Inside Israel – His Open Doors

 

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel today! Thank you for joining J of Jerusalem as she shares what is happening around her, and for praying!  Now, here’s J . . .

 

Greetings, DEAR Brothers and Sisters, in The Name of Yeshua.  May He be blessed and glorified, and may you be blessed! 
As significant events seem to run faster and faster, does it seem to you (as it does to me) that The Lord is calling us to ‘the quiet’ of His Presence more and more?  It is almost as if He is giving ‘practice drills’ of entering into the safety of The Rock, as practice drills take place around us. And surely there can be nothing more urgent then knowing how to respond, even ‘automatically’, when the crisis suddenly appears…and it most certainly will appear ‘suddenly’ as we are told over and over again in the scriptures.
In the natural too, practice drills have been abundant lately, in this fiery Middle East.  We are still in the midst of major ones, as a matter of fact.  You probably know that Israel and the US are carrying out massive joint exercises this week which include all streams of armed forces from both here and America.  While those are going on, we have had our first ever nationwide earthquake preparedness drill, with the aid of experts from other countries.  And if those two sets of drills with all of their sirens and airplanes aren’t enough, a number of specialized ‘intensive volunteer emergency ‘courses have been taking place (several of you that I know of have been here participatingJ). These are really amazing programs as a large percentage of the volunteers are born again Christians from the nations!  These are people who volunteer to come and help in Israel in case of national emergency, thereby freeing up other emergency professionals for the battle stations.  Some of these training programs are for professional (medical, fire fighting and the like) while others are simply for the willing and able bodied who will offer themselves where ever needed.  These people amaze the country, offering their time at their own expense, knowing that they would be called upon in the most dangerous situations.  What a witness! 
So this is what has been going on in ‘post holiday’ Israel; emergency preparedness.  Simultaneously, The Lord has been faithfully waking me in the night and calling me to Himself and to His Word.  How wonderful when The Holy Spirit takes up the sharpening stone and sharpens us! 
Along with the personal sharpening (and yes, ouch! It can hurt!) He has been marvelously opening doors for me that have remained shut for so many years here…the doors of boldness and sharing. 
I had a rather extraordinary exchange at work this past week with a man of renown in the Jewish world, and I’d like to share it with you.  Feldheim /Pomerantz book company is a very old one which (perhaps 100 years?) is one of the cornerstones in the production of Jewish holy books, scriptures, prayer books as well as books on every topic of concern in Judaism.  The company is established both in America and Israel.  Mr. Feldheim is one of the patients at our office.  He was born in America but made aliyah 51 years ago.  He is an authoritative Rabbi whose advice is sought around the world.  I would have never dared, in the natural, to challenge him! 
However…:
The Lord has His mysterious and surprising ways!  I asked Mr. Feldheim about a particular edition of an interlinear Hebrew English book of Psalms that I was looking for and our conversation took some very interesting turns.  ‘Psalms!  It is an almost impossible book to understand…the words are so hard to grasp.’ He said to me.  I was surprised…and even more surprised when I blurted out ‘Do you really think so?  Why I find that it speaks right to my heart and flows like fresh water.’ He was surprised and followed with this story;  Many years ago (perhaps 100? From what he insinuated) Mr. Pomerantz was asked by a Southern Baptist Church to come to a service for the express purpose of reading Psalm 137 (“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning…”) to them in Hebrew.  They longed to hear it in the Hebrew language.  Mr. Feldheim continued ‘As he began to read it, the entire congregation burst out weeping and could not stop…just hearing the Hebrew!’  Mr. Pomerantz was so deeply moved when they explained how the Psalms spoke directly to their hearts, the Heart of God.’  I smiled ‘Yes, this is how I feel as well.  I am very surprised that you do not.’ I am not sure how our conversation took so many turns, it was quite fast moving, but at one point I bemoaned the fact that so many streams of Judaism forsook the Scriptures and he challenged me.  I told him that my own beloved brother in law is a rabbi, and yet does not believe in God, but believes in Judaism.  He asked me what other areas I thought Judaism was departing from scripture.  Our words seemed to be moving in a dream and I was not choosing what I was saying.  Things that I wasn’t thinking of were coming out of my mouth; “Jewish yoga!” I said.  ‘This is a contradiction of terms and yet it is being taught all over!  The scriptures expressly speak against going to the East and embracing their religious practices, and yet we justify it.’ He thought and nodded reluctantly in agreement.  ‘And what about HALIBUT!?’ I asked him.  ‘What do you mean?’ he wanted to know.  ‘Well, I have brought this up with many rabbis.  Halibut have no gills and no scales and the scriptures say that only fish with gills and scales are kosher.  Rabbis have told me that the day they are born they have gills and scales and so that is enough.  I am from Alaska and I have NEVER seen a halibut with gills and scales, nor a new born halibut…which we wouldn’t eat anyway!  How can this be justified when it is so simply stated?’  Suddenly Mr. Feldheim became very angry with me and his voice rose; ‘Who do you think you are?  You are exalting man’s reasoning over the truth of God!’ To my absolute shock I heard myself say ‘No! It is our traditions that have exalted themselves over God’s simple Truth!’ Who said that? ‘You dare question the sages of history?’ he retorted. My answer taught me ‘No, Mr. Feldheim, I wouldn’t dare, however I believe that God KNEW from the very beginning (it is written!) that we would sin and be dispersed around the world, and that is WHY God set down the law so very very SIMPLY…so that the most SIMPLE of us could understand it and find our way back to Him and please Him even from the very ends of the earth!  He made it simple and NOT complicated…because He loves us!’  Silence.  My heart was strangely quiet as well. He looked down and said quietly; ‘You have a point…yes…you have a point.’  At that moment He was called in for his appointment and I left work before he came out from the doctor. I believe that our interchange was significant.  Please pray for this very influential and yet gentle and humble man.  May he, who really does love The Word, find The Living Word and embrace Him Who will lead the simplest or the most complicated of us into ALL Truth if we love The Truth. 
So yesterday I had an appointment.  The train stop was unusually crowded.  I groaned, dreading being trampled and smashed for the third time in the same day.  A sign flashed on the overhead ‘Expected delays for the next train.  We apologize for the inconvenience.’  This is a very common occurrence.  I waited another 10 minutes and crossed the street thinking perhaps the bus would come.  We USED to have many buses there, but now just one.  20 more minutes…no train and no bus.  Restless crowds gathered at both stops.  I was late.  Reluctantly I flagged down a taxi.  I don’t take taxis often, only when absolutely necessary, but when I got in, this driver looked very familiar…could it be?  He turned to me ‘I know you!’ he smiled.  ‘Yusuf!’ I smiled back. ‘Wow! You remember my name?’ How could I forget!  I had fallen in love with this young Israeli Arab man when our older daughter had an emergency and I had to run out to the moshav where she lived and babysit.  Since she lived out of town it was a pretty expensive drive, but through beautiful country and it had afforded us a good half hour to get acquainted.  I remembered that Yusuf was just 19 years old and one of about 12 kids living out in a small Arab village.  I thought that he was Christian, but he was from a Moslem family and yet he LOVED Jews and loved being Israeli.  He also loved peace and life.  He had such a sweet spirit and we got along famously.  He showed me a picture of his Jewish girlfriend and bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t marry.  He said that he just wished we could all be happy and have a good life.  I LIKED this kid.  I shared a great deal about The Lord with him, as he could handle.  We parted with a special ‘very warm feeling’ for each other.  Here he was again and we were like long lost friends! ‘I can’t believe it is you!’ he said.  ‘Do you know what?  The last time that I met you was the best day of my life!  Really!  I not only made more money then I ever did that day but I was so happy all day and everyone was nice that day!  I told all of the other drivers about you.’ I reminded him right away that it is ALL because of Jesus, and told him that I had prayed for him.  I don’t think that my ‘witness’ has gone very deep, but there is such a sweet connection between the two of us…and well…the ‘chances’ of meeting the same driver TWICE (considering that I so rarely take a taxi and took his from two different areas of the city) makes me suspect that The Lord has a larger plan.  So can I ask you to please also pray for this young man as well, that he also will meet his Lord and mine?
I was going to include a personal update with this email, but it has gotten way too late and too long.  I will try to do that perhaps separately tomorrow.  The Lord is so very faithful, even (or perhaps, especially)  in these uncertain days full of personal crises of all sorts. Even with earth shaking changes going on around us…still softly He comes and speaks. 
You have no idea how I miss each one of you!  God BLESS you!  Your sis
ani b’derek

Inside Israel – Shavuot / Pentecost

God bless you and thank you for coming by for a look inside Israel today!  J of Jerusalem shares with us about Shavuot and her very first time being introduced to it.  Praying that you are blessed as you read!  Now here’s J . . .

SHAVUOT 2012 – 26.05.2012   Jerusalem
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabat…fifty days…they you shall offer a new grain offering to The Lord.  You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves…of fine flour…baked with leaven.  They are the first fruits to The Lord.” Levit 23:15-17
“And it shall be, when you come into the land which The Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it,…and say to Him ‘I declare today to The Lord my God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us…’”  Deut 26:1-3
“And when the day of Pentecost (SHAVUOT) had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…and there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”  Acts 2:1-12
In all fairness, you really must read these three rich, full chapters in their entirety to enter into the joy that is there.  Oh my, but they are a wealth of promise!  And yet…even still…they are (I believe) but ‘seeds’.  And it is from the seeds of these chapters that I bring an ‘offering’ to share with you today…a memory of what The Lord has done during Shavuot/Pentecost in my life. I shared it once before, a long time ago, but perhaps some of you don’t remember. 
First, how is the high holiday of Shavuot celebrated here? Well, in various ways of course, but I will try to give you an overview from my perspective:
As you know, Shavuot (the feast of weeks…it is to take place the day after the 7th shabat following Passover…hence, 50 days or ‘Pentecost’) is one of the 3 main feasts when all Jewish men are commanded to come up to Jerusalem and present themselves with an offering to The Lord.  (The other two are Passover- corresponding to the Resurrection) and Succot (feast of tabernacles).  Today in Israel the celebration is marked by a number of symbolic things (as well as the men still coming up to Jerusalem for the blessing of the Cohanim (or priests). It is often called the ‘birthday of Judaism’, (interestingly, Pentecost is also known as the birth of the Church to many!) the day when the 10 commandments was received by Moses and presented to the 12 tribes.  To celebrate the written Word, handed down from God, many MANY people will study Torah all night long.  These study groups are spread across the nation and are not limited to the religious but have become quite popular with the secular as well.  After a festive dairy meal at sunset tonight, vast crowds will stream through the city – many by torch light and dressed in white – to the Western Wall (the kotel) of the temple where they will sit on plastic chairs or lie on mats on the ground and study and pray with thanksgiving to God for His Word, through the night.  Others will meet in homes, schools, synagogues, offices and even on the beach and in the forest for the night of study) Meanwhile, ever array of cheese cake, blintz, milk product that you can imagine (or BYOND your imagination) has been prepared and will be eaten as though it were a commandment! No one is QUITE sure how this all began (although there are amazingly creative stories to explain it) but there is generally some rabbi who is able to bring a lovely and thought provoking meaning forward.  Yesterday, on the news, one rabbi explained that The Word is pure and living and should be desired as a baby desires its milk as if knowing that it is receiving the very source of it’s life.  Lovely!  Amen.  I’ll drink (milk) to that!  J As a nice note, our Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, held a 2 hour long study of the book of Ruth with his cabinet this week and encouraged the nation to make sure to set the scriptures as not only their history book, but their compass.
AT ANY RATE…this holiday, again, is a particular opportunity to pray for those who are really seeking Truth…that they may FIND HIM Who IS THE LIVING TRUTH, YESHUA! 

More then 20 years ago now, I had a wonderful experience around Shavuot which has always colored the day with wonder for me.  After I was saved and began reading the Bible, I wondered before The Lord what Shavuot was really about and how it concerned me.  We had not celebrated it when I was growing up, as we did the other holidays and from the scriptures I couldn’t really put any significance to it.  At the time I didn’t even realize that it was Pentecost.  (After all…my KJB called it ‘Pentecost’, not Shavuot) 
I received a phone call from my sister one day that went something like this:  “___, (my name)…I’M GETTING MARRIED!”  YAY YAY!  My sister was nearly 39 at the time and had recently been up to Alaska to visit us.  I had talked to her about The Lord more forcefully then ever before and she had really begun thinking…however… in response she had gone back to NY, joined the synagogue and was now marrying a rabbi!  This was NOT the response I had hoped and prayed for.  She continued talking.  “We are to be married right after Shavuot, and OF COURSE you are invited, but I KNOW THAT YOU CAN’T COME…AFTER ALL YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY AND YOU HAVE THE CHILDREN…AND IT’S OK THAT YOU DON’T COME…!” (The undertone being ‘please please don’t come!’)  I nearly broke her eardrums “OF COURSE I’M COMING!  Don’t be SILLY!  You are my only sister and I will be there with bells on!!”  Silence!  “No…you don’t have to.  PLEASE don’t go to the expense…” (Could it be that I was an embarrassment to her?  A Jewish believer, a disciple of Yeshua…did not fit in well to the picture.) I let my joy for my sister swallow up the understandable rejection and began to pray-plan my way to her wedding.  During prayer one morning I felt so certain that The Lord wanted me to bring two, homemade, challot (the braided shabat breads also used for celebrations).  OK.  The airlines were USED to people carrying strange things to and from Alaska…I would bring two challot.  To my joy they came out perfectly.
Armed with my Bible, gifts, and two huge challot tucked under my arms I made my way across the country to the wedding.  I arrived on Shavuot eve (I seem to recall) and we made our way to ‘Susie’s house’.  Susie was an 82 year old scholar in Jewish studies who had been mentoring my sister.  Obviously she knew about me.  She greeted me graciously and I put down the challot.  ‘You have brought 2 challot for your sister’s wedding? May I ask why?’  I told her ‘I prayed and felt that this was what I should bring.’  She glowed!  ‘How amazing!  The temple offering for Shavuot!  Very good!’  I was taken by surprise.  Who knew?  Levit 23 was not yet alive to me so God had literally graced me by placing them in my hands. Everyone smiled approvingly at me. 
The next morning we went to my sister’s synagogue for the Shavuot service.  It was the first one that I ever recall being present at and the first time that I had been in a synagogue for many years.  My sister and her fiancé, my mother and I hustled into a row half way back at the center of the synagogue and I followed along in the unfamiliar prayer book…but wait!  It wasn’t unfamiliar!  Now we were reading from Habakkuk “Lord!  In judgment remember mercy!” then from Ruth…all of the scriptures that we read were ones that I had been praying and my heart began crying out for my people and I prayed along, more and more, in tongues (I did not know Hebrew at the time).  After a long time the elders went up front and removed a scroll from the ‘ahron’ or ‘scroll closet’.  My sister whispered to me that it was the book of Ruth which is read at Shavuot and that it would now be carried around the synagogue for everyone to touch and bless.  The elders prayed together and then suddenly one came running down the aisle …TO ME!  He called me out of my row.  My mother held on to me ‘no, no’ she said…’yes, yes’ he said.  My sister said ‘OY!’.  My nearly brother in law held his head in his hands.  I figured that they were going to take me out and stone me.  INSTEAD…they took me up front. “What should I do?”  I questioned.  “…I don’t know…” he said “It is ok.  We will show you what to do.”  They put me behind the scroll, which they carried, and said ‘You follow behind and pray’(!!!)  This was A BIT BIZARRE to me…!  ‘GOD!  ONLY YOU COULD ARRANGE SUCH A THING!’  So there I was…following the scroll around the synagogue as the some 3-400 congregants reached out and touched it, kissing their hands first, and I?  I was weeping and praying at the top of my voice in tongues for the salvation of all of them! 
When I went back to my seat, my sister and my brother in law both had their heads in their hands and my mother explained to me ‘They were honoring your sister,’ Ok.  Whatever it was…I was blown away!
After the service I approached the elder who had chosen me ‘May I ask why you chose me? Thank you for honoring my sister.’  He was searching my face and the rabbi joined us ‘I don’t know who your sister is, but you are a lover of God!  You are a lover of God! Are you from Russia?’  At this point The Lord put His all knowing Hand on my heart and said ‘Shhh!  Not now…you will have another chance to share’ so I said ‘Yes, I am a lover of God, but I am not from Russia.’ He said ‘It doesn’t matter.  You are a lover of God and that is why we chose you.  Thank you!’ 
Oh, I DID get a chance to share with the rabbi (that was at my sister’s wedding the following day…and a totally different story!) but I will never forget my introduction to Shavuot, and this holiday has continued to hold an awe of anticipated unexpected joy for me concerning things yet unknown to me that WILL break forth…in His time!
So now we are preparing to leave for our yearly Shavuot celebration held in a wonderful Bedouin tent on a mountain top in Yad h’Shmonah (a believer’s moshav on the hills that border 3 of the tribes of Israel).  We will share a meal, worship and testimony, and I will bring my two loaves of challa. 
I hope to get back to writing some more ‘everyday’ letters soon.  SO much has happened, as usual in this land of so-much-happening.  Thank you for praying for our family and for our land and people. God bless you with His Presence.  Lovingly, your sis
ani b’derek
Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 6:43 am  Comments (8)  
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