The last night (and day) of Passover is quickly drawing near and once again preparations for a ‘final sedar’ (for some) or ‘festive meal’ for others, are being made. Outside of Israel an eighth day of Passover is observed, originally because of the time difference between outside of the land, and Jerusalem (before ‘time’ became so ‘digital’ and easily measured, observant Jews were afraid that if they ended the holiday ‘too early’, before it was officially over in Jerusalem, they were perhaps falling short of what was required, and so the tradition came into effect). In many homes there will be another sedar which focuses on the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea (actually ‘Reed Sea’ – the Sea of Reeds) and the subsequent rejoicing and exalting of God through Miriam’s song…and…cautions NOT to fall into the complaining that so soon followed; a worthy lesson indeed! However, for most, it will simply be a festive, thankful meal, not without thanksgiving just to get back to a more normal routine!
There have been times of significant moves of God and displays of His Greatness during Passover, and I long more and more to see Him in His Sovereign Holiness again. I read about the Passover in 2 Chron:30 during the blessed season that Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, and then 2 Chron:35, when Judah was again blessed through having Hezekiah as king. Both of these wonderful chapters described true revival; and they both took place during Passover. Ezra 6 also describes a blessed Passover, and then there is Luke 22 (among all of the other references,) when Yeshua brings us again to the Passover…and…becomes our Lamb!
After reading these portions (just ‘happened’ that way!) while preparing for Passover, God stirred me more and more to look for Him in the feast. I found myself, instead of searching for the leaven, searching for The Lord, and He never disappoints! (although we often wait long and are stretched) I learned something fascinating during our sedar this year. We were at the home of friends, a local pastor and his wife whom we’ve known since we first came. During the course of the evening we began talking about the ‘afikomen’. Many of you are quite familiar with all of the Passover traditions by now, having been told by me, or by others, or by being brought up with them yourselves, but since others might be newer to all of this, I will try to explain. At the beginning of the Passover sedar, the ‘head’ of the sedar (the person leading it) takes 3 matzos and sets them apart. (This act actually officially begins the sedar) He then takes out the MIDDLE matzo for everyone to see…to see that it is ‘striped’ and unbroken…He then breaks it in half and he wraps it separately (yet in the middle of the 3). This piece is called ‘afikomen’. During the several hours of the sedar service and meal, afikomen is hidden, and the service and meal may not be concluded until it is found (it becomes a treasure hunt for the children) – ransomed back by the leader of the service (usually there is a gift or some money set aside for this, or the children have already decided what to ask for)…taken, and divided among all present. This concludes the sedar. According to Jewish tradition, it is sort of a mystery, and no one can really say where it originated, but the first sedar that I was at after I was saved thrilled me to the core as I saw the PERFECT PICTURE OF YESHUA…The center matzo…pierced, broken, hidden from all of his brothers (the Jews) until He is revealed and shared at the end of the meal…stating ‘IT IS FINISHED’! WOW!
Ok…that was background. One of the men at the sedar is an Israeli from Brazil, but his family lived first for generations in Syria before the Jewish expulsion from there. He is an evangelist and a linguist. We began to speak about afikomen and he said that it was first inserted into the sedar by the early believers. Although it made so much sense (and the rabbis are clueless as to where it came from) I was skeptical. Other’s chimed in; “The word ‘afikomen’ is Greek” said one. Another added that it is the same in Turkish and that all of the Greek and Turkish Jews know that it originated with the early believers! The pastor (made aliyah from Finland), whose home we were at, verified this, as did others. (It was a very ‘assorted’ group of people there with a number in active ministry.) There was a large Israeli family from Venezuela, an Israeli sister who works with CBN Israel, another family, the only non-Israelis, who work with a humanitarian group in the Palestinian areas and teach Bible studies where they explain the calling and roots of the Jews! Amazing group of people! One by one they added in their knowledge that in the countries that they were from it was well known that this tradition was begun by the earliest believers (like the sign of the fish). What a wonderful new dimension it added to my rejoicing in the revelation of The Lord in the Passover, and indeed, in all of the feasts that He has given as a gift to us!
I began to write the above last night, but was unable to finish, so here we are – the last day of Pesach already. So much preparation, so much intensity…is it something like the end of the age, or the last day that each of us will individually spend on earth? I mean…we live and run around and do our daily chores and SUDDENLY…we will come face to Face with eternity and The Eternal One! Wow! (well…this is how my tired thoughts are running today so please forgive me if it just got ‘heavy’!)
Earlier this week I had wanted to share an encounter that I had that stopped me, and I think I will do that now, at the risk of overloading you: I had gone for a blood test and sat down in another area to wait a few minutes before leaving. I was across from a cardiologist’s office, and I heard English being spoken. My husband is looking for a new cardiologist – preferably one who can speak English, so I asked the man who came out if that was Dr. Gvish (whose name was one of the names on the door). The man, about 40, surprised me by saying ‘I don’t know’. Seemed a bit strange to me, not to know the name of your cardiologist, so I asked him where he was from and found that he had immigrated from Calif. Then he told me that he was a veteran of Afghanistan and had been severely wounded resulting in metal plates in his back and shoulders. ‘How are you doing here?’ I asked him. ‘The compassion of the medical profession here is really something!’ he said. I agreed heartily, and then he added, ‘I have never seen such hard heartedness in my life! They don’t know anything about pain here!’ What?!? That shocked me. I laughed…’I’m sorry’, I said, ‘my experience has been the opposite. What has brought you to that conclusion?’ He said ‘Well, when I was at Walter Reed Hospital, they just gave me morphine like water and codeine all day. They would say ‘here’s your candy!’. Here, they act as if these drugs are poison and I need permission from this doctor and that pharmacy…’ I began to understand: he had become a drug addict. ‘It is a philosophical difference.’ I began. Since you were in Afghanistan, you weren’t here during the last intifada, were you,’ I said. ‘That hasn’t been our bloodiest war, but it is the bloodiest thing that I have ever experienced. Over 1,000 civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands injured with blast injuries aimed to blow people to bits. We learned to treat pain with pain management and post traumatic stress counseling here least we become a country of drug addicts…’ I added a great deal more and asked him if he had tried these programs here. He told me that he did but didn’t like them. Then I showed him my burns. Nearly 30 years ago I received 3rd degree burns and was in hospital for 6 weeks. He cringed, knowing how painful burns are. I told him that ‘Since I had been addicted to drugs in the past and was now free, when they insisted on giving me morphine drip I refused it. (this was in America.) They told me that without it I would go into shock and perhaps die. I told them that I would not…and I won. I took one shot before the daily ‘rebreeding’ treatments. (where dying skin is cut away and scrubbed) God sustained me.’ He became uncomfortable, so I backed off. I listened to him some more, my heart full of compassion for him. Suddenly he said ‘There is my wife. Nice talking to you’, and left. Immediately the doctor came out and asked where he had gone, so I went to look for him. I found him in the lab (perhaps trying to find an opportunity to grab some needles?) ‘The doctor is calling you.’ I told him. ‘No thanks. I’m done with him.’ How terribly sad. I am so thankful that this country deals with pain as it does. Although I don’t have this man’s name, perhaps you would like to join in prayer for him to be set free.
And speaking of prayer: Baby Netaley is now in the unique children’s’ rehab hospital to help rehabilitate her damaged brain and body. Please keep her and her parents in prayer. If any of you want to be inspired and either have, or have or know someone on facebook, (I am not but have followed using our daughter’s) please follow along and encourage them under Prayer for Netaley (open to all). You can also google ALYN HOSPITAL JERUSALEM to see the AMAZING work of this hospital that is rated the best of it’s kind in the world for young people. It is worth your time to look at!
And now…our own personal update. Here goes. TODAY, our younger daughter finally arrived in Ypsilanti Michigan USA. She is to be selling Dead Sea products in a mall. THANK YOU FOR THOSE WHO WILL BE JOINING ME IN PRAYER FOR HER AND HER FRIEND. There is more ‘news’ that has been difficult for me to share…quite a month of ‘changes’ for our family! I’ll do it in chronological order: a couple of days after our daughter left (and us storing her things) we were told by our neighbor that the housing committee of owners had voted to completely renovate (gut) the building that we have been living in for the past 17 years. In all truth, I can use it: it is BECAUSE of poor state of our apartment that we have been blessed by a rent that cannot be equaled anywhere we have looked. It looks as if our dreaded move lies ahead of us. I KNOW that The Lord will go before us and make a way, and it will be His and right. Right now…it is just a bit unsettling. This news was followed by another change that is not in our hands; our son in law has applied for his ‘dream job’…in Calif USA…and it looks as if he will get it. He must now go for the face to face interview. A month ago we were a full family here…planted in the land that God DID send us to…now…many changes that are causing me to lift my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my salvation! My hope is in The Lord; The Lord Who made heaven and earth.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS FOR THE LORD’S WILL TO BE DONE IN OUR FAMILY, FOR HIS PURPOSES AND GLORY!
God bless and keep each of you…my dear brothers and sisters! Thank you for your grace toward me. Lovingly, your sis in Jerusalem Israel