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 —
Greetings Dearest Brothers and Sisters in THE NAME of HIM Whose words alone are TRUE AND FAITHFUL. May He be blessed and glorified and may you be edified and blessed by Him.
As I walked to work I found myself wondering how many more Springs will I see on this earth? Morbid? I don’t think so because all I could do at the thought was worship Him and open my eyes and ears wider to taste the incredible beauty that surrounds at this time of year.
I know that many of you are still battling freezing winds and shoveling huge mountains of snow, but here in Jerusalem our warm and way too dry winter has blossomed into balmy spring days. The buds are bursting with promises of pomegranates, grapes, olives, cherries, citrus and just so many fruits and flowers too numerous to mention. The birds see it and sing with such a rejoicing. Our wild parrots fly overhead, piercing the sky with their songs. Wild canaries join a refrain with my own dear canary. It is like a heavenly chorus of “RESURRECTION. NEW LIFE. ALL THINGS NEW.” What can I say? IT’S JUST BEAUTIFUL!
AND there is a cacophony of the song of peoples as well, here in Jerusalem.
The nations are gathering again and I am watching it from a unique vantage point.
From the nations, Christians are arriving from all over the world to celebrate the Resurrection of Messiah. Also, from around the world Jews are gathering to celebrate the ancient promises of the Passover. Locals are scrubbing out the leaven and reassuring one another that He looks upon the heart, and that we do “the best we can” to scrub our homes, but the heart is the most important. How true it is!
I see groups large groups arrriving from Asia, South America and Africa along with many more from Europe and North America and the Island continents of Australia and New Zealand. All of the languages mingle together.
I never thought much in the past about the flavors and customs of worship that the different nations bring with them. I remember being shocked when one year someone referred to the cultural Christianity of America. I thought, “Oh no! I just believe The Word as it is. I am not influenced by the culture…no sir…not me!”
Was I ever wrong. And yet it did take years for me to see it in myself and then a certain helplessness, a crying out to God for Him to change me. I am just flesh and blood, “HELP ME!”
Well, now I RECOGNIZE the influence, but I know that it is only through spending more time in HIS kingdom than on this earth can I be free from its influence and I’m not there yet. Are any of us?
So, as I walk the streets and see pilgrims from other lands and see how some wear particular identifying clothing. Some wear or carry huge wooden crosses, some carry eggs and I’ve even seen bunnies, some speak of this tradition or that. It is matched just as fully by the traditions that Jews bring with us from other countries, traditions, and even families.
It is like a huge orchestra here right now with so many different instruments playing in front of me. I wonder if this is the year and perhaps The Lord will put His lips to the Trumpet and bring forth a heavenly sound, instead of all of this busy confusion.
My attention was drawn to a VERY old lady, nearly bent in two. She was wearing an old cotton house dress, the sort that is seen here on VERY old ladies and look more and more sensibly appealing to me these days. She had a babushka on her head and a shawl around her shoulders and a large cane in her hand. She was bending even lower than her hunched back normally held her.
As I draw near I saw that she was emptying a bag of food for the cats, who were running toward her. We have two groups of cat people here, well perhaps three. One just really likes cats. But then there are the cat people. Every community likely has some of those. They ALSO just really like cats but take it a BIT FURTHER than normal. But we have a third group and this woman made me think back into our history, for these people were much younger when we arrived in the country and I remember seeing them back then.
As we approach our 70th re-birthday and 50th re-unification celebration, I remember hearing the stories of “THE CATS OF JERUSALEM.” I was curious as to the great number of stray cats that were SO FAT and well cared for. They seemed a protected lot and indeed they were and that with good reason.
You might recall that before Jerusalem was restored to Israel, it was under Jordanian control. The Jordanians had filled the Jewish quarter, including the synagogues of the old city with rubbish and the carcasses of unclean animals. The filth was indescribable. I know that Mark Twain wrote about it in his journeys to Jerusalem as did many others.
Along with the filth came disease of course and rats and other varmints! The solution decided upon was: CATS. Cats were imported and encouraged and treated as dear friends. They basically became a protected species and EVERYONE considered it their sacred duty apparently, to feed them. Yes, they DID overcome the scourge of the rats.
When we first came, I remember how they freely roamed restaurants, often climbing up on tables begging for food and I was surprised that no one shooed them away. There is less of that now, but the cats of Jerusalem remain a reminder of a moment of history.
And history or “HIS story” really is the center of the preparation time that we have entered. A week from this coming Friday, at sundown, the entire country will sit down to the first Seder (just before Resurrection Sunday), really the centerpiece of the Jewish religion. Exodus 12:1-3 –
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.”‘
verses 6-11 continue:
“Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.”
We know that throughout the First Covenant and the Prophets, the keeping of the Passover is as central as the keeping of the Shabbat and of course the Last Supper is well documented through the Gospels as having been the Passover Seder. This lamb being THE LAMB, The Perfect Lamb without spot or blemish, the perfect Sacrifice once and for all, for you and for me, Who rent the veil and conquered death so freely for us.
It’s just all too big! Too beautiful! Even more beautiful and more glorious than the Spring – the shadow of NEW LIFE.
It is as if it is stamped over our “kosher for Passover” food labels: THERE IS NO FEAR IN DEATH. HE HAS CONQUERED THE GRAVE.
But as the people of the Book, most of us still sit under the curse of “Let their eyes be darkened, seeing not to see and hearing not to hear.”
I know that the moment that I saw, it LITERALLY was as if scales fell off of my eyes and it was instantaneous.
SO, for the present, we are two celebrations of the greatest events of HIS story weaving together in a dance through Jerusalem.
But for us here year around IT’S ALSO A LOT ABOUT CLEANING AND PREPARATION. Scrub those cracks and wash those materials, checking each shelf for leaven. Many clean all books thoroughly to make sure that there is not one crumb in it. We are reminded that dust is NOT leaven least we break down with the “Passover syndrome.” Out with the old and in with the new as people replace items that they fear might not be clean enough, even tables, refrigerators and stoves. With the FOOD being replaced, the shuk and shops are JAMMED. The stalls overflow with fresh stalks of huge garlic and fragrant strawberries. Boxes of matzo and “kosher for Passover” sweets line the road.
And speaking of lining the road, the scrubbers are out in full force, thanks to the City of Jerusalem. Street cleaning is non-stop.
So, we prepare for another cycle that reminds us “THE LORD IS FAITHFUL, THE LORD IS FAITHFUL…And in the midst I remember that IT IS ONLY ABOUT THE LORD. NOT what He has done or what He will do, not about His promises or His gifts or His commands or His miracles. It is all about HIM ALONE and I turn to worship The King, just as you do. Will I be here or in His kingdom at the next cycle? HE knows, and that is all that matters. It is about Him and not about us.
WHEW! WHAT A RELIEF! We really are NOT the center of it all…and that is GRAND!
Least you think that I am ill…no I am not. I do have some dear friends who are currently fighting for His will in their lives, but it just becomes so clear to me that WE HAVE A KINGDOM…and The King of that kingdom has told us that this world of shadows and pictures is just for now and the best is yet to come! We shall all gather together in that day at His triumphant feast. TOGETHER!
May Yeshua h’meshiach – Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the risen Son of The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, be blessed and glorified.
your sister J