The Shuk in Jerusalem
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 —
Shabat Shalom from Jerusalem, where I can testify to you that His Peace − His Shalom − is a most blessed gift in a place where peace is a longed for and illusive commodity. I give Him thanks today that He gave us such a great gift among so many other precious gifts. May HE be glorified, blessed and revealed, and may each of you be encouraged and blessed.
As I have walked my life through these past days, my observation bank has been filled with things that I wanted to tell you about. Because I suspect that they are unique, and I also suspect that in many ways they contain glimpses into God’s heart toward these days and His purposes.
It seems to me that we are in, what I have learned to call “Israeli stage two,” meaning that the first wave of shock, grief, and fear is passing into the next stage of “strengthening one another, protecting one another, encouraging one another, laughing, don’t let them win, and sadly, anger.”
So let me simply share with you some of the things I’ve seen as these attacks continue, even today:
I was on the train at the beginning of the week when the woman next to me jabbed my arm with her elbow and said, “Ti’ray!” (Look!) ‘There is Nir Barkat.” (the mayor of Jerusalem).
Sure enough, there he was, standing about two people away deep in conversation with a young soldier. The rest of the car began to listen as they discussed emotions, ideas, and, Israeli style, within a short minute, most of the other people around joined in. He was riding the train from the Old City to talk with people, calm them, and to see what ideas we had, what were our worries, our solutions, our observations.
It was nice, and yes, comforting and strengthening to see the mayor with no body guards riding the train to talk to his people. That night on the news he asked everyone in the city who had a weapon license to please carry their weapon. And for those who didn’t, to arm themselves wisely with pepper spray or an umbrella or the like. He explained that he WASN’T telling people to kill Arabs or become vigilantes, but for each one to guard his brother’s back. We needed to become soldiers since the battlefront was our streets.
I thought, what a contrast to America and other countries, where crazies are committing mass murders and guns are being outlawed. As part of the current situation, our gun licensing laws have been slackened somewhat.
A bit later that same night, the security cabinet established new emergency measures: In flash points, particularly Jerusalem, army units were called up to join the police and border guards, which were being stretched to their limits. Certain Jewish communities outside of Jerusalem, which seemed particularly vulnerable to attack, were to be off limits to Arabs with their gates closed. Many people do not realize − particularly with Israel being accused of being an “apartheid state” that Israeli Arabs generally walk as freely EVERYWHERE that Israeli Jews do.
I share again that the Palestinians are a people who CHOSE to NOT ACCEPT ISRAELI CITIZENSHIP WHEN ISRAEL AGAIN BECAME A STATE IN 1948, THEREFORE CHOOSING INSTEAD − NOT TO MOVE TO THE STATE GIVEN TO THEM AT THE TIME: JORDAN. BUT TO CLOTHE THEMSELVES IN PERPETUAL “REFUGEE STATUS.” (UNHCR was created FOR THEM ALONE) They are THE LONGEST EXISTING REFUGEE POPULATION IN THE WORLD, refusing other citizenships. Most of these refugee camps have neighborhoods rarely seen on TV news with mansions and all sorts of luxuries. The Palestinian and even Gaza hotels and malls have been very popular among liberal European travelers. Admittedly less so since the war last summer with Gaza)
At the same time, 2 or 3 of the Palestinian villages (I believe they were all refugee camps but one may not have been) that most of the terrorists were from in Jerusalem were sealed off for 2 days. (Wed and Thurs) That is the first time that this has been done since 1967.
There was now a security plan in effect so Israeli humor could kick in Stage 2, despite the daily stabbings.
Now remember, MOST Israelis are also soldiers. There is never a past tense to the word soldier here. Once you are a soldier, you are always one.
However, those of us without gun licenses became more creative as the main venue for these attacks have been public transportation along with the bus and train stops themselves. Although these places where women, children and old people are abundant are vulnerable − from the very first attacks we saw that the “guard your neighbor’s back” policy was becoming very effective, and a number of attackers were subdued by a blow from a selfie-stick, umbrella, or a good dose of pepper spray.
By day 3, photos were appearing of rolling pins sticking out of religious women’s handbags, to very un-sporty looking men carrying a baseball bat. A friend told me that the idea she had decided to use was a big potato in a sock as it could pack a good whallop. Despite the sunshine, there were abundant umbrellas, canes, even healthy people with crutches.
Yes, it really did serve as comic relief and it worked.
Just to let you know: possession of a gun without a license or explosives, of a knife [even a pocket knife] or a rock can get you up to 5 years in jail. No questions asked.
The streets have been much emptier than usual. I wondered how my trip to work would go on Wednesday morning, although having spent my time with The Lord I was confident in Him and not afraid. Just a bit curious. The train, even for 6:30 a.m., was unusually empty and there were NO Arabs.
Usually half of the people that I travel with in the morning are Israeli Arabs. My bus stop, however, is in a spot much more vulnerable and usually more than half of the passengers are Palestinians (NOT Israeli Arabs) and the agitation can be felt on a good day. I approached my stop prayerfully and looking all around, but there were NO Palestinians there that morning as they must have been in closed villages. Everyone on the bus looked at one another. There was a collective sigh of relief: no terrorists.
By the time that I left work, there were more Israeli Arabs out and the feeling was calmer. There were many soldiers everywhere and two at each bus stop. One would get on the bus and inspect it while the other waited outside closely watching him.
At my stop, the one outside was a girl. Remember: our daughters are also soldiers. The first soldier rode the bus with us to the next stop and got off. There was a strong feeling that everyone was doing their job. By the end of the day, although there had still been several attacks, people felt much more secure.
Thursday I took time to go downtown after work. The Palestinian villages were still sealed and I hadn’t been to the shuk (market) all week. I was hoping that by now the prices were down a bit, but I was wrong. As I walked toward the shuk, I heard singing. Down Agrippas Street came perhaps 50 young men carrying big Israeli flags, some also draped in them, singing and dancing and encouraging people as they went. “Am Ysrael Chai” (Israel Lives). “Chazak vey emetz lebcha” (be strong in your heart and of good courage) and many other songs from scripture. My heart lifted. I watched soldiers join in and people clapped or sang along.
At the shuk, I greeted my usual shopkeepers and was THRILLED to see that ALL of my favorite Arab vendors were there. So I particularly stopped to talk to them and ask how they were. Again, except for the high prices, I was encouraged.
I called Anam, an Christian Arab patient of ours whom I’ve befriended, to see how she and Boutrous and their family were doing. She was on the way to the hospital near our house to visit with the Jewish wife of a stabbing victim still in extremely critical condition. Ironically he is a very active Jewish leader in the co-existence movement.
Yesterday morning (Friday), there were many more Arabs and Palestinians on the streets and transportation again, but the tangible fear in the air was much less although there were rolling pins and vigilance. The attacks continued but soldiers, police and general public have been alert to subdue many of them. On the bus stop coming home I saw a poster: “Dear soldier and police. We thank you so much for what you are doing. Please come by (address nearby) for coffee, sandwiches, cake or call this number and we will bring it to you. Anything that you might need, be in touch. We love you.”
Yep! We have a motto here: FEED THEM! Every soldier on the train was being offered food from someone’s bag. They are all family.
A couple of further observations: Last Sunday I met a dear sister downtown for coffee: the streets were certainly bare and there were police with sniffer dogs patrolling along with police and ambulances racing up and down the tracks. But we sat having our coffee when suddenly a very skinny, sickly looking young Arab woman in black from head covering down, came through begging for money with her hand out. She did NOT look AT ALL like the usual beggar in this area and alarm bells went off in all of us as this was a HIGHLY unusual event for this place and time. Everyone shook their heads no − also unusual − and an older woman alerted the police.
The following day I mentioned this to Mali. She had been in the border police. When I shared what had happened she looked alarmed and said, “No No! NEVER go near them! They are sent out because they have aids or some other very bad sickness. When you give them money they will touch you and seek to kiss you and leave saliva. They will even suddenly lick you! It is a tactic that was much used in the intifada!”
I thought about the kiss of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus.
Also at work we began getting new requests for anti-anxiety meds from those who do not normally use them. But sadly from those who had been in attacks before. Yosi, a dear bus driver, whose bus had blown up during the intifada and many had died. How amazing that he could even return to driving bus, but now he requested anti-anxiety meds. Maya came in. She had been in a bombing. Others followed. Elisheva, who is mentally challenged and very timid, came in. It also made me think of those young people who are doing the attacking. So many of them are also mentally challenged and impressionable, manipulated, used by their “handlers” who wouldn’t DARE put themselves in harm’s way.
Later that evening, the singing flag waving encouragers, the same age as the attackers, came singing and dancing up past our apartment and we stood on our merepesset (terrace) as they sang “HaTikva” (The Hope), our national anthem.
Last night there was another group and a different singing. It began at about 8 p.m. and they were still singing at 11:30. A different, but bigger group and not regular singing. They were praying and crying out to God − The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob − singing their prayers as Jews do and as believers do when we worship. The singing was plaintive, insistent and passionate. I have not heard this during a time of struggle before and I was, again, encouraged. For our people NEED to know that God is calling us to Himself.
I have spent this time only reporting to you what I witness around me.
Yesterday at IFI I got a copy of Chuck Cohen’s news letter and I want to send you the first 2 paragraph’s as I feel such an urgency that THE BODY OF CHRIST is at a critical crossroad concerning EVERYTHING, but that the way the body embraces GOD’S PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ALL AROUND US AND THAT INCLUDES ISRAEL, WILL DETERMINE MUCH IN THE DAYS TO COME. If you wish, you could read the rest of his letter on the IFI website http://www.ifi.org.il/
How do we respond to the events in our world possibly having prophetic significance? Events such as: anti-Israel, pro-Hamas Jeremy Corbyn elected to lead the UK’s Labour party; Pope Francis meeting US President Obama on Yom Kippur; the Pope speaking to the UN General Assembly [GA], saying he came in his own name (John 5:43); the flag of “Palestine” raised at the UN two days after the 4th red moon – the only ‘blood’ moon that appeared over Jerusalem; an Islamic immigration-jihad invasion of post-Christian Europe with most EU leaders paralyzed by their political correctness; Iran accepted by the global community, especially the EU, as the EU tries to boycott Israel; Russian and Iranian troops in Syria, just north of Israel’s border; a floodtide of anti-Semitism and an increase of aliyah [Jews returning to Israel].
We live in the final days before Messiah’s return. Yeshua has already told us how to respond: lift up our heads and watch and pray (Luke 21:28; Mark 13:33).
An unbiblical view of God… leads to deception about who God is, what He is doing and what He is about to do. At a time like this, as nations come against Jerusalem, but Jews increasingly return to Israel; as deception grows in the Church and violence permeates societies as in Noah’s day; as immorality smothers believers and non-believers, and Islam acts upon its threats against all that is holy, it is crucial for followers of the Lamb of God to know this God and His nature – as He has chosen to reveal Himself in His Word.
An unbiblical view often emphasizes one aspect of His nature while de-emphasizing others. Is He a God of love? He also is a Man of War (Ex. 15:3; Psa. 24:8; Isa. 42:13; Rev. 19:11). Is He a God who forgives? He is also the Judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25; Rev. 20:12). An incomplete view of the biblical God blinds believers to some of His work today as coming from His hand.
The vilest fruit of replacement/fulfillment theory is just this – the proclamation of an unbiblical God, with an accompanying blindness to His current works. If Israel is no longer essential or central to biblical theology, then why bother with the rediscovery of our Hebraic roots, the land of Israel, aliyah and the IDF, threats from Islam to destroy the Jews and Yeshua’s return to Jerusalem, and so much more?
The divine ointment for healing this spiritual blindness is to accept all of His Word as it truly is – the Word of the Living God! Instead of us judging God’s Word, His Word must judge us. Study the Word, but approach it with a fear of His absolute purity, so that even if we do not fully grasp what is written, it still remains in our spirits and minds as God’s Word, awaiting His illumination.
May The Lord be glorified in all that we think and do and say…may we rest in His great grace which is able to accomplish in us all of His purposes…for the glory of His Name!
your sister J in Jerusalem