Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4
Greetings, dear sisters and brothers,
May The Lord be seen, glorified and blessed, and may you be blessed and edified toward Him alone.
I have been much impressed over the years by the fact that the prophets, the fiery prophets, prophesied NOT during times of great darkness but generally during times of spiritual prosperity. Isaiah prophesied during the days that, among others, Hezekiah was king. Jeremiah prophesied during the days of Josiah.
I could go on, but what struck me about this is that it is HARD to hear the message “repent or else” while we think that we are okay, especially while we are seeking The Lord, praying, reading, obeying. When it feels to us as if The Lord is blessing, hearing us and answering and we are walking in fellowship. Then all of a sudden, we hear rumblings of “Seek The Lord now or else!”
Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable, condemned and even get angry. “Who do you think you are?”
What a time we live in, and we CERTAINLY have not passed this way before!
I’m sure that it has been with horror that we have all read the reports of the California fires in Paradise. The descriptions remind me of nuclear war, people overtaken by flames and incinerated instantly. It is difficult to grasp. Everywhere we turn there are reports of great human suffering and we don’t really know if it has always been this way. Or has social media accessmagnified it through bombarding us moment by moment. But no matter what, it is indeed snowballing before our eyes.
Here in Israel we are also experiencing nonstop fiery dilemmas. I have described the fires in the South set by incendiary balloons and kites. It looked as if it was going to burst forth into a full-fledged conflagration last week when some 450 rockets and missiles were fired at us from Gaza. One person was killed (ironically, a Palestinian man) when a rocket collapsed a building in our southern city of Ashkelon. There were quite a number of injured during the 1.5 or so days of fighting, which then suddenly stopped.
Yes, it was very intense.
The media and the politics appear to be in a free-fall at the moment. Our Minister of Defense’ Avigdor Lieberman, resigned in the face of our government accepting a cease fire (again) with Hamas. It appears most likely that we will have to go to early elections as the government is collapsing in the light of the pull out of Avigdor Lieberman’s party from the coalition form of government that we have. Our word belegan (total mish mash of confusion and mess) seems to apply to the situation before us as Hamas laughs and states that “this has been nothing compared with what we have planned for Tel Aviv.”
And yet I believe that our leaders are not stupid. The rumblings in the north (Syria, Lebanon, Iran…) are serious. There are plans going on of which we know nothing…
But I have always been arrested by the verse above in Joshua 3:3-4… Step back! Leave a space! You have never passed THIS WAY BEFORE!
Many people feel as if they know what will happen. I do not. One thing I do know: This is much bigger than I am, and I can/MUST bring it all before The God Who IS bigger than ALL. To do that effectively I need to heed the cry of the prophets to repent fully before our Holy God.
I am telling you nothing new, and nothing that you don’t know until this point, but I will lighten up. I DO have some local stories to share.
So here is a story:
Last night was Friday night, erevn Shabbat (the evening of Shabbat, when Shabbat enters. Saturday night is motze Shabbat- when Shabbat leaves). We have been blessed to have our younger daughter and family back in the land for the past more than 2 years already, and as they only live two blocks away, they join us for most erev Shabbat meals: the festive meal.
I have shared before a bit about our son in law who was born here, the oldest of 14 in a Haradi (ultra orthodox ) family from French Algerian background. He is a sweetheart and I have learned a lot of traditions from him that are different from those that I was raised with in New York City, America.
Last night our 4.5 year old Granddaughter Maya said, “In the shuk today a man gave me a yummy birthday present.” She smiled broadly.
“But Maya,” I said, “It isn’t your birthday.”
Yitzhak (our son in law) said, “No. But it was HIS birthday. That is how you are SUPPOSED to do it. You have to bless OTHERS when it is your birthday because you have gotten the BIG blessing of your life on the day when you are born. You are already blessed with the biggest gift so you need to bless others on your birthday.”
Maya added, “Abba and I went to the shuk and this man gave me a bag full of sweet things and nice things and blessed me.”
I asked, “How old was this man?”
Yitzhak answered, “He said that it was his 85th birthday and he was handing out bags of goodies to everyone at the shuk”’
I smiled and thought of Meir Slama who was the first one that I knew of at my work who came to me with a beautiful box of expensive handmade chocolates and flowers and told me that it was his birthday. I was taken aback.
When we first made Aliyah, it was common to be on the bus and a girl or boy would pass around goodies and tell everyone it is their 16th or 18th birthday. I was so touched as they shared but I didn’t understand the depth of the tradition.
I thought back a few years and remembered again, older people at the shuk, passing around goodies and flowers on the occasion of their birthday. It began to fall into place. “You need to bless people because you have been blessed with life. They have it backwards in the west where people get gifts on their birthdays. You have to GIVE.”
I remembered visiting Maya’s gan (pre-school) for her birthday party and remembered how our daughter had to bring 30 little gifts and packages to give to all of the other children.
Huh! I think that I like this tradition. At my husband’s birthday dinner, Yitzhak had told him that he should go around and give each one a blessing. It was a special time as he did just that and we were all edified.
It is a good tradition with its roots in truth, but it is still a tradition.
I feel challenged today to cut away the nice things of my life and get to the raw part. Let God deal as deeply as He did the day that I met Him because the time is short. Even so, I have not passed this way before.
In my last letter I described the march of the young people from the south saying that they had had enough of “red alerts” and fires. That was just a few short days before the whole south blew up into a full-fledged battlefield. It was also just before our Mayoral runoff elections about which the word that was in my heart was either the sons of Greece or the sons of Zion (Zechariah 9:13).
The religious candidate won over the secular candidate. How strange that that was all just one week ago. It really feels as if it has been years!
May we be found in HIS Peace gazing at Him, abiding in Him, as time and this world continue to run. And as it runs, may we sit at His feet. And as we are at His feet may we sing blessing and honor and glory and praise unto HIM WHO ALONE IS WORTHY, Whose Name is The Word of God (Rev. 19:13).
your sister J