Friday morning I had some time and, since I’m leaving soon and don’t know when I’ll have time to do things, I decided to visit the Old City again. I am now pretty familiar with the locations of places in Israel; am somewhat familiar with the city of Jerusalem, itself; and have become very familiar with the Old City. There is no way to describe the sights, smells and sounds of the Old City. I am a people-watcher. Since I was blessed to be alive when Jerusalem was returned to her people, I enjoy seeing how they live now that they are “back”.
The bus dropped me off and I walked toward the Old City. The Old City is really old (in the background of this picture you can see the Mount of Olives). Part of the elevation of the city has to do with the many civilizations that have built the city layer upon layer, leaving their personal signatures as they built. Even if Jesus is no more than a historical figure to you, being in the city in which He spent so much time, and watching the Jewish people go about their routine lives as they have for thousands of years, is a special treat. At least for me.
Since Friday night begins the week-long “Feast of Tabernacles”, every restaurant has to construct a booth outside on the sidewalk so that its religious customers will be able to obey the law and eat in a booth. The Bible actually says that Jews are supposed to LIVE in their booths, but most of them only eat in them. Here is a picture of the booth belonging to the family living in the apartment below us.
Anyway, in the Old City I came across a lady who had been on my first tour in 2001. Then I ran into a family from Texas who has sold their home and moved to Jordan.
Every time I visit Israel I run into Christians who believe they have received a special “word” from the Lord to come here and do something for the Jews. Some are individuals and some are entire families.
The family I met expects that 300 other familiies will join them in creating an agricultural community, on both sides of the Jordan River (read: on both sides of the border), which will eventually be in place to take care of the Jews when they flee Jerusalem during the end times. The wife explained that their particular “word” comes from Revelation, chapter 12. A lot of Christians here point to the book of Revelation as the source of their decision to be here at this time.
Some Christians here also consider themselves “Messianic Jews” even though they have never been Jewish. Their logic is that their love for the Jewish people, and for the land of Israel, must be due to the fact that they have Judaism somewhere in their ancestry. I don’t want to judge anyone’s motives, or that God has or hasn’t spoken to some of them; however, I do think a lot of Christians are bored with institutional Christianity and they find in Judaism more than the “Root” spoken of by the apostle, Paul. Judaism just seems a lot more “fun”. The food and wine here are wonderful and Jews do know how to have a good time. And, I have to admit that institutional Christianity can be pretty dull.
I also believe that God is moving the hearts of many Christians to show favor to Israel and the Jewish people. I think it’s also possible that Christians may eventually be the only ones who aren’t actually against these people. Having said this, I don’t think that when Paul was writing to the Jewish Christians in Rome he had in mind that gentile Christians should become Jewish Christians. Paul writes that Jews have been given many advantages over other peoples. He even names these advantages. (And says we had better not be arrogant toward them, but be willing to learn from them). However, to be given advantages is not the same thing as saying that, in God’s eyes, it is advantageous to BE Jewish. Americans have many advantages, but God doesn’t consider an American better than other nationalities. Wow. Enough preaching!
So I wandered around the Old City and spent some time in our favorite store in Israel, Shorashim, talking to the twins who own the place. Then (and this is for you, Paula Melton, if you are reading this), I ate at our favorite little sidewalk cafe where you and I used to always eat lunches of pita and humus. That’s where I ran into Carol Berry.
Tonight I stayed at the apartment while my hosts went to the opening celebration of the Christian Embassy in the wilderness of Ein Gedi. I wanted to show you a picture of the full moon as it rose over the Jordan Valley, but that didn’t come out.
Yesterday I was walking through the Central Bus Station and saw something that is SO Israel, I just had to show you. She saw me taking the picture, but didn’t seem to mind.
Answer to last Jewish question: A very tiny percentage of Orthodox Jews are trained to write Torah scrolls on parchment with a special kind of ink. They use the quill of one kind of bird and the quill has to be sharpened to just the right thickness. The invention that helped them sharpen their quill was the razor blade. This product was eventually used by people all over the world to shave the beard, something an Orthodox Jewish man is not allowed to do.
New question: If black is the worst color to wear in the desert sun, why do the desert Bedouin require their women to be completely covered in black?
Everyone have a great week. Blessings on all of you who have emailed (or sent comments through this blog) and kept me updated on yourselves and/or families.