Another beautiful day in Israel with warm temperatures and blue sky and it’s time to leave. We stuffed our luggage and duffles into the little car one last time. I turned on WAZE to direct us from our apartment to Ben Gurion International Airport.
Several people said we should be there three hours before our flight. We left our apartment with four. We followed WAZE through small streets with construction and congested traffic instead of main roads, but we eventually were on Route 1 heading toward the airport seeing the same signs to Jerusalem that we had followed only two weeks before.
Our little car needed to be filled with gas before we returned it. The highways into the airport gave no hint of even one gas station. We followed signs to the car rental return and got directions to the nearest gas station. Though it was close, we had to leave the airport compound and go into the main city traffic again. We saw the one gas station, but missed the entrance due to solid traffic. We approached the roundabout and it was like threading a needle through cars and buses. Once around the roundabout, we realized that the only entrance to the gas station was from the other direction. My husband did a quick U-turn in the middle of the road and exited the side ramp directly into the station. It was THAT quick.
We pulled by the pump and a kind man asked what gas we wanted and how much. As my husband was telling him, a uniformed man came to the window and asked to see my husband’s passport. Apparently what we had done was very illegal (yes, we already knew that). He also asked for his driver’s license – the first time he had to use his international one. He said that little maneuver we did was going to cost us 500 NIS or $142.00. I asked, “Are you kidding me? We’re just trying to get gas and return a car?” He smirked and laughed crudely and said, “Go on.” The young man pumping our gas said, “I don’t like that guy. He does this all the time. He doesn’t belong here.” Just another crazy event happening to us. We returned our car without a problem and a shuttle dropped us off at the airport.
This morning before we left the apartment, someone sent me a message telling us to be careful that the U.S. was warning of shoe bombs. I really wasn’t worried because we heard that Israeli security is the best in the world. Today was our day to experience it in action.
We went to the little machine and got our boarding pass. However, unlike the U.S. you don’t just go to the airline counter and hand off your luggage. You stand in a long line (that is probably much worse in tourist season) for one of two huge x-ray machines. You put all checked baggage through these machines.
When we got to the front of the line and it was our turn to insert our luggage into the machine, a friendly young woman took our passports and began asking us questions. First, she asked our names, how to say our daughter’s name, and even how we were related. She put yellow stickers on our bags and we put them in the x-ray machine. After a few minutes, (the machine is that huge) they pop out on the other side and you have two choices. You are either directed to the luggage counter where you check your bag or you are directed to another line to have it hand-checked.
Of course, to make our trip more interesting, my bag was the only one they wanted to hand check. While my daughter and husband went to a bench to wait for me, I stood in another line for about 20 minutes waiting for my suitcase to be hand-checked.
There was a huge square with counters around it with 8 stations where security agents would search items in suitcases. Some people went through the procedure quickly; others had everything removed and searched. A group of black people were being searched one at a time pretty intensely. I actually felt sorry for them as they had planes to catch just as we did. The man who went to the counter in front of me had every item removed from his two bags, tested and scanned. They even opened paper bags with pastries and scanned them.
Eventually my turn came. I was not worried about having anything illegal, but I pack everything in a very organized way. When I returned from Brasil, customs went through my luggage and removed my wet swimming suit from its plastic bag and everything in my suitcase became wet and stinky. I was not wanting a similar situation. I was also not wanting to have to repack everything so it would fit.
A young woman motioned for me to come to her station and had me put my suitcase on the counter and open it. Each suitcase that went through the huge x-ray machine was given a yellow tag with a bar code. She scanned my bar code and the x-rayed contents of my luggage appeared on a computer screen. She put on gloves and went for one corner of my belongings. She pulled up the clothes and voila the culprit stared at me: a container of date paste.
I love dates. I love date paste even more. Thank you Yenny (if you’re reading this) for bringing one to me from Israel and changing my perception of dates forever. She picked up the yogurt-sized container and asked me several questions. Did someone give it to me? No. Did I buy it myself. Yes. Where did I buy it? In a little convenience store in Jerusalem. She put the paste back in the corner, put the clothes back where they came from and told me to close the suitcase. That quick I was done. Date paste.
We finished checking our luggage and received our boarding passes. We went through a little metal detector and then to a passport check point where the security agent looked at our passports and our boarding passes. We were then in another big room with lines for checking passports again. Just as we received an Israeli Visa to enter the country, we received an Exit Permit to leave. From there we went through a final security check for our carry-on luggage. We had to remove our computers and put our backpacks through the scanners. We kept our shoes on!!!
We were almost through security. To get through the final turnstile, we had to scan our pink Exit permits. We were now in the Duty Free area where there were tables, charging stations for phones and laptops, and a bazillion places to spend money before boarding a flight. When we arrived at the airport terminal we had three hours until take off. By the time we were through all security and into Duty Free where the concourses were, we had 45 minutes until boarding time. Everyone was right about the pre-flight arrival time of three hours. One other little tidbit of information regarding luggage. If you and it are not checked in 45 minutes prior to your flight, you don’t fly and neither does your luggage.
We had a few shekels left that we needed to spend. We decided to buy a gift box of Israeli treats that had baklava and bird’s nest along with several other sweets. Crazy as it was, my husband went back two times – once for his passport and another time for his boarding pass. We wondered why we needed all of this identification when no one was getting to this place via security checkpoints without proper identification. The very polite young lady said it was to insure that the employees weren’t buying items for themselves. Okay.
We’re now on our plane and flying to Toronto. Flying against the jet stream, it will take 12 hours. We will arrive ‘our body time’ at 1:30 a.m. but it will be 6:30 p.m. and we will live this day twice – a double portion day!
We just ate our kosher meal of pasta and chicken, salad and a delicious dessert. As the sun won’t set while we’re traveling with it, movies and masks will hopefully make the time pass faster. I’m looking at the flight map in front of me and we are flying over the Mediterranean, over Patmos (where John was imprisoned and had his revelation) followed by Greece, over Venice, over Brussels, over Iceland and Greenland and down to Toronto. Soon, we’ll be back in cold North America heading back to Denver and eventually nowhere, Nebraska. The weather forecast is cold, snow, and wind for Toronto.
Some people kiss the ground when they arrive because they are home. That moment didn’t happen for me, but it is the one place I’ve ever been that I felt the most comfortable being who I am, believing what I believe, and doing what our family does. I covered my head and was not a freak nor did anyone try to discourage me or make me feel legalistic. In fact, most people thought I was Jewish and spoke Hebrew to me. I love wearing skirts and women in skirts were everywhere. It was also really nice to eat where kosher food is normal. We never had to worry about eating pork, shellfish or other things that are not really food.
There is nothing like celebrating the Sabbath along with an entire country that stops and remembers the Creator and creation. No one questioned our desire as gentiles to love Israel, the Jewish Messiah, and the Torah from which he taught. In fact, one of our apartments hosts wanted to make sure we had a place to ‘keep Shabbos’ and invited us to her home on a kibbutz.
We never heard anyone say ‘oh, you’re under the law’ or ‘that was done away with’. On the contrary, those that we talked to, especially non-believers, were made envious because we celebrate ‘their’ holy days. We teach people about ‘their’ Scriptures and their traditions. They could see and hear the hope and salvation they desire. They were willing to discuss and not argue and in that, there is great peace for those who love God’s Torah (Psalm 119:165). Those who were believers blessed us and treated as wild olive branches grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel. Truly, the fellowship was like heaven on earth, dew in the grass, our feet dusted off.
It’s not completed yet and it has not reached The Promised Land status even though we did have milk and honey at the conclusion of our Sabbath dinner. The world in all its glory is alive and well in Israel. There are battles between good and evil, right and wrong, spiritual life and spiritual death. Most of the native people are rude and inconsiderate. Driving is offensive. The fruits of the Spirit are not ripe. As Sarit said, there is a new heaven and new earth being created and each time the neshema God’s breathed spirit in him returns to God, the new heavens and earth comes closer and closer. It is not until the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 is realized and the Torah is written on the hearts of the Jewish people (and all people) that everything will be fulfilled. YHVH’s presence is everywhere breaking down strongholds in the hearts of His people. From every Messianic Jew we spent time with, we heard the same words, ‘the hearts of the people have changed in the past few years, they are coming to know Yeshua.’ They are and will because Paul says in Romans athat ‘all Israel will be saved.’
As the Jewish people from nearby and far away nations come to the Western Wall and face the direction from which Messiah will come, I have a new understanding as to how ‘every eye will see and look on the one they have pierced and mourn.’ Those weeping at the wall will see him FIRST. There is a reason that Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the shalom of Jerusalem, may those who love you prosper.” Pray that the veil would be removed from the eyes of the blind and the wax removed from the ears of the deaf so they would have eyes to see and ears to hear that their Messiah has come. He wants them to recognize Him not at a stone wall, but as the visible flesh image of God, Yeshua, their salvation.
Zechariah 12:0-11“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”
If I have to choose one thought to bring back with me from the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the land of David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Elijah, and Yeshua, it would be that Israel is YHVH Elohim’s land. He created it with every imaginable geographic experience from the desert to oasis, from oceans to mountain peaks with snow, to lakes and luscious agricultural valleys – a land that brings forth bananas, dates, figs, wine, fish, and even chocolate. He has blessed the land and will bless those who bless it; he will curse those who curse it.
YHVH gave His Land to Israel to possess and He is their defender. From the time of Joshua and the Judges to this modern day when IDF soldiers walk along the streets, wait in bus stops for their time of duty, open car trunks at various checkpoints or the sound of military jets are heard in the skies, but not seen, YHWH will always protect His land and His people. Those who come against her in history are gone; those who come against her today need to be prepared for their demise.
YHVH’s presence is in the Land and it’s spiritually strong, so strong that the enemy fights every day to quench the Spirit of the Living God. Every major world religion has set up their ‘high places’ of gold, silver, and bronze that dot the landscape, but His presence is greater than all those idols together. If His people will not break them down and become tolerant as the world tells them to, He will topple them. Though the sound of the shofar is not heard from the Temple today, it will be, and those who choose to quench that sound will either bend their knee at the presence of God or be destroyed.
Yeshua said as he made his way from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, “the rocks will cry out” and they do. Every rock or stone, whether in a wall or a walkway anywhere in Israel cries out the history of God’s Land and people. The rocks on which Yeshua walked during the Second Temple time, caves in which Elijah hid from Ahab, the rock fortress of Masada where David stayed, stones that the fishermen skipped in the Kinneret, arched gates for entryways into Jerusalem, old and new, or walls that remain from the defeated Cannaites, Byzantines and Crussaders loudly speak forth the eternal promises of blessing and cursing God put on His Land.
Luke 19:37-40 “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said toYeshua, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
As I sat on the plane writing this final blog on our trip to Israel, my daughter asked if I had a flashlight. I did, but it was in my luggage in the belly of the plane. My husband had a small indigo light and gave it to her. She handed it to the two men sitting next to her wearing black kippot (they had stowed their black hats in the compartment above), tzizitot (fringes on the corners of their garments) and had beards and peyots (side locks). When I asked her what they needed it for, she responded, “They needed a light to read their Hebrew Bibles.”
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