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 —
Pesach Sa’may’ack, or Joyous Passover, to each of you from Jerusalem. May His plans and purposes be fulfilled in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. May He Alone be glorified as I share, and may you be edified.
My eyes are overflowing with things I have seen to share with you, and my heart is overflowing with His great goodness as my husband and I sat with my kehila last night, sharing in such a wonderful Passover Seder. The wonder of it all, the fulfillment of 2,000 years, perhaps 5,000 years of PROMISE. He has His body here again, planted, walking, believing, obeying. I am more than a bit intoxicated by His great goodness as I try to write, so please have grace if I become too emotional.
It is difficult to be in love and NOT be emotional and He is surely One to love!
If you have ever lived in a big city, you would probably be pretty impressed to see how our city, Jerusalem, right now. It is literally scrubbed down from top to bottom just before Passover (Pesach). It is INDEED impressive. I have described to you before how the insides of homes, stores and work places are scrubbed, but yesterday was “city scrubbing day” and it is a massive group effort.
I had been absorbed in my Bible reading this morning and had missed my normal Friday morning prayer meeting, but instead finding a heart pounding revelation in Exodus 36. More on that later.
As I went down for the early morning train at 6:15 I saw that the garbage trucks and sweepers were hard at work. A tired looking elderly lady in a nightgown and slippers came out of her building hauling a large bag of garbage over to her dumpster. Suddenly she saw that the dumpster was already across the street being emptied. She looked at her bag and back again at the dumpster. Finally she decided to set it down in the empty dumpster site and shuffled back to her apartment. The garbage man brought the dumpster back and seeing the new bag, with no sign of annoyance at all, ran it to the truck. Even the garbage men and street sweepers seemed in a good mood.
I thanked them for their work and they smiled at me. As the train wove it’s way to the shuk, I was impressed by the silence and the cleanness of the streets. I saw truck drivers along the way with big buckets and brooms scrubbing down their trucks. At the shuk, all of the bread and cake stores were closed and many other places had certain shelves sealed off already. Even the shuk looked shiny.
The bus was soaking wet when I got on as it had already been hosed and scrubbed inside and out, making the seats a bit of a gamble to sit on. It was a delight to weave our way through the clean and quiet streets, decked with flowers pressed into bloom by the blessing of alternating rain and sun over the past few weeks.
I’ve often described my 2 block walk from the bus to work to you because of the abundance of fruit trees lining this beautiful old and quiet neighborhood but I nearly burst into tears as I came to my favorite pomegranate tree which is loaded with fruit at the time of the fall “feast of tabernacles” or Sukkot. There, on the eve of Pesach, the first of the spring feasts, were the very first tiny fluorescent crown shaped buds of the rimmon (pomegranate). What timing! It seemed as if The Lord whispered to my heart: “It is ALL complete…the seeds of the end are in the beginning…the seeds of the fulfillment are in the promise…though it tarry, wait for it.” How beautiful!
At 9:12am (yes…to the minute) the country was to be purged of leaven. Smells of small fires were pungent in the morning air as the last of the leavened food was burned. At work (having already seen the first emergency off in an ambulance and dealt with some 5 other walk ins, we searched the office cupboards for anything not marked kosher for Pesach and brought it out to the dumpsters for the cities final pick up of the day. A big discussion ensued between my boss (semi-religious Ashkenazi – of eastern European origin) and the other secretary (religious Sephardic – of far eastern, Arab country origin) about whether it was kosher for Pesach to NOW eat a kosher for Pesach cookie or if you had to wait until after the Seder.
The traditions differ dramatically. Ashkenazim follow more closely the traditions of the sages while Sephardim seem to follow more closely the scriptures, or so it seems to me. It is a mixture so please never take me as the authority. Anyway, it was fun to listen.
Coming home from work to prepare my part of the Seder meal, I joined the crowds stepping aside so as not to be washed away with the street washer. The washing and scrubbing machines were being driven up and down the sidewalks making us look like ping pong balls, dodging it’s spray and brushes. How shiny everything is now. Windows polished, flowers and plants being sold at every intersection and along the way. Why, it even SMELLS clean and fresh.
“Chag Sa’may’ack” the greeting rang out over and over again between strangers. I smiled at many as I wished them “chag sa’may’ack” and prayed that THIS year many would find The Lamb whose Blood saves us truly from the death angel. I love to listen as older people sit and share stories about the way Pesach USED to be in Jerusalem − “before, when people were exceedingly poor and far more generous with one another.”
By the time I got home from work, the streets were all but silent as families were inside their homes, scurrying to bathe and set tables and put on their specially set-aside clothes.
How quiet…how clean…most of the work was done and now was the time of the heart.
The Passover story, in reality, is written from Genesis through Revelation and is the thread of blood (yes both mortal and Eternal) that ties the books together. After more than 41 years of reading through the Word, it has never been clearer to me.
How pure and perfect is the creation, which reflects The Creator. Then there was sin. The tree that just looked good to the eyes so why not eat it? God wouldn’t see anyway and He couldn’t have been THAT serious, right?
And so, an animal was killed, it’s blood spilled so that our Loving tender God could provide clothing to cover the nakedness of the two suddenly made naked by sin. And then there came Cain and Abel, and we learn that the blood speaks from the ground. “Your brother’s blood cries out to Me.”
Blood and more blood. Sin and more sin. And sin always requiring the most precious to restore us to Him Who IS Most Precious. Such a great and high price paid − sin is INDEED painful, and costly.
So God found “a man” and “a family” and “a tribe of tribes” with which to establish a covenant, sealed with blood. And when Abraham was tested, the one with whom the covenant was to be signed, GOD HIMSELF provided the lamb. And more than 400 years later through His intricate all-seeing plan, the first Passover entered. God called for each family to take a perfect Lamb, keep him and examine him for 3 days and then to sacrifice him at sundown, dipping the hyssop into a basin filled with blood and placing that blood of that pure lamb over the lintel of the door to speak, “THIS IS MY BLOOD BOUGHT INHERITANCE. THE DEATH ANGEL MAY NOT ENTER HERE!”
The key is always the same: His Provision and our obedience.
The death of all of the firstborn in Egypt and the judgment of the Egyptian gods resulted in the continued unfolding of God’s plan of redemption for the entire world. It is still through The Blood of The Lamb, the shedding of innocent Blood for the forgiveness of sin. A blackness that we don’t understand until we stand in His Light.
The Passover Seder was given so that we would REMEMBER and NEVER FORGET. May our hearts always remember The Blood sacrifice and flee daily to that fountain that we are not hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
So today our country rests. It is also Shabat. The Sabbath rest is deep and the city is oh so quiet and peaceful. Here we sit literally surrounded on all sides by mountains of enemies determined to destroy us and a world fixed on dismantling us. We and our leaders sit around the ancient Seder tables recounting HIS triumph in obedience to His command. We sit in the peace of a clean and quiet day.
Our ancestors prepared the meal in homes shuttered and covered with blood, passing through the Red (Reed) Sea, led and shielded by a pillar of fire and a cloud. WHAT A GREAT AND MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!
At sundown tonight the time of rejoicing begins. It is a weeklong, matzo eating holiday; a week filled with lots of day trips and hikes, sightseeing, museums, playgrounds, special doings, the priestly blessing given at the western wall with most of the country on vacation. (No, not me. People still get sick and come to the Doctor.) People take the time to examine the country that they love, which is a gift from God Himself.
I have no doubt that this will all pale in the wonder that we will have when we see Him Face to face.
May He be revealed to His own as Joseph was revealed to his brothers…perhaps today.
your sister J