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, dearest sisters and brothers! I greet you because we are His. May He be glorified and blessed and may you be blessed and edified.
As I walk through the streets, the air is hot and still. It reflects well the sense that I’m getting from the Israelis around me right now. Tisha b’av, or the ninth of the month of Av, is again approaching with fasting from the end of Shabat on this Saturday until sundown Sunday.
On Wednesday the air raid sirens were tested. The siren, when sounded for war or danger is a rising and lowering (undulating) sound, rather then the steady wail of the memorial blast that calls us to a minute or two of silence.
Both are eerie. Both signify something way bigger then we are.
The test that occurred on Wednesday was announced ahead of time, but not widely, so it took many by surprise. Although the signing of the pact with Iran and the resulting strained relations that we now have with the USA is giving the far left in Israel reason to complain about our government’s handling of the problem, their protests are weak. Most Israelis know that this is way bigger then we are and that no matter WHAT they think of our Prime Minister, they really can’t accuse him of having been too quiet.
And as the snow ball effect grabs hold of the incredible world shifts, and events move at an ever increasing speed, my sense of it is that most of the country is drawing together as one, knowing that we can not be divided.
With this backdrop, Tisha b’av approaches.
Judaism has a number of “fast days,” but I believe that the main ones are Yom Kippur in the fall of the year, (the day of atonement – a time for personal soul searching and repentance) and Tisha b’av, which I feel is more of a day of collective repentance.
I was given the opportunity on Wednesday to speak up at my work right after the siren test ended. Everyone began talking about our situation and the restructuring of our defense forces, which is called “the Gideon Plan.”
“I was just reading in Judges this morning about Gideon,” I announced to them.
“You read the scriptures just to read them?” a rabbi’s wife asked.
“Yep. And I’m thrilled with the new name of the Gideon Plan because God told Gideon that if there were too many men going to battle with him, Israel would take the credit for the victory instead of giving the glory to God. That made me think about our pride and why it is that the rabbis say that it is sinat chinam (baseless hatred) that brought about the judgments upon us when it is so MANY sins that we have committed?”
All heads shook up and down and turned toward me, so I kept going. “What about pride and…”
The list got long, but everyone was in agreement.
But let me back up a bit. Hopefully, if you have been reading my letters for a while, you remember that Tisha b’av commemorates the destruction of BOTH the first and second temples, the dispersion (the judgment upon Israel according to the blessings and curses written in Deuteronomy and throughout the Prophets) and the uncanny coincidental disasters befalling the Jews on the same date throughout history. However as I was thinking about how to write this letter today I realized that the SIGNIFICANCE of the temple and its destruction to the Jews might be illusive to many of you. I’m not sure that I can explain it, but I am asking The Lord to help me to try:
Remember when The Lord God Almighty FILLED the temple, both first and second one? His Presence…His Shekinah glory FILLED the temple, even though He said to David in 2Samuel 7 − “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?” and yet He humbled Himself to dwell amongst the people in the temple that He granted Solomon to build.
Then again in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. THIS was “God with us…Emanuel” to His people.
WE who believe, have entered into the understanding of Heb. 10:5 − “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.’” (see also Ps. 40:7)
To the Jews: GOD dwelling in a body seems impossible. Indeed the entire book of Hebrews sometimes seems to me to be written to transition the understanding that the temple is no longer needed. (It is an AMAZING book to read when you look at it as almost a revelation of transition from His Presence in the temple to His Presence with us −The Living Lord.)
Okay, do you get a taste of the idea?
Here I go teaching again, and please forgive me, I am NOT a teacher, but Tisha b’av would mean so little if you thought that it was a building that we fast for and mourn about or if you thought that the temple mount that is the center of the world’s conflict were a piece of property and the western wall as a shrine. But to understand that this is a people mourning and anguishing for The Shekinah Glory − the Presence of The Living God. EVEN if not yet with the revelation of knowing Who He Is, at least it is the MEMORY tucked away that GOD WAS WITH US, even though our sin had separated us.
To me, this is the POTENTIAL of Tisha b’av.
If you are challenged to grasp it, then you might want to read the book of Hebrews along with other portions concerning the building of and FILLING of the temple. Isn’t this what we ALL long for: EMANUEL? GOD WITH US?
And so, I continue to walk the streets of Jerusalem daily, riding the bus, the train, walking through the shuk and working in the doctor’s office, trying to find a way to glorify Him in the midst. The people ARE more tense.
It is not a nervous fear, more of a resolve. Around us ISIS battles the Iranian backed militant terror groups for who will lead the way into Jerusalem − Shiite or Sunni. That is all that it is.
We don’t see one as moderate and one as extreme. They BOTH want the prize and that is Israel. They speak it openly, making it very clear. ISIS has been challenging Hamas in the Gaza Strip (yes, there is a mini terror war there that you likely don’t hear about) saying that Hamas is too friendly to Israel and ISIS will take over and conquer us. They are trying. It’s time to look up and everyone here knows it. Sadly they just are not sure HOW!
It has been a beautiful cool summer until now, but it has turned hot since the day that the pact was signed. As I walk the two short, lovely blocks from the main street to the street where I work, the grapes and the pomegranates are quickly ripening in such a majestic way that it catches my breath. When I see the grapes and the pomegranates swelling I remember that Sukkot (feast of tabernacles) is approaching, and that reminds me that His cycles continue.
The summer fruits and vegetables fill the shuk (at double the price for some reason) and the Arab and Jewish vendors continue to get along with no problem. We walk through our days, only with slightly more vigilance and slightly raised eyebrows. What a season we live in and how quickly it is all moving, at least from my perspective.
And then I remember that some of you do live in lovely and peaceful places. That makes me happy. Because I also know that His Spirit lives within you and allows you and I to join into one temple before Him for His purposes and to worship Him in His glory. Wow! What a privilege!
Well, I’m sorry that this isn’t my usual sharing but it is almost Tisha b’av. Thanks so much for being my friends. Thank you for your prayers for us and for this nation. I send love.
Your sis in Jerusalem,