Asirey Hatikvah by Reuven ben Gershom
“Shuvu Levi'tzaron Asirey Hatikvah” - “Return to the fortress, O Prisoners of The HOPE”
Zecharyah - Zechariah 9:12
The phrase “Prisoners of The HOPE” is the theme and title of Zecharyah’s (Zechariah) address to the people of Israel. He opens his address in chapter nine with the message that the Elohim (God) of Avraham – Abraham, Yitzchak - Isaac and Ya’akov - Jacob is the Elohim of Hope!
YaHVaH Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, used this special man to share a profound message to His people. Zecharyah’s name in Hebrew is Zachar'Yah, a name that had a profound meaning for the time that he was living and it still speaks to us today!
“Zachar” in Hebrew means, “remember” and “Yah” is as most of us will know the first part of the blessed “Memorial Name” of YHVH Elohim, which is pronounced YaH’VaH or YaH’WaH. Thus, the meaning of Zecharyah is “YAH remembers.” It is comforting to know that the Almighty, blessed be He, remembers His Covenant and the promises that He made with His people Israel, regardless of their sinfulness for there are always those who remains faithful.
What is meant by the term “Asirey Hatikvah” - “Prisoners of the Hope”?
If we look at humanity at large, we will soon conclude that sadly, many individuals are prisoners of the I me and MYSELF, as well as alcohol, money, boredom, depression, drugs and so frequently all this leads to despair. However, praise be to Elohim, those who believe in Him and all His promises, having repented of their sins and are committed to follow His ways and His Word, are indeed “prisoners” of HIM who is “THE Hope!”
But why the Word “Prisoner”?
At the very mention of the word “prisoner,” we tend to think of being incarcerated by the law, but beloved in the Word you will discover that there is a very special meaning to this word. The thought Zecharyah wishes to convey is to be “bound,” or to be placed in the “protective care” of Him who is termed as “The Hope.” Think of it in this way. A prisoner of the law is placed in a prison, which is surrounded by high walls. These walls are there to stop the prisoner from escaping, to keep them in. However, YaHVaH Himself is a wall surrounding those He calls His own. This wall helps to keep the adversary out Satan, and those who are against Elohim, and it surrounds those who are in faith with the “protective care” of Him who is our “Hope!”
And what of the Word “Tikvah”?
This word translates as follows, “a Cord” or “Hope.” “Tikvah” is derived from the root “Kavah” meaning “to tarry” - “to gather,” - “to look.” It is important to note that Zecharyah did not say “prisoners of hope,” but “Prisoners of THE Hope,” referring to a specific person, an individual. But, who is “the Hope” that we should “tarry” and “look” for? There is a prophetic “cord” of Him throughout the “Tanach” - the “Old Covenant”.
However, just a few verses earlier YaHVaH Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, through Zecharyah told Israel,
“Behold, your King will come to you, righteous and victorious is He … He shall speak peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth” Verses 9 & 10.
This is the wonderful promise of Israel’s Messiah, who would come at the appointed time, he would be “the stronghold” and “the hope” of Israel, and all who will come into the *faith of Israel.
As in other prophecies in the Tanach, and in the book of Zecharyah, we see the Messiah styled as he who is “the Hope.” Amazingly, the national anthem of the current secular State of Israel is “Hatikvah” – “The Hope.” The author’s prayer to the Almighty is that many individuals of Israel will come to know and believe that Yahushua is Israel’s promised Messiah, who is our Hope! Elohim, blessed be He, promised Israel through Zecharyah, that if they would return (repent) unto Him; He would “make them as the sword of a mighty man.” The Word of Elohim, blessed be He, gives hope and comfort unto all that listen and better still those that heed to His Word!
Zecharyah is the prophet who provides us with many prophesies of Messiah some five hundred years prior to His coming. Zecharyah gives great detail of the life and times of Yahushua.
It is Zecharyah who describes how the Messiah would enter Jerusalem, riding meekly “upon a donkey” (chapter 9:9).
It is he, who told Israel that Messiah would be betrayed for “thirty pieces of silver” (chapter 11:12), and that the Messiah would be “stabbed, or pierced” (chapter 12:10).
He also states that Messiah would return and that “His feet will stand on that day on the Mount of Olives” (chapter 14:4). At that time, Zecharyah stated, the Children of Israel, who rejected Yahushua as a nation, will receive him when he returns.
Blessed be the Name of the Almighty, the Scriptures proves that the faithful of Israel (the remnant) will accept Yahushua as their Messiah when He returns. However, we need to understand that there have been Hebrews (Jews) who have believed in Messiah ever since the time that He was with us and still with us to this very day, for the author is just one of the countless thousands of believing Hebrews in Messiah around the world and in Israel.
Did you Know that …
1. The “Brit Chadashah” - the New Covenant was written entirely written by Hebrews, Jews! In addition the “Gospels” and other main Books and a good number of the Epistle’s although not all, were written entirely in Hebrew, whilst others were written in Aramaic and later ones in Greek.
2. Sabbath keeping Hebrews and *(ex) Gentile Messianic believers were opposed by Constantine, for he strongly opposed YaHVaH’s Scriptural Seventh Day Sabbath, which was upheld by Messiah, His disciples and His followers for hundreds of years after, but Constantine who was and always had been a pagan sun-god worshipper decided to make Sunday the official and the legalised Sabbath day for the State run Roman church, for it had already been kept for a long time as it had been instituted by the Samarian Simon (Magnus) the sorcerer during the time of the Apostles, and this Simon was the first Bishop of Rome not Shime’on – Peter, who never set a foot in Rome! (Read my study re this vital subject!)
I will now use Constantine’s very own words from the official records; “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” (March 7, 321 A.D., Codex Justinianus 3.12.3). This followed up by the Council of Laodicea, which was controlled by Constantine and it decreed; “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing (meaning to keep the Sabbath), they shall be shut out from Christ.” (Strand, op. cit., citing Charles J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, 2 (Edinburgh, 1876) 316).
Thus we see how a sun worshipper enforced Sunday worship on all the churches in 321 AD, and thus it became a day of worship, as well as a new practice such as dawn services for the rising of the sun, all of these services pre dates our blessed Saviour. Far too many of the faithful were murdered because they would not conform to all the evil Romanistic pagan practices and the faith in Messiah, the “Little Flock” in Him continued keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath just as our blessed Messiah Yahushua did and He also commanded us to do this! But sadly the churches followed the Roman system and even justified it by twisting the Word of truth, but beloved we must now return to the Word - in Truth!
Undeniably, Zecharyah was the prophet who so clearly gave Israel, and us, an overall picture of Yahushua’s first and second coming! Now, let us look a little closer into the book of Zecharyah, who gave us fourteen chapters full of blessed treasure. In fact, what the book of “Revelation” is to the Brit Chadashah, the New Covenant, the book of Zecharyah is to the Tanach, the Old Covenant. It is a book full of blessed revelation.
“Return to the fortress, O prisoners of The Hope” Zecharyah 9:12.
May the extraordinary details contained within the book of Zecharyah give us a better understanding of what YaHVaH Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, wishes to say to us?
Let us now study chapter 1 verse 1.
“In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of YHVH came to Zecharyah, son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying.”
This verse reveals that the Word from the Almighty was for a particular time and place. However, we must remember that the message still has a wonderful relevance for us today. Let us look at the overall picture of the time in question.
The time in question is as stated during the second year of Darius and the scene takes place in Jerusalem being approximately during the Hebrew month of Tishri, (September/October) 520 BC. We know from the Tanach that Persia had defeated Babylon and that some two hundred thousand of the Hebrews had returned from Babylon and many had been living in Jerusalem for the past sixteen years. The Temple at this stage was only partly rebuilt and sadly it was in a sorry state. However, the city itself was rather well built and the people were living in nice and comfortable homes. This is so typical, men tend to take care of their own personal comfort first, whilst Spiritual matters, well they can be left for a later date.
In this rebuilt city we find an old man Iddo who is a priest and his son Berechyah – (Berekiah - Zecharyah's father) had died some time ago.
Now, we need to understand that names in the Word of Elohim are extremely important for they tend to have great meaning. “Iddo” means “appointed time” or “witness.” A fuller meaning being, Elohim never forgets and has His time. “Berechyah” means “YHVH Blesses” and this blessing came in the form of a gifted son named “Zecharyah,” which of course means, “YHVH Remembers.” Zecharyah is a priest from a priestly family and he is on the scene at the right time and the right place.
During this same time, the prophet Haggai lived, as did Zerubbabel who was the Governor of Jerusalem, and a man by the name of Yahushua (Joshua. Note: This was a much-loved name amongst Hebrews) who was the High priest. However, YaHVaH Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, chose Zecharyah the priest to be His prophet for this particular time, and thus Elohim spoke to Zecharyah.
But, if we look at the different characters in Jerusalem, you will discover that there is a conflict, for priests and prophets are very different in their functions. The following list will reveal some powerful differences between a priest and a prophet.
A PRIEST is a man who goes to Elohim and speaks on behalf of men.
A PROPHET is a man who goes to the people and speaks on behalf of Elohim – (God).
They are two entirely different functions. In the Tanach they did not overlap, except in a just few outstanding cases. Priests and prophets often were at loggerheads with one another, for …
The PRIEST stood for RITUALS.
The PROPHET for RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The PRIEST was interested in the INSTITUTIONAL.
The PROPHET in the INSPIRATIONAL.
The PRIEST was interested in the EXTERNALS.
The PROPHET was only interested in the INTERNAL.
For these very reasons, priests and prophets were frequently opposed one another in some ways. The INSTITUTIONAL and RITUAL can bring corruption. It then takes a prophet appointed by Elohim, blessed be He, to put the situation right. Thus, He spoke to Zecharyah and commanded him to speak to Israel, delivering the Words He had given him!
Being a prophet would completely change Zecharyah’s life. We know that he prophesied for some four years. Thereafter he would have served as a priest again and that he lived a good and a long life.
Now, this Zecharyah must not to be confused with the one spoken of by our Messiah Yahushua in Lukas - Luke 11:51 and Mattityahu - Matthew 23:35.
Lukas - Luke 11:51.
“ … From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zecharyah, who was killed between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”
Mattityahu - Matthew 23:35.
“… the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar.”
Yahushua was actually speaking about the son of Yehoiada, who was slain “between the Temple and the altar” during the reign of king Joash some 350 years prior the prophet Zecharyah, the one we are currently studying. How do we know this for certain?
2 Chronicles 24:21.
“But they conspired against him (Zecharyah son of Jehoiada) and stoned him with rocks, by the command of the king (Yoash) in the courtyard of the Temple of YHVH.”
The words “son of Berekiah” was actually inserted into the Mattityahu version later by the church that obviously had little to no understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. The correct version of Yahushua’s statement is the one found in Luke 11:51.
Zecharyah and Haggai were sent together to encourage Israel to rebuild the Temple. Again, if Haggai concentrated on the externals of the building by having it built, Zecharyah took it much further by concentrating on the internals, and showed Israel that it is not enough to get the building up, but to do it with a heart and a fervour for Elohim. That, which is in the heart of man matters, not just the exterior! It is not erecting a building to the glory of Elohim that matters; it is living to the glory of Elohim, even if you are not inside the building. That was the difference between Zecharyah and Haggai.
Furthermore, Haggai saw only a few months or years ahead to the completion of the Temple. Zecharyah through his prophetic telescope looked through the centuries, as far as the Second Coming of Messiah. He showed the grandeur of the future and if you have something to look forward to, you will get on with the job, which is at hand today! This is part of Elohim’s eternal plan of the ages; a little given unto the Almighty today becomes much in the eternal view!
In the beginning of chapter 1, we see Zecharyah deliver a short message. Then after he had spoken the Word Elohim had given him, the people knew without doubt that he was indeed a messenger sent by the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov! He might have been a young man, but they knew that the Almighty had been speaking through him. As we look at the message, we will come to realise how special this Word was.
“YHVH has been angry with your forefathers, therefore speak to them. ‘Thus said YHVH of hosts: Return unto Me, said YHVH of hosts, and I will return to you, said YHVH of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the prophets of old called out, saying, ‘Thus said YHVH of hosts: return now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.’ But they did not listen nor pay attention to Me, said YHVH. Your forefathers, where are they? And as for the prophets, could they live forever? However, My words and My decrees, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not befall your fathers? They repented and said: 'Just as YHVH of hosts thought to do to us, according to our ways and our deeds, so He did with us.’” Zecharyah 1:2-6.
Zecharyah's subject was YaHVaH! His title for YaHVaH was interesting. He uses it some forty times in his book, “YaHVaH of Hosts.” For He is the great I Am, Master of the universe, legions, armies, battalions, and all forces. Israel felt rather insignificant at the time, having come out of captivity and having seen the power of Babylon, having been smashed by the mighty hand of Persia. Thus, proclaiming Elohim as “YaHVaH of Hosts” meant so much to Israel. Zecharyah also stated, “YHVH of Hosts says, when are you going to RETURN to Me.” Now this seemed to be a strange thing to say, considering Israel had travelled so far retuning all the way home from Babylon. You can almost hear them thinking, “This young fellow is telling us to Return to YHVH, but have we not travelled far enough?” The meaning of the message is, you can return to the city of Elohim, but you may not have returned to Elohim.
This is a message that could apply to us all, for going to your house of worship means absolutely nothing, for, sadly, many go to churches and their Fellowships in their ritualistic manner each and every week, or just on the holidays (feasts). However, it all depends on who you go to praise and magnify? Is it YaHVaH Elohim and Yahushua THE Messiah and do you thank them with all your hearts and soul for what our Father has done for us by sending His Only Begotten Son, then that means everything. In other words, when going to your place of fellowship, “Do you go to the House of a god, or, do you go to worship the one and true Elohim and you do not even have to be in a building?” The truth is, the building does nothing for you, for beloved only relationships matter, especially our relationship with Elohim and our Messiah and Saviour Yahushua! This is what Zecharyah was saying to Israel at that time, and that message is still powerful to this very day.
The tragedy beloved was this; the Children of Israel had certainly returned to the City of Elohim and they commenced to rebuild it the city as well as the temple, but the latter was being done without heart and without fully returning to Elohim. It was all a labour of the hands, not one of love and faith. And as I see it the tragedy is that houses of worship are mostly still being built just like that today, for people love the grandeur of their churches and those hideous pagan cathedrals with their grotesque demon like gargoyles hanging around the building, or then there was that so-called “prosperity preacher in California who decided to build the Crystal cathedral at a massive cost and he managed to get people all over the world to donate towards his projects, and for what, a building, whilst he was preaching hideous lies! Churches today cost a fortune and it was never meant to be that way. Our beloved Apostles only gathered in simple places, such as homes and public spaces and later as the faithful Messianic fellowships who followed the teachings of Yahushua as taught by the apostles grew, they never built large buildings, that was left to the new northern version of a new, so-called christian faith that created a new state run church, led by Rome, Greece and Constantinople, all of which outlawed the teachings of our beloved Saviour and replaced it with their own new laws and teachings that are these days tragically accepted as the norm, due to it having been in the system for so long? Check the Word of YaHVaH Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, He never changes! His Word stands forever and no man can change it!
Now we begin to understand why Zecharyah had to be a prophet for the people of Israel did not as yet need a priest. This is the reason Elohim gave him this message, “Get back to YHVH (Me) and He (I) will come back to you.” The real root behind the problem of all nations and in the lives of individuals is; they have departed from the ways of Elohim, be it in part or all together. Many have decided not to keep the ways of Elohim, using many excuses why they should not. That is why Zecharyah started his message in this powerful way. Let us all learn from it, but more so beloved, let us heed to it!
Beloved, did you pick up the key phrase? It is “Your forefathers.” What was the reason for speaking about their forefathers? Elohim, blessed be He, was revealing to them, that the only thing Israel had learned from history is that they had not learned from it, and they continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, just as their fathers did. Zecharyah said,
“YHVH was angry with your forefathers for they did not listen, nor did they heed to YHVH.” 1:2.
There is a big difference between hearing and heeding. You may hear the Word of Elohim, but you may not heed to it. You may be a good sermon taster, but that is not heeding or acting on Elohim’s Word. Be convicted by His Word, heed and act upon it and you shall be richly blessed. Zecharyah says, “Your fathers did not heed. They took no notice.” As we have been lumbered with the same problems with the teachings of our forefathers, I pray that we will heed and listen! Sadly we are suffering from having been born into a ready made world, everything has been pre designed and theologies, etc are much laid out and we sort of check it out and just accept much of it, or parts of it, but, nevertheless, the basis is still based on the Roman principle of their new faith that was in reality started around 10 to 20 years after our Saviour ascended to His Father in Heaven, when Simon (Magnus) the Samarian sorcerer went to Rome and set up a new religion that he had learned about from the Apostles, and Shime’on – Peter had thrown him out when he had attempted to buy an apostleship! That evil man was responsible for what is now the Roman Catholic church and he was the first bishop of Rome!
But Israel at the time of Zecharyah was suffering what I call practical atheism. The descendants of Shem, who were the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob believed in Elohim, but they were living as if Elohim did not exist.
Did you realise that there are very few genuine atheists in the world?
Atheists will tell you straight “There is no God.” However, there are also millions, who do not deny the existence of Elohim (God), but ignore His existence by their behaviour and lifestyle. I call them the godless atheists.
Many people make the grave mistake not believing that Elohim means what He has said in His Word. Many do not believe that there will be a “Day of Judgement” they think it is a “figment of the imagination.” It should be our prayer that many will heed the Word and accept He who is the HOPE, Yahushua the Messiah!
What happens to those that will not heed? Zecharyah makes it quite clear when he says, “Where are your fathers now”? This was his tragic answer; “They are dead.” Eventually, the Word of Elohim will overtake you. What Elohim said He would do, He does. Then, it will be too late to change your mind! Turn away from Elohim and you will have to suffer the consequences, the consequences, which Israel has suffered, as history proves. Israel was taken into captivity and made slaves. You simply cannot turn away from the Word of Elohim without it having an effect upon your life. Tragically, many have to go through much pain before they will cry out unto Elohim. Many learn the hard way and ask Elohim’s help when caught up in a disaster. It is during those moments they will seek Elohim and often repent during times of pain. However, one should believe and repent without a disaster in their lives. That is what Zecharyah is saying to the people.
“Come back to YHVH Elohim ... Do it NOW, while things are good ... Get back with YHVH Elohim before you lose your life ... Don’t be like your fathers!” Paraphrased.
The Rabbi Story:
Let me conclude this study by relating a true story that occurred countless years ago in Poland. It is a lesson everyone should heed. It is a story about a faithful Rabbi who genuinely loved the Elohim of his fathers. One Sabbath, the Rabbi was about to deliver his study. He stood at the Ark of the Covenant (where the Torah Scrolls - the Five Books of Moses, are kept) pondering about the message that he was about to give. After a lengthy silence, with great sadness in his eyes, he finally said.
“This will be my shortest, but the most important message I will ever give. Repent one day before you die!”
He then stood there in total silence, for that was the profound message that Elohim seemed to have laid on his heart. There was a deadly silence throughout the Synagogue, a silence that seemed to go on forever.
Then suddenly out of the silence, a Yeshiva (Jewish School) student stood up and asked;
“But Rabbi, how will we know when we are going to die?”
The Rabbi replied:
“Therefore repent NOW, repent this very moment, for no-one knows when they are going to die. It could be today, or tomorrow. Be ready and Repent Now!”
The above contains a remarkable truth. As we do not know when our time will come, we need to ask ourselves, are we ready to meet our heavenly Father? Or do we have the kind of attitude that Israel had when they had returned to Jerusalem and they rebuilt their homes with gusto, but when it came to rebuilding the Temple, well that was more like an afterthought! It was more of a … “Let’s get on with our personal comfort, and leave the spiritual things for later.”
Beloved, it is so important to search out the truth of His Word for the churches, and I do say this with a saddened heart, have been corrupted by Satan. He desires to have people believe in anything but the truth. It amazes me, that when the Word is taught in truth how few really want to hear and heed to it. Yet, so many will believe hideous and evil lies! Not that long ago in Australia, a young man announced that he “was Jesus Christ reincarnated,” and not just that, but the woman who lived with him being, “my partner” he claimed to be “Mary Magdalene who was my wife from 2000 years ago, and now she is pregnant with my son.” These Satanic twosome now have a group called the “Divine Truth” and, yes, believe it or not, they have an extensive worldwide following of very wealthy people who have been well educated and they have pooled vast amounts of money and purchased massive amounts of land and buildings in the countryside for their community. Thus, come up with some evil and hideous lie and people will believe you, but Share the Truth of the Word, many do not want it, the question is WHY?
Well, beloved that is just how Satan the god of the earthly works, a lie is far more exciting than the truth, for if you enter the Word of Truth living in His way, you will have to sacrifice certain things of the world, and let’s face it, we have become far too self centred and selfish to do that these days. How sad! To follow Yahushua THE Messiah, we must live a life that is worthy – “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb!” We expect Him to be worthy, but not us, yet He said …
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” Yochanan - John 15:1-17.
Beloved, we must become involved in rebuilding of the internals, the temple within us, giving our all unto Elohim, excepting His Anointed one, Yahushua the Messiah. This being the case, you will have the assurance, that in his grace and love, our spiritual lives will be in order and we will be a “branch that bears fruit”! When Elohim, blessed be He, speaks to your heart, and I believe that He is speaking to you even now as you read this, take the opportunity to set all things right with Him. Do it now and become a “Prisoner of THE HOPE.” For Yahushua the Messiah, is our Hope!
“Behold, your King is coming to you. He is just and having Salvation … He shall speak peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” Zecharyah – Zechariah 9:9 & 10.
“Teach me Your way, O YHVH. I will walk in Your truth.
UNITE MY HEART TO FEAR YOUR NAME!”
Tehillim – Psalms 86:11
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