Pre-Israel Thoughts – January 27, 2014

Several weeks ago I was visiting a old friend, a woman who has known me since before I met my husband over 30 years ago.  As I was leaving her home, she hugged me and said, “Have a wonderful trip.  You’re going to the Promised Land!”

The Promised Land.  Those words sounded so different coming from her mouth than I had ever heard them before.  The Promised Land.  The Land of Promise.  I, little ole me,  am going to ‘the PROMISED land.’  That’s how I heard those words – a promised land  was happening to me.

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).

When I was a about 8 years old, my parents took me to a little gathering of people to see a slide show of some relatives who had just returned from the Holy Land.  I had no idea what or where the Holy Land was nor did they ever explicitly say, but I was fascinated to think there was a land that was considered holy.  I don’t remember much about the slide show except that these people were somehow really special because they had gone to the holy land and no one else had.    Now, I’m thinking about that same place as a land of promise, to me.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

I am not DNA Jewish that I know of so I don’t think of going to The Promised Land as going ‘home.‘  But,  like Abraham who was called out of the Ur of the Chaldez, I’m going to a place I’ve never been before.  I’ve seen photographs, watched wonderful DVD programs, heard others’ stories of their adventures in places with familiar names.  Most people talk about walking where Jesus walked and taught in Jerusalem and the Galilee.  I think about the prophet Elijah and Mount Carmel, the Valley of Meggido where all nations will gather to destroy Israel and being where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice only to receive a substitute ram in a thicket.  I can’t wait to hear the shofar on the Shabbat at the Western Wall,  hike trails in En Gedi where David hid from King Saul and go into the caves at Qumran where the Essenes hid clays jars filled with Biblical scrolls to protect them from destruction.   These people are the foundational stones of archaeological digs that  Yeshua spoke of when he said “If they (the people) keep quiet the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).

I expect to see Jewish people leaving the plane and kissing the ground with tears in their eyes.  Jews who are making aliyah or returning to their homeland after generations of exile.   That is part of the ingathering prophesied before Yeshua’s return.  I am blessed and overwhelmed to be living in such a time as this and be able to witness a mini-second.  The Jewish people are living proof that my God lives and keeps his eternal promises.  They live in their own land.  They are a holy nation.   Yes, the Promised Land.

Ezekiel 28:25 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob.”

I expect to be a lot confused by Hebrew.  It is such a fascinating language with deep historical connections as well as being a revived modern language.  Even though I’ve studied and crammed as much as  I could inside my brain, I can only hope to be able to read parking signs, ask where the restrooms are, and not eat something that I really don’t like – like cucumbers.

Every time someone asks, “Aren’t you afraid? worried?”, my friend’s words, “You’re going to the Promised Land” come to mind.  No, I’m not afraid or worried except when it comes to the basics of figuring out a different culture, getting lost while driving or walking,  and not cramming too much in one day with not enough time to eat.

As for the prospect of war, which is what they are really asking, no, I am not worried.  In the event of an ‘incoming’ siren, I’ll just follow the crowd to the nearest bomb shelter and hope that I don’t have to wear a gas mask – I tend to get claustrophobic.  But, if it happens, it happens.  He will give me the power to do what He asks me to do and hopefully, I’ll be a faithful witness to Him in life or death.   After all,  I will be in His Land of Promise to His people.   He has brought them back to their Land from all the nations of the world and I’m sure He’s quite able to protect them and me in it.  There’s nowhere else in the world where God has put His Name, only Jerusalem, Israel; and He will never forsake that which He owns and possesses.  If I am there at the time of destruction, don’t be jealous that I will witness firsthand the miraculous deliverance of God.

People I know who live there speak about how ripe the Israelis are for knowing their Messiah.  Their hopelessness in the world, their fear at what may come upon them from Iran, makes them seek salvation, Yeshua.  I can only hope and pray that when all those opportunities arise (which they will because they do when we’re NOT in Israel) that I plant good seeds, am able to put living water on seeds that have already been planted and maybe even reap a tiny bud of firstfruit.  My heart is and has always been for the Jewish people that they may know their own Jewish Messiah.  At the moment, I live in a place without even one Jew.  So, for me, this is just one fleeting moment like that day several years ago in Union Square on the Shabbat when I told one Jewish man that the Messiah doesn’t live in Brooklyn.   May I be found faithful with what little I will be given.

So, next week, off I will go to the Promised Land on a long flight that will probably end with swollen feet and utter confusion navigating unfamiliar roads with impatient drivers while, like so many millions before  us, we ‘go up to Jerusalem’.  

Ezra 1:3 “Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.”

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