Garry continued his series on words associated with ‘Sabbath’ this morning, looking at two Hebrew words which are connected to expectation and hope and then to fulfilment and satisfaction, both crucial aspects of our gathering together when we keep the Sabbath.

‘Seber‘ means to put under close scrutiny and examine and from this leads to the idea of hope and expectation. We find this in Esther 9:1, when the officials who had plotted against the Jews were expecting or hoping for the king’s edict to be carried out. (It wasn’t, because of God’s intervention!) The idea of hoping and expecting is also closely connected to waiting (see Ps 119:166, when the psalmist talks of waiting for God’s salvation). When we gather together, we re-focus and put our hope in God, but so often, our expectations are not met because we have wrong ideas about God and the ways He works (as exemplified by Job’s comforters, who persistently said that his suffering was as a result of his sin, which was not the case at all.) Ps 34 reflects how we can taste and see that God is good, how our spiritual experience leads to spiritual knowledge and how we long for this to be shared by others. As we align ourselves with who God is and the ways He works (understanding the difference between ‘the God we want and the God who is’, as Casting Crowns put it), we find that He brings us satisfaction. Our gathering together, therefore, must involve anticipation, hope and expectation (see Ps 42:1-2), but these must be mingled with faith (Heb 11:6).

What can we expect, then, when we meet with God? We can expect:

  1. God to speak to us (through preaching, praise, prophecy, tongues, interpretation, words of knowledge and wisdom)

  2. God to move in power by His Spirit

  3. God to convict, encourage and enlighten

We find satisfaction and fulfilment in God (the Hebrew word is ‘saba’ and means to be filled to overflowing, as the Israelites experienced in the wilderness in Ex 16:6-11.) The psalms often speak of this satisfaction (Ps 63:5, Ps 65:4) and Paul tells the Romans ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom 15:13) As we put our hope in God and understand who He is, we find He keeps His promises and is completely faithful, reliable and trustworthy. Our souls are satisfied and we find that in God, we can stand firm on His promises and know fulfilment in every area of life.