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  • So, let's say you want to describe the feeling of anticipating a future that is better than the present.

  • You might be giddy, or excited, or maybe unsure.

  • But most of us know that experience.

  • We call it "hope".

  • It is a state of anticipation and it is crucial for healthy human existence.

  • And, it is a really important concept in the Bible.

  • In fact, there are many words for hope in the ancient languages of the Bible.

  • They are all fascinating.

  • In the Old Testament, there are two main Hebrew words translated as "hope".

  • The first is "Yakhal" which means simply "to wait for",

  • like in the story of Noah and the ark.

  • As the floodwaters recede, Noah had to "yakhal" for weeks.

  • The other Hebrew word is "Qavah" which also means to wait.

  • It is related to the Hebrew word "Qav" which means "cord".

  • When you pull a qav tight, you produce a state of tension until there is release.

  • That is "qavah", the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen.

  • The prophet Isaiah depicts God as a farmer who plants vines and qavahs for good grapes.

  • Or the prophet Micah talks about farmers who both qavah and yakhal for morning dew to give moisture to the land.

  • So, in biblical Hebrew, hope is about waiting or expectation.

  • But, waiting for what?

  • In the period of Israel's prophets, as the nation was sinking into self destruction,

  • Isaiah said, "At this moment, the Lord is hiding his face from Israel, so I will qavah for him."

  • The only hope Isaiah had in those dark days was the hope for God himself.

  • You find this same notion of hope all over the book of Psalms where these words appear over 40 times.

  • In almost every case, what people are waiting for is God.

  • Like in Psalm 130, the poet cries out from the pit of despair,

  • "I qavah for the Lord...

  • and let Israel yakhal for the LORD, because he's loyal.. and will redeem Israel from all its sins."

  • Biblical hope is based on a person which makes it different from optimism.

  • Optimism is about choosing to see in any situation how circumstances could work out for the best.

  • But biblical hope is not focused on circumstance.

  • In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognize there is no evidence things will get better.

  • But you choose hope anyway.

  • Like the prophet Hosea.

  • He lived in a dark time when Israel was being oppressed by foreign empires.

  • And he chose hope when he said, "God could turn this valley of trouble into a door of hope."

  • Like the day when Israel came up from the land of Egypt.

  • God had surprised his people with redemption back in the days of the exodus and he could do so again.

  • So, it is God's past faithfulness that motivates hope for the future.

  • You look forward by looking backward, trusting in nothing other than God's character.

  • Like the poet of Psalm 39 who says, "And now, O Lord, what else can I qavah for? You are my yakhal."

  • In the New Testament, the earliest followers of Jesus cultivated this similar habit of hope.

  • They believed that Jesus' life, death and resurrection was God's surprising response to our slavery to evil and death.

  • The empty tomb opened up a new door of hope.

  • They used the Greek word "Elpis" to describe this anticipation.

  • The apostle Peter said that Jesus' resurrection opened up a living hope

  • that people can be reborn into new and different kinds of humans.

  • More than once, the apostle Paul says, "The good news about Jesus announces the elpis of glory."

  • In both cases, the elpis is based on a person, the risen Jesus who has overcome death.

  • This hope wasn't just for humans.

  • The apostles believed that what happened to Jesus at the resurrection

  • was a foretaste of what God had planned for the whole universe.

  • In Paul's words, "It's a hope that creation itself will be liberated from slavery to corruption into freedom

  • when God's children are glorified."

  • So, Christian hope is old, waiting for humanity and the whole universe to be rescued from evil and death.

  • Some would say it is crazy.

  • And maybe it is.

  • But biblical hope isn't optimism based on the odds.

  • It is a choice to wait for God to bring about a future that is as surprising as a crucified man rising from the dead.

  • Christian hope looks back to the risen Jesus in order to look forward.

  • And so, we wait.

  • That is what the biblical words for hope are all about.

So, let's say you want to describe the feeling of anticipating a future that is better than the present.

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Word Study: Yakhal - "Hope"

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2017/12/08
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