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 …
5 Sept 2013 – My elderly neighbor’s voice was very loud as he was on speaker phone to a friend. I worked in the kitchen and went to close the window when I caught his words basically saying: “Yes, and the Suez Canal was not that far…” I began to listen. This is the day that the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war is being commemorated. I listened as he and his friend recounted their minute by minute experiences. “No. That was Thursday and I still didn’t know what was happening. Rumor said that there would be a cease fire (hafsaket esh) but we were still fighting.”
I had listened to a stirring account given by a man on the radio news this morning. He said that in the first day of the war alone he lost 85 of his friends, family and unit. The interviewer asked how he had survived and he immediately said, “That was only God.”
It was better then listening to the news where I heard a disappointing statement given by our Defense Chief this week saying that Israel can depend on no one but herself, her capabilities and the IDF (our military). I gasped with grief, not a mention of The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God have mercy!
I said out loud: “We depend on You Lord! Our eyes are upon You!”
Dear Brothers and sisters, Shalom. May The God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of The Holy Spirit. May you be blessed and may The Lord be glorified and blessed.
I wrote the above several days ago and then time ran out and I lagged several days behind.
“Succot Sameach. Happy Succot!” we said yesterday to bus drivers, vendors and strangers on the street, rushing home after work to prepare the dishes to bring out to the sukka. There was a heavy air between my husband and me this year as we put up and decorated our succa. Some family issues weighed heavily upon us, as well as the uncertainty concerning our move and the lack of family with us tried to block out the joy of the holiday. Finally, however, the succa was up, and I added new scripture verses this year to the ones I normally hang in Hebrew and in English. Our visitors usually include local believers, Christians from the nations here for the MANY feast related meetings and prayer watches, and local friends and neighbors who are not yet believers, some of whom don’t yet know what we believe.
The scriptures therefore have a multifold purpose: to glorify Him, to remind us of why we are sitting in the succa, to spur us to Him, to declare Him and His purposes both to those who come in and go out and to the very heavens above, to stand in agreement with Him.
So I carefully pin the computer generated hangings I too hastily put together on our walls made of strips of different material I have collected over the years. My husband cuts the palm branches from a few date palms around our house and puts them on top of the lattice of loose sticks that are laid across our clothes line. Usually I am able to get some willow and other branches added in, but this year it is just date palm. As tacky as it sounds, I then put up the ‘plastic’ fruit hangings − grapes, pomegranates, peppers etc. − I have collected over the years, much like Christmas ornaments. Then I put up the fresh fruit I bought at the shuk yesterday: pomegranates with their stems and leaves and boughs of early yellow dates.
Finally, I head out through the area in search of boughs and colorful flowers. I come back with lots of fragrant myrtle, branches from the red pepper trees laden with red peppercorns, a blue hanging flower, and various lovely leaves and fragrant herbs, and I hang them where there are spaces. I have to be careful that the pomegranates are not hung above where someone will sit as they can HURT when they fall! Bowls of huge sweet grapes, dates, all colors and varieties of fruit and nuts sit on the table. The living Thanksgiving offering is prepared in a living tabernacle to house living stones hoping to be a sweet smelling savor to Him. Time to enter in.
This is my “close up view” of yesterday’s preparations.
Around us swirl a huge flurry of events including a spiraling amount of convocations hosting Christians from around the world. What a cacophony of activity. When we first made aliyah, there was ONE Christian Feast of Tabernacles’ conference which hosted believers from all around the globe. It was one of the biggest events in the general Jerusalem calendar yearly. Over the past few years groups have split off and other groups have come in, depending upon persuasion and emphasis of doctrine, and perhaps geographic area of the world. The result has been multiple large conferences going on simultaneously.
How blessed we are to have many, many thousands of believers from all over the world gathering to pray and intercede for the nation and to worship The King. Although we don’t often get to go to partake in any of the meetings due to work constraints and so forth, we often get meet encouraging visitors during the holidays. Our kehila will be full of visitors tomorrow night. One was with us last night in our succa from California. She joined, with a pastor friend and his wife, as we sat under the Jerusalem stars sharing The Word, testimonies, and His glory.
Along with the Christian feasts, there are both huge and small Jewish gatherings in individual and group succas. The secular make it a “nature feast” and travel and camp and have fun. Each morning thousands of people wend their way to the Western Wall or to synagogue with their “four species:” a palm branch, called a lulav, two willow called the aravot, minimum of three myrtle branches called haddasim , and finally one citron called an etrog. They pray and say special blessings. There will also be the ‘Blessing of the Cohenim, the proclaiming of the priestly blessing over the people sometime later this week at the western wall.
AND there will be the Jerusalem March where believers come front and center: marching through the streets of Jerusalem often in traditional dress depicting their home countries and with banners proclaiming scriptures and promise. The streets are all closed and lined with joyful spectators, amazed that Christians come to bless them. What a season!
Leviticus 23:33 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary workon it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord. 39 ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to theLord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I amthe Lord your God.’” 44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord. (For a few of the MANY other references in scripture see: Deut 31:10,Zech14:16, John 7:37, 2 Chron 5:3 and 2 Chron 7:8-end (amazing celebration)
I must continue to work during Succot so it is a particularly busy time for me. The first and the last days of the feast are both proclaimed days of rest. I don’t work on those and neither does public transportation or anything else. Yet how I love to see the succas lining the streets as I make my way to and from work, and to hear the noise of people inside. Occasionally, if I have a moment, I will drop in to a stranger’s succa and become an immediate friend. The succas are open to all. Strangers are welcome. It is a law in Jerusalem that every house must be built with a place for a succa, even if that is in the street out front.
The last day of Succot is Simchat Torah, or Joy in the Torah. It symbolizes the end of the yearly cycle of reading the torah scroll and the beginning again at “In the beginning GOD…” ( Gen 1:1)
A dear friend who was just in our succa for lunch today told us how it just hit her they are not talking about reading the Bible, but THE SCROLL. It is rolled out through out the year, and at the beginning of the new cycle of reading through the scroll, it must be manually and carefully rolled up to start again, which is no small job. What an interesting thought: someday this world will be “rolled up as a scroll” and there will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. We do long for such a day.
It is time to go and prepare the evening meal. I do love sitting outside and hearing the wind in the trees and the birds signaling the different times of day. It’s like hearing The Lord signaling the different seasons. May we have ears to hear.
Brief family update: our new son-in-law whom I’ve told you about, and whom I’ve asked for prayer, is suddenly becoming very “religious.” This is a shock and actually a panic. I told you that our daughter has been a backslidden believer and her husband a backslidden Haradi orthodox Jew. I have been praying The Lord would pursue them unto Himself as they both truly seem to want and be looking for His Truth.
Suddenly, however, he met a rabbi who is very cultish and has taken him in − hook line and sinker. They are currently in California living with our older daughter and family. It has become VERY strained, painful and grievous on many levels. Our younger daughter who is pregnant cries all of the time. Thank you for praying for them as there is tremendous tension now where there was joy. May we ALL – and our families and our generations − be found IN HIM FOR HIS GLORY.
I want to take a moment to thank you for caring. I mean that. Thank you for caring for us, our family, this people, this nation. Thank you for caring for the Church worldwide. Thank you for loving God and being Light in such a dark world.
Blessings to each of you,
Your sis in Jerusalem, J