Ancient Paths – February 7

Shalom Aleichem means ‘peace be upon you.’  The response should be ‘Alecheim Shalom’, ‘upon you peace.’.  This is what Yeshua meant in Luke 10:5-6 when he told his disciples to put peace a upon a house they entered.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Shalom to this house.’  If someone who promotes shalom is there, your shalom will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.”  

I have been praying about why I have not had some poignant experience being in Jerusalem and walking the old streets.  The rocks are ancient, the people are a testimony to God’s faithfulness and the Western Wall is an inspiring remnant of the place were the Glory of Yahweh Elohim dwelt.

The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Shalom.”  Shalom.  The Hebrew word means ‘peace’.  The Hebrew word pictures mean destruction of the leader of chaos.  Shalom.  Yes, there is shalom in this city.  For a country that is surrounded by enemies wanting to destroy it, there is shalom.

Ariela, from whom we’re renting our apartment, said that in spite of bombs, in spite of knowing that there could be war at any moment, the people keep on living.  They have to.  They cannot sit down and wait for life to pass them by because they are worried about the next violent event.  There is shalom.

Psalm 122 speaks about ‘praying for the shalom of Jerusalem.’  I know that our family prays and I know that many others around the world pray for the peace of  Jerusalem.  So, it rests here in a unique way.  I say unique, because Psalm 122 says those that love you shall prosper.  The true shalom that this city needs is the Sar HaShalom or the Prince of Peace, the Messiah of Israel.  He brings a different kind of peace – a peace in the heart.  A peace that truly prospers an individual’s spirit, mind, soul, and even body.   As His peace enters the hearts of Israelis that don’t know Him,  shalom will increase abundantly and this city will prosper.  I honestly can imagine that day and rivers of living water flowing from the center of Jerusalem.   Perhaps what I am sensing is the closeness of that day, the quickly approaching peace of the Prince of Peace.

Zechariah 14:7-9 “It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”

Today we decided to spend in and around the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.  We began by walking through the Jaffa Gate and down David Street.  This is a narrow stone street with many vendors on the sides.  Eventually this street takes you to a small Kotel entrance in the Jewish Quarter.  Before going through security for the Kotel, we wanted to go to the Temple Institute.

The Institute is dedicated to re-building the the Third Temple on Mount Moriah. They are actively involved in research, raising public awareness about the Temple, and the central role that it occupies in the spiritual lives of Jews and the world.  They are most well-known for creating the furniture and objects necessary for Temple operation.  Unfortunately, the Temple Institute didn’t have any English tours on Friday.  We did, however, get to see the Temple Menorah as they had it on display outside.

From there we headed down a long staircase toward the Davidson Center.    While walking down the stairs, we met an Orthodox Jewish man, one wearing all black and a black hat, who wanted to bless us (and of course he wanted alms for the poor as well, which we gave).  He blessed us with the Hebrew blessing I have been trying to learn and get into my head:  The Shehecheyanu:  “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe who has given us life, has sustained us, and brought us to this moment.”

Baruch atah יהוה, Eloheinu melekh ha’olam sheecheyan ve’quiehmanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh.

The Davidson Center is also known as the Jerusalem Archaeological Park.  It is an area still being unearthed at the southern wall of the Temple next to the Dung Gate.  We were able to walk up the steps and stand at the Hulda Gates (now closed)  where 2000 years ago Jewish pilgrims would enter the Temple Courts during the time of Yeshua.  We walked part of the southern wall and on the main street from the Second Temple time.  There were merchant stalls for buying sacrifices, a mikvah bath  and the stone structure from where the shofar would be blown for Shabbat and other Holy Day.

Before entering the Temple with a sacrifice, a man would have mikveh bath or a time of cleansing.  He would enter the bath down one set of stairs, wash to make himself clean, and return up the other side of the stairs.  Baptism is a mikveh and represents the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah in our lives.  Mikvot (plurah mikvah) however, were done often and for many different reasons.   For example, a woman after her monthly cycle would have so a mikveh.  

The shofar stone structure had been pushed off the Temple wall by the Romans in A.D. 70.  It was a huge stone with a type of bench for standing.  The Hebrew inscription remains on the rock which is how they knew what it was.

From the archaeological park’s Southern Wall of the Temple, we returned to the Western Wall to pray for those who sent us requests.  The activity at the Wall was different than the day before.  There were more security people – IDF soldiers preparing for Erev Shabbat – Evening Shabbat.

Each time I prayed at the Wall, I spoke these words in Hebrew: “Baruch ha’ba b’shem Adonai, Yeshua Hamashiach” from Matthew.  It is my desire that Messiah return and gather His people together, unify them in one in faith in Him.  He will only return with those in Jerusalem welcome Him back.

Matthew 23:37, 39 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” 

The rest of the day we wandered around the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.  Since we didn’t have a good map, we literally wandered around.  We walked up and down narrow stone streets and saw little children from the Tamid Torah – or Torah School.  When we finally made it to the Huldah Synagogue, we were starved.  We found the closest place that made schwarma and ate lunch in the Huldah Square.  It was a beautiful sunny day and while we ate, a street musician played “Jerusalem of Gold”.  We all commented that the moment could not be more perfect.

We wandered around a few more streets and walked the Cardo.  This is the most ancient street the Old City from Roman/Byzantine times and called the “Walk of Pillars.”  It, like the street by the Southern/Western Wall, is well below ground as millennia of civilizations have been built one on top of the other.  Today there are still Roman ruins and the area is an exclusive shopping area.

We also saw something called “Broad Wall” that is remnants of the very first city wall when King David would have lived there.  It had smaller city limits than Jerusalem today.

Before shops close at 2 p.m. to prepare for the Sabbath, we were able to buy a few little gifts for friends and then wandered our way out of the Jewish Quarter up David’s Street and back out the Jaffa Gate. We returned to our apartment to rest and prepare for our Shabbat.  We had been given Sabbath candles in the Jewish Quarter so we went to a local store to buy our challah bread and wine and wait for pre-sunset to return to the Old City once again.

Psalm 122:1-3 “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.  That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord – to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.”

We went through the Jaffa Gate and back down David’s Street until we arrived at the checkpoint to enter the ‘courtyard’ of the Western Wall.  Shabbat celebrations were already beginning.   John put on his kippah (the small head covering for Jewish men) and walked to the men’s side which was a lot fuller than before.  My daughter and I went to the women’s side where we picked up a Sidur – Jewish Prayer Book.  It was in English and Hebrew.  Because I had taken requests to pray for people, I went up to the wall and prayed.  So many women weep at the wall.  Tears run down their faces as they read from their prayer books.

I say the Shema* and the welcome words for Yeshua to return for His people – to not forget them –  and pray for my friends; some who I don’t know very well at all.  May YHVH Elohim answer all of the prayers not because of the Wall, but because of His faithfulness to His people.  Truly, the hundreds and hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children at the Western Wall on the Shabbat are evidence of His faithfulness to His people.

Jeremiah 31:34-36  “This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name:  “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.”

Obviously there were not just Jewish people at the Wall as we’re not Jewish.  However,  very few from the nations go to the wall.  VERY FEW.  Most just stand behind the barrier and and watch the events happening.   They honestly do not understand, if they are believers, they are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel. Going ‘boldly before the throne of grace’ means they can walk to the Wall, too.  My husband said he feels very sad for the people who come all the way to the Western Wall, but stay behind the barrier.  It reminds him of the ‘wall of partition’ that has been put back up separating the Jew from the gentile, the very ‘dividing wall’ that Yeshua brought down.  We, as the nations, need to go forth reverently and weep for the people of Israel, the Jewish people who do not know Yeshua, but definitely know the Shabbat of our God.

After praying at the Wall, my daughter and I sat on a bench near the back.  On our right, we watched gentile women stand on chairs to look over the men/women barrier.  Signs everywhere request ‘modest dress’ and ‘proper head coverings’.  Few, if any respect the signs.  For many of these women, it was ‘entertainment’ and reminded me of when I lived in the Amish country and people gawked at how the people were dressed or rode in buggies.  On our left, four or five young Jewish women sat praying, eyes closed with their prayer books.

Listening to the men singing and knowing they were dancing, it was hard for me to sit still.  Those of you who know me, know I dance.  I love to dance and to dance at the Western Wall on Shabbat – priceless.  So, I approached the young women and asked them if they danced.  They all looked at me like I was crazy.  Several shook their heads and one girl said, “No, only the men dance!”  I then asked them if only the men were allowed to have joy.  They stared at me not knowing what to say.  I went on: “It is the Shabbat, why can’t women at least do the hora?”  They didn’t know the answer so I told them I loved to dance.  One girl then said that SOMETIMES there’s dancing, but not often.  I then asked if only the men were allowed to express their joy to the Lord because I have a lot of joy.  By this time, they were listening, but not sure about me.  Again, those of you who know me, understand.  I continued.  “I have joy because I know Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel.  It’s Shabbat and I want to dance for joy to Him.”  No, I did not get prayer books thrown at me.  One girl told me that was nice,  but no one dances and she would like to sometime. They all sullenly agreed and then one by one left the bench.  Well, I thought, at least I spoke the name Yeshua!

I received a text message. Without going into a lot of details, it was my friend who leads the Inner Court Dancers.  She was watching the web cam of the Wall and looking for me and my daughter.  Eventually she saw us and sent a blessing to us.

For a short time, my daughter and I watched my husband on the men’s side.  He stood outside a circle of Orthodox Jewish men who were dancing and he was clapping his hands and trying to sing the Hebrew songs.  Eventually, he moved to another circle of men – IDF soldiers and began dancing with them.  What a Sabbath celebration for my husband!

My daughter and I returned to the women’s side as I began to hear lots of singing coming from there.  We walked down the ramp to see 25 girls in a circle DANCING!  I couldn’t believe it.  I even recognized two of the girls I had been talking to earlier.  They were all in an Orthodox Jewish School and were learning Hebrew.  I ran up to the circle and so wanted to join in, but wasn’t sure.  Another woman, who only spoke Spanish, looked at me and I at her, and we nodded.  We broke the chain of hands and joined the circle of dancing.  Of course, how could I NOT?!  Then I started reading the prayer book of the girl dancing next to me and they were singing the Psalms.  Sometimes they were just singing ‘na na na na na’, so it was easy to join in singing and dancing by the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel.    A moment in my life I will never, ever forget because I am a foreigner, keeping the Sabbath, holding fast to the covenant and brought to the holy mountain.  Not only was I dancing with joy for Yeshua, but all those young woman who desired to dance were also dancing at the western wall of His house of prayer for all nations!  Bo Mashiach – Come Messiah.  For as these people stand at the Western Wall, someday soon, Yeshua will return to enter through the closed Eastern Gate and they WILL SEE HIM!

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom!

Isaiah 56:6-7 “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer … for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

We returned to our little apartment on Mendele Mocher Sforim full of joy. Our two Sabbath candles, challah bread and wine waited for us.  We said the traditional blessings, ate some apples and leftover schwarma, and entered into an erev Shabbat that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

*Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad, Baruch shem k’vod malchutot l’olam v’ed.

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One
Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingship forever.

If you’re ever interested in seeing the Western Wall live, here’s the link:  http://www.aish.com/w/46127727.html

 

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