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 —
Dear brothers and sisters, GREETINGS in The Name of Yeshua h’meshiach, Jesus Christ , in Whom we trust and believe together. May He be glorified and blessed, and may you be encouraged.
Sometimes we are privileged to witness moments, glimpses through a window, that leave us breathless. This has happened to me several times through the passing of the two memorial days and Independence Day. Then, it falls to me to lay them before The King of Kings and ask Him to give me the GREAT GRACE to translate them to you. May The Lord be faithful, not for my sake or even yours, but for the glory of His great Name, for surely there is a rustling in the top of the mulberry trees.
Each year I find it increasingly difficult to believe that they will pull it off again. It’s sort of like: “Lord, You DID pay the rent last month, but surely this is the month that it just won’t happen.” The fact that the country takes on a mantle of deep mourning, not once, but twice in less than a 10 day period, and the fact that the SECOND memorial day literally personally touches each life here. Just to THINK that the raising of a flag, the changing of a note on the trumpet from a minor key to a major key, that as the sun goes down on the deep grief, that it can really and honestly be buried again and again. And then transformed into great rejoicing, true, real and significant rejoicing, it is inconceivable to me.
But, YES! THEY DID IT AGAIN!
And for me, it was even more dramatic this year than in the 21 past years that I have witnessed them, though I can’t fully say why. Perhaps it was that the grief seemed heavier this year.
But that IS how the nation was born.
Each time it has been it tears and ashes and then the wonder of a nation born in a day.
AND WHAT A DAY IT IS!
What I am building up to is what I heard on Friday at work, again and again, but I’ll share some background first.
We live a short 3 blocks away from Mount Herzl, our main military cemetery, where our founding fathers, presidents, and Prime Ministers are buried along with the soldiers. It is also attached to Yad v’shem (our national Holocaust Memorial), so we do live in a rather central place.
The ceremony is fully televised but it is only in Hebrew and not translated. I am so thankful to finally be able to understand Hebrew, for it is so rich and real and moving. Although it is so near, we watch it on TV and then walk up to join the celebrating throngs watching the fireworks display.
The modern state of Israel both rose up out of war and was immediately plunged INTO war, and the ceremony is begun with a final Memorial prayer of thanksgiving for those who gave their lives. It is truly a “kiss” from the nation interspersed with poignant poem, song and dance, and scripture. This year Isaiah 60:4 was read to open the ceremonies:
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.”
The ceremonies themselves are full, but at the center is the lighting of the 12 torches for the 12 tribes of Israel. Each year I wonder where they got such amazing people and then I look around me and there they are in the midst. There is a good job done these days of summarizing the stories of the torch lighters in English. It really helps knowing their backgrounds before they speak. Although they were all deeply moving, I wanted to share about 3 with you.
Two were Arabs who put their lives on the line to stand with Israel and they are both strong, brave Zionists with clear messages to their own communities and those around them. One, a Greek Orthodox priest, declares openly that he is proud to be part of a Jewish Democratic state that gives such freedom and opportunity to all of its citizens. A refreshing message indeed these days from an Arab man. He encourages the Christian Arab youth to serve the country and to take advantage of the educational system provided to become productive citizens.
Also at the great expense of persecution from her own community, a Druze dentist became the first woman from her people to step out and study medicine, encouraging her people in like manner. Brave souls, each of them standing tall amongst the others.
But the one who brought down the house, Avi Biton, a bus driver from Haifa, who though stabbed in the back by a terrorist, purposely zigzagged his bus. His maneuvering threw the terrorist off his feet and allowed his passengers to flee to safety until he himself subdued the terrorist before he passed out. But that wasn’t what brought down the house. He stood before the nation holding his torch and began as others do: “I Avi Biton, son of blessed memory”…but he did not stop there. He went on to name every member of his family tree: grandson of, brother of, father of, Grandfather of…on and on until he ended with a blessing that is a religious’ blessing, used to bless God “Who has brought us to this moment.” His voice broke into a sobbing boom as he continued, full of emotion and passion exhorting the people of Israel to be strong and of good courage and to stand and having done all to stand. The usually emotional but dignified ceremony erupted with cheers mixed with tears. He brought us to our knees and thankfully stopped before he was removed from the central spot.
He brought down the house and we successfully, AGAIN, moved from mourning to rejoicing!
Even as the fireworks began, the yummy smells of chicken and meats roasting over open fires (mangle) began to fill the air as other celebrants went downtown to enjoy street parties.
The country opens up all historical and military sites to the public. It is a truly educational day difficult to describe, but the traditional mangle is very much a part of it. We were blessed to partake with our kehila (fellowship) at a beautiful home belonging to a family in our fellowship in the central Binyamin region (the tribe of Binyamin). It was the sweetest of fellowship while large flags blew freely in the wind framing a spectacular view of the country promised, the country given, and the country rising up again from ashes and countless wars for the glory of God Who never fails.
Being that I go to an indigenous Hebrew speaking kehila, we are blessed to have many soldiers and former soldiers. I was not here in the days being described, but still I sat with wonder, knowing that THIS is what God has done, is doing and will do. Not just HISTORY being written and recorded before my eyes, but HIS STORY still in the process of time…and we His witnesses.
But now I come to Friday. It is one thing to sit with believers who know Him and can see the wonder of it all, but it’s miraculous when the door cracks open and we can see His workings in those who do not YET know Him.
As a native English speaking immigrant, most people don’t expect me to understand, so when I asked each one how their yom h’atzmaoot was, each asked me in kind. They did not expect my answer. That I had been with those who “were there” and who had loved ones who “were there.” They didn’t expect that we were with Hebrew speakers out of the city in an Israeli village.
They began to share with me their hearts.
The big discussion that I heard over and over this year from all manner of people – even the most secular – was if yom h’atz’maoot should be declared a full religious holiday. THAT has HUGE implications for the Jewish people. We do NOT declare religious holidays, period! They were set down in Torah (the Bible). Purim was adopted as a religious holiday, but that was MANY years ago.
At work, I heard the discussion repeated again and again. The premise resounding loud and clear, “But this IS a miracle from God!”
My boss would argue, “But the rabbis say that we can not say that this is TRULY Israel until geula (Redemption) has taken place and Messiah has come.”
Again they would say, “But this IS His miracle. His Hand regathering us.”
After working in this doctor’s office for 18 years, I am pretty much part of the family. Inis and Ahron Har Nooie are a sweet gentle couple, somewhat emotional, but both bank professionals so not TOO emotional. As we discussed the subject and Ahron told me, “I shared my story on the radio yesterday. For half an hour. I was in the Sinai when the Egyptians attacked. Oh, that was war! BIG war! My friends were dying all around me. We had so little to fight with but we had to convince them that we had much more than we did. Our Generals were smart…” He went on to describe horrific battles, the pain and grief and the miraculous feats. With big tears he turned to me and said, “You understand! You really do. This is not a game…a nice nice politically correct game. This is survival, but it is BIGGER than that even! I believe that we are STILL WRITING THE PASSOVER STORY. WE ARE STILL FINISHING THE HAGGADAH (the book of the story read at the Passover Seder). We are still coming out of Egypt, but we ARE coming out of Egypt and His Hand IS STILL LEADING US AND THIS IS A RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY. (now this is a secular couple I am speaking about) AND WE HAVE TO KNOW IT AND PROCLAIM IT! WE ARE LIVING A MIRACLE NOW!”
I could have hugged him. He said it most eloquently and pointedly, but dear brothers and sisters, I heard it at least 15 times over and over from different people. THEY RECOGNIZE THAT IT IS INDEED THE WORK OF THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB and they are hungry to know the rest.
I have never had a yom h’atz’maoot like this one.
SOMETHING that I can’t quite see has changed or progressed or moved.
Seasons change and indeed they are running! Jerusalem Day is up next on 6th of June. May we each be found IN HIM ALONE…With our eyes fixed upon Him…for His glory.
your sister J