Greetings from “shut-down” Jerusalem, dear sisters and brothers. May The Lord be blessed and glorified and may you be blessed and encouraged.
A strong south wind blew throughout the night. The name given to that wind, which comes off of the desert is Sharav. It often fills the air with yellow sand and intense dry heat. Sometimes a “mud-like rain” is mixed with it. Today the wind blows cold dry air and then later it changes to hot dry air. It always brings with it a strange atmosphere and the air is always thick. That is very appropriate today.
At approximately noon today, the lite rail stopped working until 8 p.m. this evening. Schools sent the children home early and many shops did not open. What caused this to happen today? This is how one of the local websites announced it:
Jerusalem Under Siege: Mass Haredi Protests Set to Begin. Hundreds of thousands of protesters, blockades throughout the city, and no school — these are all of the challenges that stand before the Israeli Police because of the huge Haredi protests against the draft law going into effect on Sunday. The heads of the Haredi communities have called on the hundreds of thousands of followers to join in the protests.
It is very complicated.
In the past I have tried to explain some of the differences between the many different streams of Judaism. I have compared it to Christianity with its different denominations, different streams within each denomination, and then differences from one pastor’s teaching to another. It can be very frustrating when an Israeli Jew will say, “Well the CHRISTIANS believe…” and then goes on to quote a Greek Orthodox, or Catholic Priest or a Mormon. So it is with Judaism, and today a “million man march” is scheduled to take place shutting down our already stressful city.
Now a little history, theology and speculation are in order:
There has always been a religious sector of Judaism, which does not engage in physical conflicts, but instead in prayer and study of the Torah. This group in the past has enjoyed state subsidies. But over the last few years the number of students or scholars has swollen and this life style has become a financial burden for our society. There has been much arguing and debate and mudslinging – mostly by the left. It finally was decided that there must be a quota of how many are really called to be set apart in this way. Therefore the rest must perform some form of national service.
This was being slowly introduced, but the left decided that it wasn’t enough. This sector of government recently added the pressure of jail time for those who don’t show up for draft and also mandatory combat army instead of the option of national service. The status quo has held through the years and, contrary to what some say, many religious people DO go to the army and then join the work force.
The rock met the hard place and rather then progress and results, we have a stand off. As I said, it is a VERY complicated issue. But as I sit in my front row seat at our apartment, thousands of Haredi people (they are distinguished by their black and white clothing, men in tall hats with side curls and beards, etc.) make their way to the center of the city. A verse of scripture crosses my mind:
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. Romans 10:2
I remember Ofer exhorting us last night to pray for the Haredi that if they are now zealous WITHOUT knowledge, what will they be when their eyes are open. Perhaps you will also take this opportunity to – first and foremost pray for Haredim to come to HIM. (This is the background that my son in law is from…and so I pray for him and for his family).
There is need for prayer so that this does not turn violent, nor harden the two sides even more extremely into wider positions…AND…for a just and righteous solution. Surely God has His plans and they are always best for all. I just went out on my ‘merepeset’ (balcony) to pray and the scene below me was powerful. Thousands upon thousands of orderly families, small children with name tags and phone numbers on them, quietly but determinedly swiftly walking, some singing and dancing, 10, 20, 50 abreast toward the center of town. They also look like an army. Check out ynet news for possible updates here.
It is all a part of, if not a significant expression of, the spiritual intensity of the season.
If you are reading this letter, then you already KNOW that Israel is not just another country. You have understood that God owns the deed to this land and that He takes very seriously what happens to His possession, the place where He chose to put His Name, the place where He described and marked out the boundaries and borders.
Our Prime Minister is scheduled to leave today for the US where he will meet with President Obama on Thursday. Obama is also scheduled to meet the Palestinian leader, Machmude Abbas, in the coming weeks. I don’t know how many of you are aware of the intensity of this current peace process, which is being pushed upon us, but I do think that most of you are aware of the implications. I fear for America if she continues along this path of dividing Israel. I ask for prayer for Prime Minister Netanyahu that he will stand firm in the face of humanly unbearable world pressure, particularly to divide Jerusalem.
Our Prime Minister seems to stand alone in his opinion of the threat Israel faces from Iran and has continually angered the international community by bringing it up again and again and again. Then there is the Syrian war on our northern border, with Hezbollah stationed in Lebanon. There has been a steady increase in the number of missiles landing in Israeli borders and vigilance is necessary and high. Egypt, on our southern border, remains unstable and now Ukraine is also in turmoil. We have many Israelis with ties to both Ukraine and Russia.
As I said, “Tensions are high.”
It is a GOOD TIME to be fixed in The Lord, standing firm on The Rock and looking away unto Yeshua. Please pray for the church in your own country as well as for the situations here. Although many of the churches in the west understand what’s going on, many do NOT. May His discernment be our rear guard and our present filter on all that we hear and think.
God bless you and encourage you. I send much love.