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 …
Greetings dear sisters and brothers in The Name of Yeshua h’Meshiach, King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Some cities never sleep. Mine, Jerusalem, is on vacation right now. Well…not me and a few others, but many shops are closed and many parts of the train and bus lines are nearly empty as the population flocks to the Old City, or the northern or southern parts of the country for the week-long festivities during chol h’mo’ed Pesach…or the appointed (in-between) days of this Passover holiday. (The word ‘mo’ed’ actually means “appointed time” but is translated in the English Bible as “feast,” which IS implied, but the word is a bit deeper than that. It means a time appointed to meet with God.)
With the meeting of the simultaneous dates for both Resurrection Sunday and Passover, the population has swelled with tourists, both Jews and Christians, both from outside of the country and from our own north and south. The Old City, the scene of the holiest of events and the focal point of history, where God chose to put His Name, draws all of us, whether it is to the garden tomb where Jesus may well have risen from, or to the site of the Temple where the Levites invoked the ancient blessing of Moses on the people yesterday. There is no denying that the Old City is the ancient heart of the world, still beating with both mystery and promise. But the city itself is just a symbol, a type of what we who know Him and have found in our own prayer closets. Our own walks-along-the way.
The two holidays of Passover and Resurrection Sunday really represent the very foundations of both Covenants…and how amazing that they are one in the same. The birth and the fulfillment.
I wanted to write this year as the smoke hung heavily in the air from the burning of the hometz (leaven). I watched again that ancient rite of fires burning the last of the leaven from off the land, people bringing out the last of their bread products to the fires. I wanted to write as I watched fathers holding the hands of their children who were carrying the baked goods, learning their lesson of obedience to God’s commandment.
But even though it moved me greatly, yet more was added to the thoughts about the burning fires today when a sister visiting from Alaska told me that the night before she had observed the park FULL of families barbequing their dinners last night, the first night after the Pesach day of rest). As she returned to her room later in the evening, the families were already gone and yet the smoke lingered heavily in the valley and she thought how that must have been what it was like at Passover in the days of the temple, when the smoke from all of the sacrifices hung in the air and remained, even when Yeshua was here walking these paths. The Word speaks much about the sweet smelling sacrifice-Jesus being the sweetest smelling One – and this touched me. I prayed again that He would find the sacrifice of our lives pleasing. So much symbolism surrounds us just now. May it stir our hearts for Him.
So as Passover approached, I did get to witness all sorts of small but poignant things that I wanted to share. They are the tastes of Jerusalem and her uniqueness as she waits for her Promise who Himself waits to open her eyes. May these tastes satisfy you with a salt that makes you thirsty to pray for the fulfillment of His perfect purposes according to the longing of His heart. I wrote these notes as I waited for and rode the train shortly before Pesach:
As I waited for the train, watching it approach, a huge raven landed on the track. Our ravens differ in appearance from those that I knew in America as these have a dove brown body (our doves are doe-brown…NOT white) and black wings and head. As the train got closer, it seemed to “play chicken” with the approaching train, not flying off until the very last second. I held my breath, not wanting to see a squished raven. As I noted the glint in it’s eye (having enjoyed its game) I thought, “Huh! It’s Israeli. It has an Israeli chutzpah personality. It is not politically correct. It challenges itself to its limit all of the time, and this is somehow a reflection of the character of the people.
I was still thinking about this as I got on the train crowded with soldiers. I stood beside a young soldier with an Uzi strapped across his back and a big lunch bag in his hand. I could see the cucumber, tomato and pita inside the plastic bag. I smiled at the little boy look on his face. Looking out the window I noticed brand new flags – an Israeli flag alternated with a Jerusalem flag – all along the tracks. They had not been there yesterday and I realized that they were just being put up. I watched as they blew so gloriously in the wind: a proclamation of a promise made by God to Abraham and continued through the days of Moses and down through David and through out the centuries of dispersion and even in the face of constant threats of annihilation. There they flew, fresh flags proclaiming that HE WHO HAS BEEN FAITHFUL WILL BE FAITHFUL.
As I watch the people running through the shuk. The freshly harvested huge garlic, fragrant and woven into braids for gifts in glorious contrast with the deep red strawberries, golden bananas, glowing oranges of all hews and sizes, fruits, vegetables, greens, reds, purples, yellows, oranges, among happy but hurriedly focused crowds rushing toward the goal of being ready before the shofar is sounded to announce that it is TIME to sit down to the Passover. I watched a tall (Israelis are generally rather short…like yours truly…or maybe NOT quite as short as me) tourist excitedly pointing his smart phone around and shouting excitedly into it, “You wouldn’t BELIEVE this. You should SEE it.” It made me smile.
But I also watched a blind woman feeling her way through the produce and a young woman came up taking her arm and saying, “Can I help you?” They turned and smiled at each other and even without seeing, they saw.
Right after that I overheard another young man on the phone calling someone and saying, “You were on my mind and I wondered if you need any last minute help?”
All around me people were helping one another, being kind, greeting one another , “Hag Sameach.” (Happy Holiday.) In the midst of the outwardly rude, pushing mass, there was a steady flow of kindness and help. It warmed my heart.
I was very tired and not feeling well. So I was happy and thankful to be invited by the elders family at kehila to their Seder in their home, and had only prepared my contribution to their dinner and a gift, needing to work right up to the day of the Seder, on that Friday evening.
I did NOT have a very godly response when my husband announced on Tuesday that he did not want to go. He thought we would just stay home. Seder is NOT something people have alone. The scriptures say that each family takes a lamb and if the family is TOO SMALL for a whole lamb, they should take it with another family. A year old lamb is a LOT of meat, so this implies a BIG GATHERING. Even when we did NOT gather with MANY people, we at least had our children and a few guests.
Yes…I was angry! Here I stood before Pesach and Resurrection day, before the commemoration of what He has done and more importantly, WHO HE IS. I was full of sin, anger, even self-righteous anger because I felt like a martyr who had a right to be angry. AND I couldn’t even ASK Him to forgive my husband because I was so ANGRY. WHAT TO DO? My prayers were more like: “God…? Are you there? Hum…help.” Period.
I am writing now BECAUSE HE IS FAITHFUL.
My husband and I had THE BEST SEDER EVER. By faith and with some anger and depression, I set the table as before Him for the holiday with the Seder plate, the matzo and the grape juice. I set out our haggadot (these are the books that are read at Passover Seder that retell both the story of Passover and are full of teaching commentary.)
Although they are passed down through the ages, different cultural, ethnic, or persuasion groups have their own slants. We have quite an assortment of haggadot in our home. We have inherited my father’s, we have some from different groups of believers, we have others in Hebrew only and we even have one that I put together one year.
There is one that we were given in ulpan (language class) when we first made aliyah, that was put out by the Misrad h’klita (or the Ministry of Absorption of the Jewish Agency) which is for immigrants and is in Hebrew PLUS every possible other language. It also explains traditions and background for those who don’t yet know them.
So here sits my husband and his rebellious wife. I hand him (he is profoundly dyslexic by the way, and finds reading VERY difficult) the huge pile of haggadot and say, (hoping to make him feel REALLY guilty) “Ok. Lead us.”
He said, “I want to do a traditional Seder like your Dad did. We will use his haggadah.”
Well, my Dad’s haggadah was VERY dry and written in King James English, full of this rabbi said this and that rabbi said that. My Dad used to HUM through a lot of it and skip whole portions. It is boring to say the least. We didn’t get far into that one when he picked up one from a believers Seder instead and said, “Let’s change to this one.”
That one was easier reading, but after a while it diverted so far from the traditional that it left out so much that we started flipping through them all. While he did that, I got up and took the afikomon.
This is a side comment, but perhaps some of you remember that afikomon is a bit of a mystery during the Seder order. (Usually it is stated: we don’t know WHY we do this exactly.) The leader of the Seder takes 3 pieces of matzo (unleavened bread) and places them in a special bag (or napkin) with 3 slots. NO ONE QUITE KNOWS WHY BUT the MIDDLE PIECE of this pierced, striped unleavened bread is BROKEN. Then the BROKEN PIECE IS SET ASIDE AND HIDDEN. AT THE END OF THE FEAST, THE BROKEN MIDDLE PIECE IS SHARED WITH EVERYONE AT THE FEASH. IS THIS A PICTURE OR WHAT OF YESHUA AND OF THE REVELATION THAT WILL COME?
The Son, broken and hidden away to be revealed at the end of the feast, which CAN not end until HE is shared with all called to the feast. I love it so much.
So…to continue…while my husband was distracted and puzzling how to proceed, I got up and took the afikomon from beside him and placed it in my Bible.
So, we ate our rather simple but nice meal after getting through the plagues and moving on. It was now about 8:30 and my husband was ready to end the meal. I said, “Hey! Not so fast. Not without afikomon.”
He said, “Well, that’s easy. It’s right here…”
I smiled like a Cheshire cat.
“HOW DID YOU GET IT? WHERE IS IT?” he asked and was truly surprised.
“You don’t get it until I get what I want,” I told him.
According to Jewish Passover tradition, as kids we bargained for a small toy or a bit of candy. “Ok, what do you want. I don’t want to be here forever.”
Well, I wanted two things, and I was unmovable: he did the cleaning up AND I wanted to finish the FULL Seder. I had never done that before. Usually after the meal we would sing a few songs because everyone was full and tired and happy. We would bless The Lord and end.
Again, the haggadot came out and we searched. He picked the one from the Jewish Agency and it stated that the end of the service is called “THE HILLEL” (which is WORSHIP AND PRAISE).
It is ALL taken from scriptureand from Psalms. Deut. 8:10 says, “ When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”
And so in Judaism the main blessing is prayed AFTER the meal rather then before…and…oh my…true praise and worship it is. As we read, we both began to weep and worship and praise as His glory was repeated and His Name was blessed and over and over and over Who He IS was lifted up in thanksgiving, page after page of blessing into song. We finished at 10:30 full of light and joy and love for one another, but mostly for Him Who somehow MIRACULOUSLY brought us out of anger and darkness…NOT with harsh rebuke and chastening, although we so deserved it, but by pointing our eyes toward HIMSELF. In worship, our sin was drowned and we were once again delivered, as the children of Israel went through the Sea of Reeds (yes…it isn’t the Red Sea in Hebrew but the REED Sea.”
With still much to share, may this offering (which it is) be acceptable to Him and encouraging to you.
For His glory.
Your sis J