Does anyone else get really excited when you learn a new Hebrew or Greek word, and it causes a word you’ve always known to suddenly pop with new depth, new richness?
I have a Hebrew word for us. It is perhaps a Hebrew word for 2021.
The word is tiqvah (teek-VAH). It is one of multiple Hebrew words that is translated into English as the word “hope.” Each of the Hebrew words has a slightly different connotation or word picture with it. We’re going to look at tiqvah.
Let’s dive into some examples of where tiqvah is used. Wait for the “aha” moment. I promise it’s coming.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a tiqvah.”
“For you, O Lord, are my tiqvah, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”
“For God alone, O my soul, waits in silence, for my tiqvah is from him.”
These verses show us things we as believers all know. There’s nothing new here. God gives us hope. He is our hope. Our hope is from him.
Wait for it.
Joshua chapter 2:17-21 (The Israelite spies are talking to Rahab.)
“Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet tiqvah in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, ‘According to your words, so be it.’ Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet tiqvah in the window.”
Do you see it?
The word we translate into English as cord or rope is the same word used in these other verses! Rope and hope are the same word??
What an incredibly powerful image. For Rahab, that scarlet rope was her only hope. Without it, she and her family would be destroyed. I wonder how many days that scarlet rope hung in her window before the Israelites attacked her city. How many times a day did she look at that rope, waiting. The hope of that rope was all she had.
If I think about hope being a rope, I picture each of as humans swinging through the jungle of life from one vine or rope to another. And I wonder what ropes we are swinging towards in 2021?
We are hoping the vaccine will work.
We are hoping there won’t be horrible unknown side effects to the vaccine.
We are hoping these new strains of COVID don’t mean we’re starting this whole cycle over again.
We are hoping borders will open again soon.
We are hoping our finances will be secure.
We are hoping things will be back to “normal” by summer.
We are hoping for travel, and big parties, and hugging people we haven’t hugged for so long.
We are hoping for a lot of things in 2021.
But here’s the thing. Anyone of these tiqvahs, these ropes, could snap. And if we’ve swung our whole weight onto that rope, where does that leave us?
I’m guessing and knowing that many of us had some ropes snap in 2020. Things we were counting on. People we believed in.
Crisis snapped expectations.
Change snapped normalcy.
Conflict snapped relationships.
Betrayal snapped friendships.
Failures snapped confidence in others and ourselves.
There was a lot of snapping that happened in 2020.
So where does that leave us right now? What posture do we currently have? Are we swinging towards the next rope? What will happen if that rope snaps?
We can keep swinging, grasping for one thing, then the next, ever fearful of crashing down, down into the great abyss.
Or… we can stop, look up, and realize there is a rope that has us. THE tiqvah. The rope that is permanently harnessed around each one of us. Unsnappable. There is no falling. For each one of us as children of God, there is no falling. We have everything we need in him.
That is the great blessing of having our other ropes snap. It’s horribly painful. And frightening. We feel like we’re falling. It seems certain there could never be anything good about this. But if we move through the entanglements of bitterness and resentment and fear, we find ourselves hanging by our only hope.
There is a space of intimacy with the Trinity that comes only when our other ropes have snapped, when we’ve stopped putting our weight onto other ropes. We find that only this rope, only this hope does not disappoint.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The Greek word for “poor” means “utterly destitute.” After learning the meaning of tiqvah, when I read “Blessed are the poor in spirit” I picture someone who is hanging by one rope, harnessed in, and hands free. All other ropes have snapped.
Jesus looks at that person, he looks at you, and says, “Blessed are you, poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
What ropes of yours snapped in 2020?
Do you feel like you are falling, stuck in the entanglements, swinging towards the next rope or hanging in the intimacy?
P.S. If anyone is interested in learning more about hope and the other words that we translate as “hope” from Hebrew and Greek, my husband Aaron is preaching a sermon on hope this Sunday. It will be live here on Sunday at 11am EST and available after. It’s been really fun to collaborate together on this topic with him.