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,
May you be blessed and encouraged…and O Lord, please be glorified and blessed.
Mountains of garbage, sometimes life feels like that and sometimes it is right outside your window. Thankfully they are collecting it now, but there is nothing quite like a garbage strike in Jerusalem and the symbolic timing of it seemed perfect to me.
I haven’t been feeling too well lately, so I groaned as I came downstairs in time for the 6:30 a.m. train, 15 minutes later than the train that I would take if I were planning to walk part way to work. My morning exercise. But the groan passed through my lips as I read the moving sign (in Hebrew, Arabic and English) which said: “Due to disruptions on the tracks, there will be no train service between the Central Bus Station and Damascus Gate.” That means that I would have to find a bus at the Central Bus Station and weave my way to work.
I joined the other disgruntled early morning passengers in wondering what the disruption was this time. Rock throwers? Unidentified packages for the bomb squad to dismantle? I pray for the security workers to be kept safe. At the Central bus station another groan arises as we see that the next bus is still 18 minutes away.
The morning is cold and rainy and the bus stop already full when our train arrives. Three more trains will arrive and deposit yet more displaced travelers every 6 minutes. When the bus finally does arrive, I am thankful for the fact that age is honored here and younger people generally rise for their elders. So, on this very crowded bus I have a seat, and I praise God for it, and thank the young man who gave it to me. The seat affords me a good view of the piles of garbage.
As we snake our way toward the Shuk, the piles become mountains and the mountains become slimy with crushed fruit and vegetables melting in the downpour. It’s ghastly. I had tried to make sense out of this particular city strike, which we had heard rumblings about for a while. No one seemed to know quite for sure WHAT the gripe was, but the city was claiming that a large amount of extra budget grant promised had not yet been paid. It was not designated for any particular project that I could discern, nor was the problem paychecks, and certainly not for the garbage collection, so it sounded to me like coercion.
I understood later that there were plans (carried out a bit later because at 6:30 the disrupted tracks were still clear) to pile the train tracks in the Shuk area with garbage. By the time that I returned home the tracks were indeed covered with tomato/banana/orange volcanoes. Yech! The whole city, called His by God Almighty, was filthy and that saddens everyone. I know that when my home is messy it is hard to come before The Lord and I thought about what a blessing cleanliness and order are. It is easy to hide an explosive device in the disarray of garbage. I find that if I am cluttered, the enemy of my soul has an easier time hiding and attacking as well.
But thankfully, before I finished writing the above two days ago, the garbage strike ended and the army of sanitation workers labored through the night to restore order to the city. My “garbage-meditation” ended with several days of cleansing rains and cold winter weather. The sun broke out, clear and clean through the newly washed air, bright, crystal clear, revealing what the summer dust storms had veiled.
Rain, sun and yes even fertilizer…and the inevitable happens. The branches begin to swell and small buds press their way into the tips of branches. The older I get, the more years I see it, the more WONDERFUL it is, HIS FAITHFULNESS no matter what our own personal devastation is, the upheavals of death and war and horrors, the seasons reflect His faithfulness THROUGH IT ALL. It blows me away EVERY TIME!
Two mornings ago, I heard the first morning bird wake the dawn. My, it’s COLD out and yet the morning bird knows his season and returns. My husband looked out the window later the same day. “Hey! There’s a PARROT in the tree outside.”
He was right. We have these smallish wild parrots here, several kinds actually and I love watching them. They are green and have a wonderful song. Another first sign that the cold winter WILL eventually pass.
In the Shuk, the price of strawberries has not come down this year. Come to think of it, none of the prices have. We are blessed with amazing strawberries and different kinds of Clementine’s and other citrus throughout the winter. Winter grapes, apples, and this year persimmons still fill the Shuk stalls. Soup pots boil with wonderful fragrant vegetable and bean soups, lentils, barley, roots and all sorts of spices blending to design the beautiful Middle Eastern tapestry that I admire and give thanks for. He has been so good to us, in spite of our unfaithfulness.
The Middle East. I often have to shake myself and remember that, yes, I live in the Middle East. I hear the minarets’ shrill electronic call to Moslem prayer at least in the morning hours when the traffic is not yet causing all sound to blend into a dull roar. I see the streets full of children running in large groups, laughing, as crime against children is not an issue here thankfully. I see the general public sitting at outside tables lining the streets in all weather, cold or hot, wet or dry, drinking coffee or eating yummy salads, shakshuka, or an endless array of healthy Middle Eastern food or ice cream.
Soldiers run up to one another like piles of puppies, jumping on one another and hugging, uzzis (weapons) bumping, backpacks full of dirty laundry, which means they are heading home. Clean means they are heading back to base. The trains and buses full of young soldiers, girls and guys. Yes, it’s my home now and I do find that I take it for granted and forget that this scene is so unique.
The Shaheen family was in the Dr. Office where I work. I’ve mentioned before that we have a number of Christian Israeli Arab families who come to the Doctor with whom I work. They know that I am a believer and I greatly admire them. They are such a small minority in the midst of rabidly growing Moslem extremism. They come against dangers from Moslems and are not fully part of the Jewish society. They stand alone, and generally their faith is more of a traditional faith then a deeply rooted one in The Word and Spirit.
I watch their children struggle (very often a similar struggle to the children of Jewish believers here, as we are also a small group) with the temptations to be accepted and become radicalized. They are generally very patriotic to Israel and often the children find themselves in a love relationship with a Jewish partner and the problem deepens. I ask the Shaheens how their children are doing. I can see the worry in their eyes as they tell me that two are studying in France. France has become a strong radical hotbed. Their other son, Rami, is here and he is a joy, but he is not finding someone, a good girl, to marry. The name “Rami” is also a Jewish name and Rami has been raised well.
My heart goes out to these and prayers for God to honor them with godly spouses.
The Kobti family has successfully raised their children. All are doctors or professionals in other lines, and most married Christian Arabs who were living in other countries, but one lovely young man’s wife has become an Israel basher to the grief of the whole family. I often think of this faithful group of people knowing that it is God Who walks with each one of us through the paths of His own choosing.
On another subject, a long time ago I remember explaining that city land taxes (called arnona) are paid by renters here, sort of a double whammy. When we first made aliyah going on 23 years ago, we found that our life savings wasn’t enough to buy an apartment. It is EXPECTED here that citizens will own an apartment and not rent.
Immigrants from many countries receive an apartment grant but from the richer countries this is not so. We were among those who fell through the cracks, and so we have rented for all of these years, and will continue to do so, unless He chooses otherwise.
I remember when we first made aliyah, we were told IMMEDIATELY that you do NOT plan to do more than one bureaucratic chore in a day. For example: You need to go to the post office. Do NOT plan to also go to the bank. AND if you should need to go to City Hall or Bituach Leumi (sort of national insurance office) figure two days at least per chore. I laughed back then. I THOUGHT that it was a joke. Wrong! Well, I have gotten used to this now, but had to laugh at a text message that I just got from a friend, a dear sister who is a volunteer here and is renting her own apartment and learning the ropes. Her plan was to go to City Hall today and straighten out her arnona bill.
Her text read: “Not today…computers down.” I had to chuckle and wonder if the City is continuing its strike action. Please forgive me sharing these inside jokes with you. If our enemies knew how things are run here, I suspect that we might be in trouble, but perhaps that is the beauty of all of the belegan (uproar, confusion, mess), the fruit reveals the Merciful Hand of God Almighty Who put us here and certainly not our own efficiency.
But some things are particularly fun.
I just checked the Jerusalem weather on our nifty little local site and it showed a lighter jacket and a CLOTHES PIN, meaning: yes, it’s a good time to dry clothes. I love it! When we first came the morning weather report would be complete with “open your windows and air out the mold” and “don’t forget to take a sweater today.”
AND there was an elderly man at the bus stop who scolded our (then) slightly rebellious 13 year-old daughter, “TIE YOUR SHOE LACES YOUNG LADY! THAT IS SLOPPY!” She dutifully bent over to tie them. It is not considered interference here, it is considered “family.”
Thank you for truly being my family. I am encouraged through you. I would ask for prayer for many things, but one in particular, I have been deeply exhausted lately, more than usual. I KNOW that He is The Source of all strength. I thank you for prayers.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Your sister J in Jerusalem
(Below, I am enclosing an article from the Jan. issue of HERALD OF HIS COMING that touched me deeply for those who might be interested)
God Has A Word For This Hour
This is a tremendous hour in human history. There are ominous movements in the world. But I am constrained to ask, Has the Lord no plan for this hour? Has the church no message? Is there no word from the Lord concerning the spiritual recovery of this hour? If not, then this is the first time in history that a major crisis has arisen under a silent heaven.
Before God destroyed the earth with a flood, He put His message of warning in the mouth of Noah. When God judged Egypt, He sent Moses and Aaron to Pharoah with a divine pronouncement on their lips. God raised up Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah in times of crisis in Israel and Judah. They had God’s word for the hour in which they lived (Heb. 11:7; Ex. chaps. 5-14; 1 Kgs. 17:1).
And God has a word for this hour!
A Call to Repentance!
People are awakening to the fact that we are living in a solemn hour, and that our nation’s greatest need is a revival that will bring us to God. There is a swelling tide of intercession to God – pleading for God’s intervening mercies and for a new Pentecost upon the churches.
What was true of Israel of old is true of us today. Whenever declension of spiritual power is felt, the root cause is sin in the church. Whittled down a little closer, the root cause of conditions in the world is the sin of individual Christians. This is a time for flaming messages, inspired of the Holy Ghost, preached fearlessly by men who do not fear the consequences – calling men everywhere to repentance!
In God’s program for this hour, repentance must begin with Christians, who must turn in penitence from their worldliness, prayerlessness, indifference, and the dangerous sloth and sleep. They must repent of their carnal strivings for position and place, and of their deadly church quarrels and denominational jealousy. The unrepented, unconfessed sins of God’s people have chilled the atmosphere of the church until people are driven away.
It is high time for the pulpit to thunder and burn with the power and fire of the ancient prophets and apostles of our Lord! It is high time for God’s people to awake from their Laodicean slumber, and strip themselves from their love of the world and love of self, and from the deceit, sham and hypocrisy of their shallow professions – and to turn to the Lord with all their heart, with fasting and tears, and with contrition and confession and restitution.
Where is the church “terrible as an army with banners” (Song 6:4)? Where are the Lord’s people whose prayers, like John Knox’s are the terror of evil rulers like Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots? Where is the Gospel being preached with such unction and power from God that the enemies of God say, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6)?
Why are not these things true of us today? Because of the failure of God’s people, because sin is tolerated in their lives and hugged to their bosoms. It is not perhaps great, blatant sin. It may be only a multitude of little chiseling sins which have cooled off our love for Christ and our passion for lost souls, and dulled our spiritual ears so we cannot hear the voice of the Lord, and dimmed our spiritual sight so we have lost the vision of a world ripe for harvest, and palsied our hands and made us unfit for His service – leaving us carping and critical Christians (Song 2:15; Eccl. 10:1; 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).
“By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them” (Matt. 7:20)
In the Song of Solomon, which contains wonderful church truth in figurative language, the Heavenly Husbandman says: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes” (Song 2:15).
If we are to see a great harvest, we must take out the little foxes. They seem innocent and harmless but they kill the fruit. The little sins and compromises with the world, the flesh and the devil – these kill our usefulness. They must be taken out of our vineyard of the Lord.
Let us confess and forsake all. We will be amazed to find how greatly we need a spiritual housecleaning if we will let God search us and the Spirit probe us to rock-bottom (Psa. 139:23-24; 1 Chr. 28:9).
Some of us will find we have not put God first in our lives but rather we have given place to personal ambition, carnal comforts, and have yielded to the demands of friends and relatives and made God second.
Some of us have sinned directly towards God by rebelling against His known will and stopping our ears to His call to lay down our lives in His service.
Then there are the gross sins of the uncrucified self-life – self-will, selfpleasing, self-glorifying, selfseeking, self-pity, self-confidence, selfish affections, desires, motives, choices – all of which grieve the Spirit and unfit us to answer the call of the Lord to His people in this hour.
Some of us readily get angry, pouty, irritable. There is among us an unforgiving spirit, jealousy and envy (Jas. 3:14-18). With others there are secret and presumptuous sins – but they are not hidden from God (Psa. 19:12-13). There are also the deadly sins of gossip, backbiting, talebearing (Jas. 3:2-13; 2 Cor. 12:20). All of these God hates (Prov. 6:16-19). They close His door of blessing and hinder His answer to our prayers for our home, our community, our nation and the world.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear…. Your hands are defiled…your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth” (Isa. 59:1-4).
We need God! We tremendously need a revival of the supernatural. Nothing but a great visitation of the grace of God can in any wise redeem these present perilous hours. Impending disasters warn us. God’s Word warns us. The Holy Spirit warns us. “It is time for Thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law” (Psa. 119:126). “Revive Thy work in the midst of the years” (Hab. 3:2).
I believe this is God’s hour for the Spirit’s outpouring. But God’s great present purposes in grace are dependent upon the whole-souled response of us – His people.
Therefore it is of vast importance to us whose hearts have been stirred about a visitation of God – that we leave no stone unturned in ourselves, meeting conditions for revival in our own heart, in our church, our community, our nation and the world.
Even if we cannot find in Scripture a specific promise of God’s mercies to us in this hour, there is, in almost every divinely sent message of judgment, the promise of salvation and deliverance if men and women will humble themselves and seek the face of God in repentance and in faith.
Think of the salvation of Nineveh, that wicked heathen city of ancient times. God’s prophet Jonah was sent with the message of doom, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon. 3:4). No mercy was promised. But the king and the people must have reasoned like this, “If God had no gracious thought toward us, He would not have sent us this warning.” So they repented in sackcloth and ashes and with fasting cried mightily unto God, and God was moved to mercy and revoked His edict of judgment (Jon. 3).
If the God of all mercies would do so much for heathen Nineveh, when she repented, will He not do as much for His own people, if we repent and turn from our worldliness and selfishness to seek the Lord till He come and rain righteousness upon us (Hos. 10:12)?
The annals of sacred history are filled with accounts of God’s undefeatable minorities. To the worldly-wise they appear foolish, weak, contemptible. But – plus God, they have become mighty, invincible, unquenchable and triumphant! They have time and again altered the course of history, and changed the face of nations. Without strength, they have wrought prodigious works. Without influence, they have transformed their generation. Of such was the Apostle Paul, Luther, Wesley. Thank God their tribe has not perished in these – our times.
What would happen today if Christians would cease to trifle and go all-out for God? What if we would obey the Lord and fast and pray day and night, that we might be avenged of our enemies (Luke 18:7-8)? What if we would get right with God, and with each other? Without doubt this would bring a visitation of God.
I pray you do something today about the evils and dangers all about us. It is a time for fasting and tears and prayer unceasing. Begin today! If you will, we shall have one of the greatest visitations of all time!
Revival Is the Beginning of a New Obedience to God
“If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then I will give you rain (revival) in due season, and the land shall yield her increase …and ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you…And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight” (Lev. 26:3-8).