Hope, as I have said before, is a product of faith. It feeds on it to be alive in every circumstance that presents itself. When hope is deferred, the soul is affected and the heart, too. The word deferred means to put off or drag out, as hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Prov. 13:12). One example of hope deferred is found in the life of Jacob, after he labored for seven years to marry Rachel, only to end up with her sister, Leah. Imagine the emotional pain he suffered! Seven years of hope and then been deferred is hard to swallow. That’s the hope that the world offers. Despair and anxiety with depression is often the fruit of a deferred hope. Man in his sinful nature, offers nothing that is not tainted with his sinful nature. Applying hope on the wrong dream, on the wrong person and on wrong things, often results in disappointments. We all have suffered from deferred hope embed in false promises from jobs, relationships, family and friends. Everything in this world that originates from man, is prone to be uncertain and deserving of wisdom on our part. In whom to believe? It is the question echoing in the voices of those depraved of hope, for having had bad experiences. If the hope we have is only on the physical world, we are most miserable and hopeless people, for hope that comes from God is hope that brings us joy, and peace. By believing in Him, His Holy Spirit will empower us to abound in hope (Rom. 8:24-25).
After a busy day teaching the multitude, YAHSHUA entered the city of Capernaum. From there, a Centurion’s servant was healed. Then He proceeded to a town called Nain. Nain was a small village in Galilee, located approximately four miles from Mount Tabor and twenty miles southwest of Capernaum. It was nestled in a beautiful region in Israel. Nain means beauty and pleasantness. The Mount Tabor carries a prominent role in the times of Joshua and Deborah. It is situated at the eastern end of Jezreel Valley, with the elevation at the summit of 1,886 feet high. It is a symbol of beauty according to Scripture in Jeremiah 46:18 and Psalms 89:12. As YAHSHUA enters that beautiful place, He is greeted with a funeral procession. Crying and sobs, hopelessness all in one tune reach His ears. A young man, the son of a widow, who depended solely on him for everything, lies cold in a coffin to the place where would not be seen no more. The crying of the widow moves YAHSHUA’S heart, and in a moment of hope, He says to her, Do not weep. Hope abounded in the heart of the widow, as she heard His voice. That was a voice of the Creator, comforting her with resurrection power. She had not heard that voice before perhaps, but the serenity and love echoing through His voice, she knew it was the voice of her Messiah, raising her from the ashes of sorrow and transporting her to the height of joy. Resurrection power took hold of her son and life entered him at the command of the One Who is the Resurrection and the Life!
Life is waiting; it is time divided by seconds, minutes and hours. All in the space that time allows in a clock to guide us as we wait for something. Waiting teaches us patience and maturity of our understanding; it teaches us to accommodate ourselves to the framed time we must wait. Waiting requires faith for one to be at peace in that period of time. There are many types of waiting; some not so urgent in its routine. But some others very much to the point of bringing us anxiety. It is a thing of the mind trying to control the situation. Usually, we expect the worst, believing whatever comes to mind. This kind of waiting destroys the well-being of the body, especially in area of the stomach, because of its root being fear embedded in worries. However, we must realize the importance of time and use it to do things unrelated to what we are waiting for. It is the time to exercise the muscle of faith, which is in great need to be made strong.
It was close to YAHSHUA’S last Passover, when He sent two of His disciples to a definite place to prepare it for His last Passover Super with them. He said, to them, go into the city, and a man carrying an [earthen] jar or pitcher of water will meet you; follow him. And whatever [house] he enters, say to the master of the house, The Teacher says: Where is My guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples? And he will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready; there prepare for us (Mark 14:13-15). He had come to the end of His earthly ministry and needed a time alone with those called apostles to warn and to teach them and to prepare them for the ministry He was leaving behind for them to continue. That was the time and place when YAHSHUA, alone with His disciples, ministered to them by washing their feet; the time when He constituted the new covenant of His blood; the time when He gave a new commandment- to love one another as He loved them; that was the time and the place where He uttered His priestly prayer for them and for us. There were many disciples who followed Him, but He chose only twelve to be His messengers. These were the ones He explained the meaning of the parables to, who experienced a deep relationship with Him as His friends, who experienced the mount of transfiguration, and who witnessed His anguish at the Gethsemane Garden in the crucial moment of His decision. The last words from YAHSHUA to His disciples were printed in their hearts to change yesterdays and today’s world. Peter’s life was changed from a coward to a courageous outspoken man for the sake of the message he was given to tell; The doubtful Thomas died as a martyr in India for obedience to go and preach to all the world the message of salvation. John died on the Patmos Island, after they tried to kill him by putting him a caldron with boiling water. All died as martyrs for their Messiah. Nothing would stop these disciples from taking a stand for their Master, after the upper room experience.
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, I beseech You, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before You in faithfulness and truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly (II Kings 20:2-3).
The Bible registers King Hezekiah as a good king. He walked in the way of the Lord. He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his [forefather] had done. He removed the high places, broke the images, but down the Asherim, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until them the Israelites had burned incense to it; but he called it Nehushtan [a bronze trifle]. He trusted in the Lord and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him. For he clung and held fast to the Lord and ceased not to follow Him, but kept His commandments, as the Lord commanded Moses; and the Lord was with Hezekiah; he prospered wherever he went…( II Kings 18:3-7a).
(Palm 23; John 10)
When we read Psalm twenty-three we see the beautiful love the Shepherd has for His sheep. In the course of the sheep’s life, He makes sure that they are well provided, protected and cared for. He makes sure that the life of His sheep is provided all the way into eternity. This is what a true sheep says about her Shepherd: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack. He is to His sheep their Living Bread, the Manna that came from heaven. Although Israel ate manna in the desert, they died. But the Manna that our Shepherd offers, produces life that is everlasting. YAHSHUA assured Israel that Moses did not give them the Bread from heaven, but it is His Father Who gives the true heavenly Bread; for the Bread of God, said YAHSHUA, is He Who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world; I Am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst anymore (John 6:32-34). That’s the standing promise to the sheep who has accepted YAHSHUA’S invitation.
After a long day of wandering, the Shepherd makes His sheep to rest. He makes sure that they lie down in soft cool grass, from where they receive not only their rest, but also their nourishment. It is a time of reflection, a time of healing, a time to converse with the Shepherd and hear what He has to say. Oftentimes His sheep spend their energy on things that are of no spiritual values. Sometimes they wander away, far from Him and feel lost in the confusion of their mind. The Shepherd calls them to rest and makes them to do so. It can happen through any means He chooses to do: It can come through prolonged disease or any other ways that will cause them to hear His voice and obey Him. After a restful time in His Word, He then leads them beside the quiet waters. We can never appreciate the quiet waters without first laying down at His feet to be nourished with the bread of life. The quiet waters are the ministry of His Holy Spirit. He came to comfort, to teach, to convict, to guide, among many other things. Our soul is restored with His presence. Our Shepherd then leads us in the path of sanctification for the glory of His name. The paths to sanctification include the hard and fearful valley of death. This is a must for every sheep of YAHSHUA to go through with Him. Fear will not be present in the heart because His presence supplies all they need to overcome the dreadfulness of the valley. The Shepherd uses His rod and His staff to defend, protect and to comfort His sheep. His rod is His weapon against danger that rises against them; it is also the means of discipline when a sheep wanders away from Him. The staff conveys concern, compassion and comfort. Phillip Keller, a shepherd himself, defines the difference of the two: he says, “Whereas the rod conveys the concept of authority, power, of discipline and defense, the staff speaks of longsuffering and kindness.” The presence of our Shepherd is key in bringing peace to our heart. When we are near Him we experience His peace and nothing in the world can destroy it. Philip confirms: “In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them at east as nothing else could do. Continuous conflict and jealousy within the flock can be a most detrimental thing. The sheep become edgy, tense, discontented, and restless. They lose weight and become irritable. But one point that always interested me very much was that whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior.” – Philip Keller
The word friend brings warmth to the heart that not even a fireplace in a cold winter could compete with it. It warms the soul of man with assurance and confidence in the person we consider a friend. A true friend overlooks many things for the sake of lasting friendship. But in spite of all that, there is no perfect friendship that will last a lifetime without disappointments and sometimes to the point of breaking the link of friendship chain. I am sure that all of us in one time or other have experienced betrayals in our relationship with a friend. King David testified of that in Psalm 55:12-14: For it is not an enemy who reproaches and taunts me- then I might bear it; not is it one who has hated me who insolently vaunts himself against me- then I might hide from him; but it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend;we had sweet fellowship together and used to walk to the house of God in company; and even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Ps. 41:9) Prophetic of YAHSHUA’S experience at the time of His ordeal fulfilled in John 13: 18 in YAHSUA’S own words: …I know whom I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats My bread with Me has raised up His heel against Me. YAHSHUA suffered the betrayal from one of His disciples, who were considered His friends. Judas, in spite of walking with YAHSHUA as His disciples, experiencing first-hand miracles and the supernatural for three years, had not set his heart to be His friend, because he hadn’t accepted Him as the Son of God. On one occasion, he criticized Mary for anointing YAHSHUA before His death. There was no room for anyone to do that, unless he was of the devil and was performing the deed of his father. As the son of perdition, He was available for Satan to enter him and perform the act of the betrayal of the Son of God. His heart was focused on doing that, even when there was the opportunity for him to repent at YAHSHUA’S warning.
Abraham’s wife was dead at the age of 127 years old. As it was the costume of those days for the parents to find spouses for their children, Abraham trusted his servant, Eliezer of Damascus, who ruled over all he had, to get his son a wife from his own relatives. So, it was that Eliezer by God’s providence found his son a wife, who was Abraham’s brother Nahor’s granddaughter and his grandniece. The Bible relates a beautiful picture of Isaac and Rebekah meeting at her arrival: It was at the time when Isaac went out to meditate and bow down [in prayer]. He looked up and saw that, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah looked up and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel, for she [had] said to the servant, Who is that man walking across the field to meet us? And the servant said, He is my master. So, she took a veil and concealed herself with it. And the servant told Isaac everything that he had done. Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s ten, and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death (Gen. 24:63-67). Isaac was then forty years old. They were married twenty years and without children. Isaac prayed much to the Lord for his wife, because she was unable to bear children; and the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah, his wife, became pregnant (Gen 25:21). God’s timing plays a very important role in the fulfilling of His promise, no matter how long it will take for it to be fulfilled. In the case of Abraham, it was not until twenty-seven years later, when he was then one hundred years old, that the Lord blessed him with the son of the promise. God blessed Rebekah with twin boys- a double blessing she did not expect. However, wanting to know why such a struggled within her, she went to inquire of the Lord. He revealed to her that two nations were in her womb, and the separation of two peoples had begun in her body; the one people shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger (Gen. 25:21-23). There, in His presence, she found the answer for her dilemma. Understanding the problem, her burden was not as heavy on her soul. As Rebekah experienced the lifting up of her burden in the presence of the Lord, we too can enjoy the relief of our troubles in His presence. It is there that we will experience peace, joy and healing. Psalm seventy-three shows the frustration the psalmist struggled with in relationship to the prosperity of the wicked. He said, But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped, for I was envious of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. A prayer away, is all that will take to understanding and relief from our struggles.
(Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9)
The great tribulation is a period of seven years reserved for the Jewish nation, when God will refine and redeem Israel. Daniel 9: 24-27, Zachariah 12-13). The Bible registers the period of seven years of tribulation in chapter 12 verse 1 of Daniel: And at that time [of the end] Michael shall arise, the great prince who defends and has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of straightness and distress such as never was since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the Book.
One cannot refute neither change the Word of God spoken through His prophets of old, who faithfully warned of disasters coming for this nation. This prophecy against Israel was also uttered by Moses even before they entered the Promised Land. We read in Deuteronomy 4:30 the following: When you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you in the latter days you will turn to the Lord your God and be obedient to His voice. The Prophet Zachariah echoes the words of Moses when he prophesized the tribulation and deliverance of Israel. Zachariah 12 and 13). And in all the land, says the Lord, two-thirds shall be cut off and perish, but one-third shall be left alive; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, It is My people; and they will say, The Lord is my God (Zachariah 13:8-9). And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. And they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one who mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of [city of] Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddo [over beloved King Josiah]. And the land shall mourn, every family apart…(Zachariah 12:10-12a).
The purposes and reason for the great tribulation are found in Daniel 9: 24: Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, (Israel (Judah) and Jerusalem) to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity and to bring in an everlasting righteousness and seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. Seventy weeks have been decreed for Israel, which started from the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until [the coming of] the anointed One, (YAHSHUA) a Prince, shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]; it shall be built again with [city] square and moat, but in troublous times (found in the history of the Jews when they returned from exile in the book of Nehemiah and Esdras). After the sixty-two weeks [of years] shall the Anointed One be cut off or killed and shall have nothing belonging to Him. (YAHSHUA died in the period of the sixty-ninth week [of years] which was the week of years before the final week of years of seventy weeks of years reserved for the Jewish nation) (Daniel 9: 24-26).
Faith, a thing that moves mountains, a thing that compels us to do the impossible, a thing that transforms and directs a life that embraces it, it is a thing that conquers the world. Faith is the assured feeling embed in hope and belief of the reality of things not seen, as if they existed. Faith is the force that keeps us persevering through it all in our pilgrimage on this earth. YAHSHUA, the Author and consummator of it, has given us a measure of it to uphold His promises for now and for the future. Our hope in Him is by faith that springs out from belief. There are many heroes and heroines of the faith that are suffering persecutions and many who have died for the faith in the true God. They have understood beyond doubt the true meaning of following the Savior, YAHSHUA. Their lives were and are true living sacrifices unto God, as they confessed and confess to the world that theirs is the heavenly citizenship. As those heroes and heroines of ancient times, today’s heroes and heroines of the faith, have provided the way for us to follow, carrying the torch of faith that will never be snuffed out, lightening the way for all to see beyond earthly stuff. It is a matter of our heavenly citizenship. Paul said, But our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we eagerly wait the Savior, the Lord YAHSHUA Messiah (Phil. 3:20). As patriots, we love our mother land. It is a natural thing to get attached to it, for it is where our ancestors’ roots are established. We die for it in times of war; we measure no sacrifice to display the love we have for our country. It is an emotion that goes deep into our soul. However, our permanent home is in heaven, where life after death will continue forever in a sphere of holiness and beauty, one we have never experienced before, but long for. Our love for heaven then should be of greater esteem and devotion with readiness to give our life for it.