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 …
Blessings with Love in The precious Name above all names, Yeshua h’meshiach, Jesus Christ. May HE be blessed and glorified and may you be edified, blessed and found of Him in His peace.
The Pope came and went and it was QUITE a study in Jewish psychology to see and hear the responses. Yesterday, the streets were empty in my part of Jerusalem. We went shopping in Talpiot, a neighborhood in the South East of the city that is usually booming with people, but we just zipped through empty streets and stores.
TODAY, on the other hand, the streets and stores are full and happy. Tonight begins JERUSALEM DAY, marking the anniversary of that mystical, miraculous, wonderful day in 1967 when suddenly Israel found Jerusalem in our hands again, for the first time in 2,000 years. The wonder of it does not cease to amaze me, although the world tries its best to at least put a damper on the joy. May they not win, but may their eyes be open to come and share in the rejoicing.
AND dairy products are being bought by the ton as women begin to bake and bake and BAKE, mostly cheesecakes. Yep, in preparation for Shavuot (Pentecost) which arrives next Tuesday night: Shavuot being one of the THREE high holy days during which God commanded all the men of Israel to come up to Jerusalem and rejoice before Him at the temple. Shavuot was NOT commanded to be a sacrifice of milk (although you might think so by the tradition of eating only milk products and dressing in white), but to present the first loaves of bread baked with grain from the new harvest, as a wave offering with thanksgiving to the priest.
Ok. That was the introduction. Now to elaborate:
Two other popes have visited us since we have lived here. In both of those cases there was actually quite a bit of excitement and curiosity within Israel among the Jews. Now please understand: I am trying to describe something that might be hard to grasp for many of you. This calls for a very quick, and very inadequate history lesson given by me…NOT an authority, but only sharing what I know as a Jew and from my own experiences.
Even today, most Jews do not REALLY know the difference (or think that there is any) between Catholics, Protestants, other orthodox sects and even Mormonism for that matter. The history of relations between Catholics and Jews goes back to the Roman destruction of the temple, the dispersion and the separation of the early Church (about 120 years after it’s inception, I believe) from the original Jewish believers.
Persecution grew and continued growing with the Church of those days establishing that Jews were cursed of God as Christ killers. OF COURSE there has ALWAYS been a remnant that knew and understood the ways of God and sought Him, but I am sharing from the perspective of non-believing Jews. On came the Inquisition, pogroms, countless banishments and dispersions.
When I was a child I recall being accosted by three of my small girlfriends, Roman Catholics, on their communion day, in their white dresses, telling me that I had killed Jesus. Let’s put it this way − relations between Catholics and Jews were not good.
However, in 1948 with the establishment of the modern State of Israel, a problem was posed. If the Jews were cursed with no chance of redemption, how did THIS happen? Well, I’m not an authority on the Catholic church nor desire to become one, but there has been since 1948 a roadway of dialogue and reconciliation.
Ok. Let’s get on with it. This pope is not perceived as someone who likes Israel. The other two were. There was a great deal of nervousness on the part of most Israelis about his coming. He was going to Jordan first and then arriving in the Palestinian Authority by way of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem), circumventing Israel.
Only after that would he come to Israel. He has an obvious dislike for our Prime Minister and prefers to speak to President Peres, the very liberal figurehead of the country who is NOT supposed to have any political influence. In the midst of this, a growing number of angry Jewish youth from the settlement movement on our political right have been carrying out “price tag attacks” and vandalizing Palestinian and Israeli Arab property, often leaving very hurtful graffiti at random every time a Jewish community or home is destroyed as illegal. (I suspect that you don’t hear of such things in the press, but only about the demolition of illegal Arab housing, right?). There have been recent such attacks against some churches and there was fear that the Pope might be targeted.
THIS IS MY POINT: I was shocked and moved by the reaction of the people from my vantage point in Jerusalem during this visit. As I said, streets were deserted. People on the bus or train were all looking downward and they looked sad. I asked The Lord, “What is this?”
As I looked I realized that I was seeing the face of shame. The impression that I got was not that this was the sort of shame that leads to repentance, but the shame that comes from condemnation. I didn’t expect that, but I saw downtrodden souls. I saw a people ashamed that they exist and I KNOW that feeling. I remember it well. I am so thankful to be FREE from it, completely, in Yeshua, but I do remember the feeling. It was a feeling that my very existence, as a Jew, was repulsive to the world and a mistake. I could do nothing right, and that just when I THOUGHT I was doing something right, I would then find out I was wrong. My fault again! The world would be better without me.
This is what I saw around me and the people hid in their houses. Oh, you could say that we were warned of traffic jams and told that there would be disruptions, but I have REALLY seen enough of those over the past 20 years to know that it rarely keeps people inside.
The pope left and was not injured while he was here, thankfully, and there was a collective sigh of relief.
And things were DIFFERENT this morning on the train. The train was JAMMED with young people in their 20s, huge backpacks and sun tanned faces, long walking sticks and smiles. “Are you here for Jerusalem Day?” I asked one of them.
“We are walking the Israel Trail, but wanted to be in Jerusalem for the celebrations. Those over there have walked from the North for Jerusalem Day.”
A young man smiled. “Well, we have only been walking for 2 days,” he said apologetically.
An older man sitting across from me also enjoyed them. “So why are you on the train? Get out and walk.”
The joy caught on and I looked around at the people who had fought in the siege of Jerusalem, at those who had heard the shofar sound at the Western Wall, and at those who read the Psalm with such wonder: “Our feet are standing within your gates O Jerusalem….”
Jerusalem is a mystery. We did not intend to live in Jerusalem when we made aliyah. We intended to live in the country, NOT a city and certainly NOT Jerusalem. But I have found that what is said of her is true: “No one can choose to live in Jerusalem…Jerusalem chooses who she will.”
In the Psalms, the “song’s of ascent” are the Psalms that are (and were) sung as the tribes went up to Jerusalem at the appointed times. I understand that in 1967 when it was heard that Jerusalem was in our hands that the people were told to stay away at first because the war was so difficult and no one knew if it was really over. But the people could not be stopped. They just began walking and kept walking from all over the country and every direction they came up to Jerusalem.
I love to listen to the stories told of that day among our patients. One lived under the old city wall, (many poor people lived under the wall) but had never been inside the old city. Her mother told her, “Tamima. Stay down! Do not go out!” But she said that she heard OUR soldiers and she just ran out and followed them.
Sari Sapir was a young reporter and followed the troops in. She saw a very large ancient key fall to the ground and picked it up and ran after the Arab who dropped it saying, “Sir, sir! You dropped your key!”
The Lord had put such a fear into them that they ran when they didn’t need to. She showed me the key once when I was at her house, about a foot long. How ancient it is I cannot venture to guess.
Tomorrow there will be dancing. They call it “the flag dance” as the streets will be full of people dancing with the flag. I love Jerusalem day. I love the feeling of delight at something so much bigger then us, something that God hath done.
What will be tomorrow? We do not know. Not with this city that the world wants to divide − the stone of stumbling and the rock of offense, the place that God chose to put His Name. Why? Because.
Jerusalem day approaches.
As does Shavuot a week from tonight.
ANSWERS TO PRAYERS: Thank you SO much, those of you who took up the burden that I shared with you in my last email concerning the stillborn Baby and parents so new at seeking Him. And for my daughter…
My daughter told me that the funeral was completely centered on The Lord and that the Mother picked out worship songs to be played. They are turning to HIM for comfort. Our daughter had an unexpected outpouring of love from friends, world wide who didn’t even know about what was going on. It was unprecedented for her and it riveted her attention on Him and she was availed of the strength and provision that He had for her. I want to give HIM glory for answered prayer and to thank you so very much for your love in His Spirit.
I also want to say before I close that my words are not polished, and I am neither a prophet, teacher nor an expert in anything, but the words are an offering to Him and my sole intent is to glorify Him and bless the body as a witness in a place that most of you can not live in. I want to be faithful in what He has called me to do but I am aware that my limitations might bring offense to someone sometime. I am open to challenges or criticisms in His Spirit, so if I do offend you, please tell me how. May we all be found faithful and walking more and more in His Light and His Truth as we see the day rapidly approaching.
your sister J