The Biblical Meaning Of The Word Hope

– by Gerrie Bester

Many times, words lose value and become nothing more than mere utterances or religious concepts because we repeat them so many times. Let us take a word like hope. “I hope I get the job”, “I hope we have good weather at the beach tomorrow” or “my hope is in the Lord.” Are these even worth mentioning in the same breath? If Hebrews 11:1 teaches us that our faith is the “substance of things hoped for…”, it is then detrimental for us, to understand the true Biblical meaning of the word hope, as it is the substance of our faith by which we are saved (Ephesians 2:8).

The Hebrew imagery
The Hebrew language, in which the largest part of the Bible was originally given to us by God, is a “picture” language in which God paints a vivid understanding of His heart and salvation plan for us. It is also a language of action and not mere philosophical definitions of religious talk. It is a language that requires our action to follow our faith or else it will remain meaningless (James 2:14-17).  

What is the true picture that God paints in His Word of hope?
The Hebrew word, translated as hope in English is the word “Tikvah.” Tikvah is, first of all, the picture of a cord, woven together. This Hebrew word does not describe something abstract or out of reach for us, but paints a strong visual picture of a cord to which we can hold on to. But there is so much more to this picture.

Hope – an umbilical cord?
Tikvah is not just any cord but, is primarily the picture of an umbilical cord, or lifeline of a developing child. Why would God compare the hope that we are to have in Him to an umbilical cord? When we look at the three main functions of an umbilical cord, we see this picture of hope come alive!

The umbilical cord circulates and supplies
Firstly, the umbilical cord circulates and supplies blood and oxygen to the child as the child has no lungs of its own yet. There is no other way to breathe. The Word of God teaches us that the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). How do we live without our hope being in Him alone?

The umbilical cord feeds
Secondly, the umbilical cord feeds the child as God’s Word feeds us as His children with hope (1 Peter 2:2). We are called to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). First we taste, then only do we see!

The umbilical cord removes impurities
Thirdly, it removes impurities from the growing child. The Word of God teaches us that His Word is like water that cleanses us (Ephesians 5:26).

What does this mean?
The Word teaches us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Romans 10:17), and faith is the substance of the things we hope for (Hebrews 11:1). Then the substance of our hope lies in holding on to the promises of God. It is like an umbilical cord is to a baby, the only thing that can give us true hope and life. Holding on to His promises no matter what my circumstances may look like.

When does the Bible talk about this?
The first time the word Tikvah appears in the Bible is in Joshua 2 where the two spies are sent to Jericho. Their lives were saved by a harlot named Rahab (Rahav in Hebrew) when she hid them. Rahav in Hebrew means “to be full of pride”. When we are full of pride, we so quickly fall into spiritual adultery as we feed the carnal, as opposed to seeking God’s will in situations. In Rahab’s conversation with the spies, you realise that she had heard about this God of Israel, but never encountered Him. She asks them to pray and show kindness to her and her family.  

A sign of faith
She desired to embrace faith in the living God of Israel. As a symbol of her hope of life, she hung a scarlet rope from the window (Joshua 2:21) on the wall of Jericho. The Hebrew word used for this scarlet lifeline of Rahab is the word Tikvah. Her hope of being given life by the living God of Israel. We know that the walls of Jericho came down and all that remained was the house of Rahab – she lived!

Why was this a scarlet cord?
God wants to teach us that when everything around us seems to fall apart, our Tikvah should always remain in Him – then we will see the God of the impossible move in our lives. Why was this a scarlet cord? Be on the lookout for my article next month – as this mind-blowing picture unfolds!


JOY! Magazine (October  2018)

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