Are you familiar with the word in the title of this article? HaTikvah is the contemporary Hebrew for the hope.” It is also the title of the Israeli national anthem. Ironically, these days don’t seem very hopeful to many Israelis, or to many others for that matter.
These are perilous times. War in the Middle East. The global economic crisis. The threat of a nuclear Iran. The world is gripped by a storm, and the storm is not likely to abate any time soon. Though we might see occasional, momentary breaks in “the weather,” the Scriptures tell us that the storm will ultimately rage out of control. All around us, men and women will be reduced to utter despair and absolute hopelessness. We believers in Yeshua (Jesus) have the only genuine word of hope in the midst of this storm.
We don’t need a global crisis to remind us of that truth. I remember visiting a young Jewish woman named Leslie some years back. She was dying. The doctors told her that she had perhaps another month to live. As I sat at her bedside in the hospital room, she asked, “Can your Jesus heal me?”
“If He wants to,” I said. “But you know, that’s such a minor miracle.”
Leslie was startled. “How is that a minor miracle?” she asked.
“Because you’re still going to die someday, and so will I. But there’s another miracle, a major miracle, that Yeshua always performs, provided we ask Him.”
“What miracle is that?” she asked.
“He’ll forgive our sins and give us the gift of eternal life.” I went on to explain how Jesus the Messiah died for our sins and then rose from the dead, just as Moses and the prophets had promised. And then I told her, “If you ask Him to forgive you, He will. And then, if you ask Him to heal you, perhaps He’ll grant you another 40, 50 or 60 years to live for Him here. Or, perhaps He won’t, and you’ll die in a short while. But if you die soon, I’ll be jealous.”
Again, she was startled. “Why would you be jealous?” she asked.
I managed a faint smile. “Because you’ll see Him before I do.”
Leslie prayed and entrusted herself to the Lord. Jesus chose not to heal her and, after a month, she was with Him.
Why am I telling you this? Because when Leslie needed hope, all she got were platitudes, protests or empty promises from well-meaning, grieving non-believers who knew their words carried no weight, but who had nothing else to say. It took a believer in Jesus to give Leslie a genuine word of hope.
When I consider the current storm our world faces, I think of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, on the deck of a sinking ship on his way to Rome. Others had exhausted every human measure in their efforts to rescue themselves so that “. . . all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.” (Acts 27:20). At that point Paul offered a genuine word of hope: “. . . you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. . . . Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:21, 22, 25).
All around us, men and women are desperately clinging to “ships” that they hope will bring them to a safe harbor: the ship of political solutions; the ship of economic upswings; any ship that might deliver them from the storms of their private lives. They need to know that all these ships will ultimately sink, but they needn’t perish if they put their trust in the Lord.
We Jews for Jesus have a hope. We have an anchor for our souls. We have a rock and solid ground upon which we can stand, and against which no tempest can prevail, no matter how fierce the sea, wind and waves. We have Yeshua, the true HaTikvah, and the only Hope. And our people need to hear.
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.