t try to force or work our way around our situation. Real hope waits on the Master to provide the way, all we have to do is walk as He leads.

Can we hold onto this hope in the midst of swirling chaos?

Categories: News Flash | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

The Bohemian Rhapsody Meets Oz, the Great and Powerful

THE-W-ZARD-OF-OZ-fairy-tales-and-fables-33210816-671-699My Recent Church Experience

A few months ago, I visited a local Christian church. It wasn’t a regular service time. I was there not for the purpose of worship or teaching, but to meet with a local charity planning committee. The church had agreed to allow us to use their facility as they are also partners in this particular humanitarian effort.

As it so happened, the worship team was in the sanctuary practicing for their Sunday worship service. We were meeting in the rather large atrium where small tables were assembled for pre-service coffee and fellowship. During our meeting, we could clearly hear the gifted voices and talented musicians caringly bellow out tunes of worship. It was as if our efforts were being joined together with a singing choir as we beseeched the King on how we could care for those in need. But then, the whole spirit changed. Literally.

Before I tell you what happened next, I must first give you a description of my surroundings. You see, it’s been a while since I’ve walked through the doors of a Catholic or Protestant church. For many years now, my family has attended home fellowships and Messianic synagogues/fellowships. Some of these have been more Hebraic or Jewish and others have been more Christian. So, perhaps I’ve been a little sheltered from the current mainstream church.

When I arrived at this particular church, the front doors welcomed me with what looked like carnival or circus carriages that housed wild animals. These were obviously props, but it was strange to say the least. When I pushed the doors open, I was astonished to find myself standing right in a very well done stage set for the Wizard of Oz! Under my feet lay the “yellow brick road”. Beside me was a giant tornado made from plastic drop cloths painted gray, black, and white that extended from the floor to the ceiling. (And the ceiling in the large atrium extended up at least 3 stories!)

My jaw must have dropped open because a young man approached me and began to explain my surroundings. I whirled around stunned by the grandeur of the display. A huge and carefully painted “Emerald City” lay before me where the meek little tables and chairs that we would soon fill were arranged. To my right was a magnificently colored hot air balloon and next to that was a giant green throne high and lifted up, obviously for Oz, the great and powerful.

I didn’t know whether to run, laugh, or cry. I reminded myself why I was there and politely took a seat at one of the tables. There, I had a view of everything that was behind me: life size black cut-outs of witches and brooms. I’m thinking, “THIS IS A CHURCH?!”

But then other volunteers began to arrive, so I settled on the task at hand. The worship team began their practice and we started the meeting. But then, what already seemed “bad” in my mind, got much much worse. The worship team stopped and then began again. But this time, they used their gifts and talents to belt out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!

Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of secular music outside the setting of worshipping God. And, I admittedly have in the past sung along to the Bohemian Rhapsody. However, even in my ignorance, I could never imagine singing this song unto the LORD. (Yikes!)

My first thought was that they must be doing a parody of the song by changing the lyrics to glorify God. Boy was I wrong. Every word was annunciated with crisp clarity. Even this part:

Oh mama mia, Mama mia, Mama mia, Let me go!
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me! – For me! – For me!

REALLY? They’re really going to sing this verse glorifying Satan (Beelzebub; A.K.A. Lord of the flies) in a worship service that is meant to glorify YHWH?

My bewilderment must have been written all over my face. One of the volunteers turned to me and explained that she attends this church. Then she PROUDLY declared that they begin every service with a secular song. The week prior they had all sang a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. My expression must not have improved because she went on to explain how cool and awesome this was for new comers and truth seekers.

I began to scream… on the inside.

“Where am I?” I wondered. I drive by this normal looking protestant church nearly every day. I looked around the table. I seemed to be the only person there that was not only uncomfortable but grieved at the obvious pollution of truth. Instead of honoring YHWH the Most High and Awesome God, I found myself sitting feet away from the fictitious green throne of Oz, the great and powerful. Echoing in my ears was odes to Beelzebub. Yet, each “well meaning” Christian surrounding me was proud of this type of “outreach”.

What provoked me to write this article was a conversation in my ladies bible study this week. One of my dear friends (who had been told of my experience after it first transpired) told me that she heard that another church in our small town was also singing secular music during church services. But this case, as it turns out, is even worse. Their entire so called “worship” service is secular now. Those that want to hear real worship music can stay after service and the worship team will play for them. WHAT?!!! Play for them? Aren’t we supposed to be playing for YHWH in the first place?

So, I decided to vent today; sorry dear reader. One thing I did was look up the lyrics to the Bohemian Rhapsody. And this verse stood out as well.

Easy come easy go; will you let me go?
Bismillah! No we will not let you go! Let him go!

I discovered that bismillah means “In the name of Allah”. Wow, Queen really covered all the evil bases with this number. How many unwitting listeners (me included) have sang this song openly glorifying in one stanza Satan and Allah? I mean, is their worship team really this naïve? They had to READ the lyrics to sing the song. Even if they didn’t recognize bismillah or Beelzebub, they should have certainly known what a “devil” is, right?

So, I know you’re wondering if I called them out.
No. And here’s why. I fervently began to silently pray to the King of Kings on what He would have me do or say. What kept coming to my mind was this mantra, “I am a light, not a judge. I am a light! Not a judge!” After I left, I wondered why YHWH didn’t release me to speak my peace.

But as I meditated on the lunacy of the whole “show”, I realized that they would have never “heard” anything I had to say. Sure I could’ve propped myself up on a real high soapbox and declared my disdain and backed my proclamation with verse after verse of scripture that would prove YHWH agreed with me. But that sort of self-righteous attitude would have only proved their point. At least in their minds. Sometimes you just don’t cast your pearls before the swine. And NO, those precious souls aren’t swine. However, their actions are exactly that: mud wallowing! Very simply, they are not in place to hear — not yet.

I began a Google search on this phenomenon of secular music instead of worship music in the modern church. Apparently, it is all the rage. Opinions run high on both sides of the issue. On the one hand, people are convinced that they must bend over backwards to make those in the “world” feel right at home when they enter the church doors. If this means a little rock or pop, so be it. On the other hand, you have others that feel that this type of compromise can do more damage than good.

I must agree to the latter view. I honestly can’t believe that anyone who knows the Word and/or church history could ever condone such behavior — not in worship. That may sound harsh, and retractors are quick to bark that we are limiting God by denying this practice. Really? The Creator of heaven and earth is limited by us? I don’t think so, not even a little.

I suppose the real issue IS the heart as the retractors also claim. All that matters is the intent of our heart, right? Has anyone considered God’s heart? Do you really think He doesn’t care if you belt out tunes to satan or allah or sex or debauchery when you come to offer Him a sacrifice of praise? Somebody missed their reading of the Torah and the Prophets. YHWH does not change! He abhors mixtures, mingling of truth with lies, and unjust scales and measures. Even something He commands can become a stench in His nostrils if we do so with impure intents. Remember the serpent on the pole? What once healed the people later became an idol. And yes, it all started with good intentions.

Just because you slap the LORD (YHWH’s)/Yeshua’s name on something doesn’t make it good, right, or holy. Go and ask the Israelites about the golden calf! In their day and age, golden calves were all the rage. Everyone had seen one; perhaps they had even seen miracles take place near one. Go back and reread this account in Exodus. The Children of Israel didn’t declare the calf by another god’s name; they called it YHWH (the LORD)! Are golden calves alive and well in the church today? We are only fooling ourselves if we deny this fact.

What about Elijah? Wicked Jezebel MIXED the true worship of YHWH with the worship of Baal. So what did Elijah tell the people to do?

 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. (1Kings 18:21)

It’s not about what you and I like or even want. It’s about what YHWH desires. We don’t come before the King of the Universe and demand that we shall worship Him like the world or heathen nations. (Please read ALL of 2Kings 17) This behavior is the same thing as serving idols and baal. It doesn’t matter that you proclaim the LORD’s name while you do it; it is still an abomination whether you realize it or not. We don’t get to pick how we will worship God. He is the One who tells us how we are to worship Him. Doing what feels right or good to us … doesn’t mean God accepts it.

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Pr. 14:12)

The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Pr. 14:15-16)

Many people tend to forget that there are plenty of lying spirits that can make us feel good about ourselves or our practices. They can even perform miracles. The reason people are deceived is because they do not know the truth (the Word) well enough to discern error when they see it. So, because something makes them feel good, they believe it is from God or okay with Him. They forget that the real King of heaven and earth hates compromise.

Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; (Jer. 10:2)

Do we really think that we have to become just like the world in order to reach the lost? We might be in the world, but we are not “of” it. This church that I went to really believes that they must be like the world in order to gain the lost. They use secular music and movies as an outreach. As I sat there thinking about the vast expense and time that had been spent on the elaborate “Oz” set, all I could imagine is the impact they could have if their efforts had been centered on a biblical story. Why not use the Word to glorify God?

Now don’t get me wrong, YHWH can reach people in amazing ways and I know He does so through secular means all the time. But once we come to a so called “House of God” that is supposed to be “not of the world”, shouldn’t we expect to see a difference? Isn’t that what being holy or set apart is all about? In the verse below, Jesus (Yeshua) says the world loves their own. If the world loves us, what does that say about us?

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:19)

But after all of this writing, I now think that this problem is really just a symptom of the disease. We have turned away from the unadulterated truth and have become a business instead of a body. It’s a numbers and profits business, not a set apart body following the Master of the Universe at all costs. What I witnessed was pure and simply harlotry. (A body that sells itself for gain)

We must pray for the masses that are falling hook, line, and sinker for a counterfeit gospel that has its cup mixed full of abominations. After all, that’s what the enemy does. He mixes truth with lies or we would never believe it. His tactics are subtle. Evil rarely appears as obvious evil. Does it really matter? In the end, are we all going to join Queen in saying:

“Nothing really matters to me. Any way the wind blows.”

  I hope not.

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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