Life Under Lockdown for the Fall Feasts in Israel
Real Life in Israel Blog #3 - Life Under Lockdown - again.... - Sept 2020
The Difference a Year Makes
One year ago today (September 18th 2019), I was under the knife, having my 2nd hip replacement at Sha'are Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem through the skilled hands of my surgeon, Dr. Yadin Levi and some new technology (which they actually made a documentary about - I'm now a film star!).
Interview with Dr. Levi for documentary on new hip replacement technology in Israel
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was limping along slowly, with a cane, in continual pain, feeling 90 years old. And what a miracle that today, one year later, I am completely free to walk, swim, dance - and even ride a jet ski - with joy. Hallelujah!
one year later....
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)
To Blow or not to Blow?? - that is the question….
This Friday evening (Sept 18th 2020), also begins Yom Zikaron Tru’ah (Feast of Trumpets) but even the shofar may be silent tonight. Religious Jews, who follow an ‘oral law’ (mishnah and Talmud) rather than the written Word of God; forbid blowing the shofar on Shabbat.
Yeshua rightly said of them,
“Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.” (Mark 7:13)
This religious spirit which dictates man-made rules that have nothing to do with the Word of God; (and sometimes even contradicts it), is something that disturbs and even angers me.
We are commanded to observe Yom Tru’ah (Feast of Trumpets/shofar) on this night; and yet the call of the shofar is silent across the Land (except for us crazy Messianics that follow the Bible instead of man’s traditions).
The other thing that drives me crazy around this chag (festival) is the whole ‘Rosh Hashana’ deception - practically everyone believing it is a Jewish ‘new year’ and wishing everyone ‘Shanah Tovah Umetukah’ (have a good & sweet year); when in reality, we know that it is really the seventh month and the ‘Rosh Hashana’ new year thing comes out of pagan Babylonian customs, adopted during our period of Babylonian exile.
I believe this is a strategy of the enemy to obscure the real ‘reason for the season’ - which is a remembrance that ‘The King is Coming’ - the day of the Lord is at hand and soon (perhaps very soon), Yeshua the Messiah will return with the shout (tru’ah) and the blast of the shofar. He will not be the meek and sacrificial lamb this time; but the lion of Judah - come roaring out of Jerusalem - to destroy the enemies of Israel and of God.
I need to pray, God give me patience with those who are deceived and don’t know the truth. I am concerned, however, for Messianic believers, who know the Bible; and yet follow these Rabbinic traditions. As disciples of Yeshua, may we walk according to the Biblical path; the narrow path that leads to life; and not follow man-made rabbinic rules and regulations that may even nullify the Torah.
Lockdown on the Holidays - Again....
I also felt, this Friday afternoon, a terrible heaviness, depression and oppression. We went for a final swim in the beautiful outdoor pool here in the Negev. We have been swimming almost every day here as a relief from the scorching afternoon heat; and also for fun and exercise. When the lifeguard gave the announcement at 1:00 P.M. that the pool would be closing for the rest of the year, I came home and began to feel very depressed. And I suspect I was not alone in this feeling.
I believe I was simply sensing the mood of the nation which has been ordered into lockdown for the entire three weeks of the Fall Feasts. The last time Israel experienced a lockdown was last Pesach (Passover) which is also a time to celebrate God's appointed holy time with friends, family and congregations. To forbid this is like the governments of the Western world telling their citizens that this year, they are not allowed to celebrate Christmas with their extended families; but instead, must stay locked up in their homes for Christmas, Boxing day, New Years and beyond..
Unthinkable! My heart is feeling the suffocating despair of the people of Israel; and yet as a child of God, my spirit is becoming calm and quiet - like a weaned child with its mother, so is my soul within me.
“Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Psalm 131:2)
We can either see this as an imposed time of forced imprisonment, joining the majority of people in becoming frustrated and angry; or we can trust God in this. The Bible warns us not to fret and to cease from anger. It does not help and only makes things worse.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalm 37: 7-8)
Those who are conspiring to bring their wicked schemes to pass will one day simply cease to exist. We shall look for them ; but they shall be no more. (Psalm 37:10)
Rather than getting into strife and contention over this whole situation, we need to simply rest in the Lord and wait patiently; for He has promised that even what the enemy means for evil against us will somehow be turned for good. We have to hold onto faith that God is good; and He is in control. These things are the birth pangs of the Messiah.
There is such a blessing of being ‘hidden’ in the Lord. We are able to enter into a time of seclusion with the Lord; listening for His voice, hearing Him speak to us in the wilderness. Sometimes we get so busy with our ‘to do lists’ - places to go and people to see and things to do - that our relationship with the Lord can become strained and distant.
This lockdown may be seen as a kind of ‘Divine punishment’ - like a child being sent to their room to ‘think about what they have done’. Indeed, the time of the Fall Feasts is a time to examine ourselves, repent for our misdeeds and turn back to God.
DWELLING IN REST AND QUIETNESS
I see the lockdown; rather, as a much needed time of rest, solitude and quietness. Of course, there can always be too much of even a good thing; and I thank God that we still have fellowship here, especially with other believers; but God is bringing us back to value the blessings of being ‘hidden in Him.’
For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
In the above passage, it says that the people refused to rest, to ‘be still and know He is God’. They said, “We will not!”
Likewise, we can either rebel against this imposed time of rest and quietness; or we can accept and even embrace it. After all, what truly is the good life? Is it not love, joy, peace (shalom) and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakodesh)?
Perhaps we have gotten out of balance and leaned too much towards chasing after material things in seeking ‘the good life’. Maybe we have made some of these things into ‘idols’; false gods, chasing after them like an unfaithful spouse.
WALLED IN WITH THORNS
There are times when God just needs to lasso us; and ‘hedge us in’ so He can speak to our hearts (as He did to Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer).
I will hedge up your way with thorns,
And wall her in,
So that she cannot find her paths.
She will chase her lovers,
But not overtake them;
Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.” (Hosea 2:6-7)
If we feel ‘walled in’, we can trust that God’s purposes in this are for good and not for evil - to woo us back to Himself.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. (v. 14-15)
We can use this time to recover our hope; to be comforted, to remember the day of our salvation - when God rescued us from the Kingdom of darkness - and to sing again of His goodness and mercy.
When we refuse to slow down and smell the roses, God has ways of ‘making us’ to lie down in green pastures and beside still waters. He is a Good Shepherd who knows what His sheep truly need.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; (Psalm 23:1-3)
REMAIN IN GOSHEN
As the entire world descends into deeper darkness, I believe the Lord is keeping us ‘Hidden in Messiah’. He is coming to judge the earth; and the plagues are and will continue to fall; but for God’s people there is a place of Goshen - a hidden place where we will be safe and protected.
“But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth." (Exodus 8:22)
The only place where it did not hail was in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived. (Exodus 9:26)
The Israelites were warned, during the final plague upon Egypt (death of the firstborn), to stay under the blood of the unblemished lamb on the doorposts and mezuzot of their homes. We too need to stay under the covering of the blood of the Lamb (and not venture out into the ungodly streets of Egypt). For when judgement comes; and the wrath of God falls upon the earth; we want the angel of death to see the sign of the blood and ‘pass - over’ us - that we may be saved.
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)
There may come a day when, like Noah and his household on the ark, we may be instructed to enter into our chambers and stay put, hiding there until the wrath of God has passed by.
“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.” (Isaiah 26:20)
OUR HIDING PLACE
God is our hiding place. He surrounds us with songs of deliverance.
You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:7)
He is hiding us in the cleft of the rock - in the secret place of His presence.
He who dwells in the secret place (seter - hidden place) of the Most High (El Elyon)
Shall abide under the shadow (Tzel) of the Almighty (El Shaddai). (Psalm 91:1-2)
This is our place of protection - under the shelter of His wings.
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge; (Psalm 91:3-4)
We need not fear the pestilence nor the plague that may surround us; for the Lord has us surrounded with His angels. The enemy is using the weapon of fear against the people of the earth; and satan is leading the whole world astray; but we who know the Lord can be strong and of good courage; abiding in the truth - shining as lights in the darkness - a beacon for those who are searching.
HIDDEN IN MESSIAH
As we approach the time of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), I am reminded of the verse that promises,
“For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His ‘SUKKAH’
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
We, who have been immersed in the waters of the mikvah, have died to our old life with all of its sins; and are now hidden in Messiah. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
We are eternally safe and secure; for even if we die we shall live. Yeshua is the resurrection and the life.
PREPARED FOR A PURPOSE
As we wait in this ‘hidden place’ we may keep in mind that all of the great characters of the Bible spent a significant amount of time in the wilderness; being prepared before stepping into their destiny. Esther was hidden as a little Jewish orphan girl before being crowned Queen of Persia and going on to save her people from annihilation.
King David spent time hiding out from King Saul in the caves of Ein Gedi before being crowned King of Israel.
Moses spent 40 years on the backside of the Midian desert tending his father in law’s sheep before delivering the people of Israel from Egypt.
Joseph spent year upon year as a slave in Egypt; and then apparently forgotten in a dungeon for a crime he did not even commit - before being raised - in one day - from the pit to the palace. Joseph finally stepped into His destiny of leadership to save a nation.
When we feel like we are in a pit or a prison; or just living on the backside of nowhere doing nothing of any significance for a very long time; we need to remember these stories and take heart. God is faithful; and He is preparing us for a glorious future.
Being Faithful in the Small Things
Let us have patience in the waiting; and let patience have its perfect work in us. In the meantime, while we are waiting and hoping; we need to be faithful in the small things. There are many small and seemingly insignificant things that I know I have let slide because of being busy and a bad habit of procrastinating. Even things like not backing up my important files have had disastrous consequences; and yet it seems I have not learned my lesson and continue to leave important files without proper back up.
Things can become run down due to neglect when we don’t take time for the little things - fixing this and replacing that. Cleaning and putting things in order is not necessarily fun or exciting - but it is important.
In this lockdown I feel challenged to bring peace and order to every area of my life. Have I given my full tithe? Are my taxes done? The Word says that if we are not faithful with worldly wealth, how can we be trusted with God’s riches? God asks us to be faithful in the little things so He knows He can trust us with more.
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Mathew 25:21)
This is a time, I believe, when the Lord is testing us in our faithfulness - even to the little things of life. May we be found faithful and trustworthy so that we can be trusted with more in the days to come.
Finally, let us be strong and of good courage; trusting God always, being thankful in our hearts and praising Him continually, despite the circumstances. God is in control.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
As we seek the Lord, He will deliver us from all of our fears.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
He will surround us with His angels and deliver us. Halleluyah!
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them. (Psalm 34:1-7)
I am thankful that, during this time of lockdown, I have had more time to write; so I have opportunity to share what is on my heart at this time of seclusion in the Fall Feasts. Thank you for your prayers for our family and ministry here in the Land of Israel.
Love in Yeshua,