Israel’s True Tikvah
Where was he? It was many years ago, before the cell-phone era. I had scheduled an appointment for lunch with a friend and had arrived at the restaurant. After scanning the area and seeing no sign of him, I took a booth and waited.
Soon our meeting time had come and gone. Frequently I would stand up and survey the area, hoping to see him. Twenty minutes passed. Why didn’t he show up? Was he okay? Then I thought, Patience. Give him time. He’ll be here. He always keeps his word. He always shows up. Maybe he’s stuck in traffic or something. I’ll just wait and watch for him. Soon 30 minutes had passed. I was convinced he was a no-show. He said he would come, and he didn’t. I was there; he was not. Disappointed, I got up to leave.
Today many Jewish people know the disappointment of a no-show. Their meeting was set up by God Himself to bring Israel and the Messiah together. According to the Jewish Scriptures, this meeting will usher in a wonderful era of peace and prosperity. It will bring a divine Kingdom on the earth. It is of such importance, in fact, that it is often referred to as Israel’s hope.
From the time of Moses (the Law) and later through the prophets, God revealed the details of this appointment. He gave its location and time and described the One the Jewish people were to meet: He would be greater than Moses and would rescue Israel in its time of great need. So clear was the description that many rabbis called this person the King Messiah. To meet him, God’s people needed to watch and wait constantly.
This they did, especially when times were the most difficult. They looked for him during the agonizing years of the Roman occupation of their land in the first century A.D. They looked for him as the hoofbeats of the Crusaders’ horses thundered through their villages in the 11th through 13th centuries and the Jewish people became victims of terror and death. They looked for him while they were being massacred in the pogroms of Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. They looked for him when Adolph Hitler murdered 6 million of them during World War II in his quest for a Jew-less world. And they looked for him in 1948, as five Arab nations attacked the newborn State of Israel with the intent of sweeping the Jewish nation into the Mediterranean Sea.
With each subsequent war, they looked, waited, and hoped. Today they still wait, while a proliferation of voices scream ever louder for the eradication of the Jewish people and the disembowelment of the Jewish state.
Yet the Jewish people have good reason for such hope—for such tikvah, in Hebrew. The One for whom they wait is depicted clearly in the Jewish Scriptures, which describe Him so people will recognize Him when they see Him.
So Where Is He?
Why hasn’t He come? Has God forgotten His promise? Has the hope of Israel turned to despair? Should the Jewish people simply give up and move on?
That is what I was about to do in that restaurant. Yet a funny thing happened. As I stood up to leave, directly behind me, at the same time, my friend also stood up. Without knowing it, we had been sitting back to back. He was watching the restaurant’s front entrance for me, as I watched the rear entrance for him. We were there together all the time. We just did not know it.
For Bible-believing Christians, Christmas is a wonderful time to be with family and friends and to celebrate the birth of the One who came 2,000 years ago, just as God promised He would. For Jewish people, Christmas is the day to take in a first-run movie and take out Chinese food. There is no cause to celebrate. Yet in the future, the hope of Israel will be realized when Messiah returns in great power and authority. Then “they will look on Me [Jesus] whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son” (Zech. 12:10). Then they will finally realize, just as my friend and I did, that they were simply looking in the wrong direction. And He was there all the time.
As you celebrate the birth of your Savior—the King Messiah and Hope of Israel—take a moment to pray for your Jewish relatives and friends. Ask the Lord to help them realize their Hope, too, has been there all the time.