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He had Set Eternity In Their Hearts

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Sukkot party with our local group of Holocaust survivors was touching. We served lunch, sang a few songs, and than took them one floor down, to Bezel-El studio, where they used recycled materials and dried flowers to create a picture, while listening to a short explanation about perishable matters versus eternity.

Think about the Israelites in the desert, taking apart their personal booths each time the cloud moved, and watching the Levites as they took apart the Tabernacle. And when the cloud rested, they would set it all up again. Their perishable booths (we are so used to see tents in most pictures that portray Moses’ Tabernacle, but a more accurate depiction is actually of booths, not tents) set up again, and a glorious cloud resting on the Tent of Meeting. What an opportunity to think about things that decay and require ongoing maintenance, versus eternity and God’s glory.

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Back to our precious group. When everyone arrived downstairs, a beautiful working area was prepared for them, with colorful materials. Eagerly they each found a spot, and started working.

With great worship music in the background and just the right environment, we read some verses to them.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalms 91:1-2).

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

At this point we explained that God is eternal, and that He had put something of that image inside us. Upon hearing that, one of the men stopped working and looked up. You could tell it touched a deep and tender spot in his heart.

“But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, the Messiah Yeshua, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

This powerful truth from 2 Timothy 1:10 was paraphrased to them gently, and than they were asked if anyone is interested in that eternity and immortality.

One lady and her caregiver responded immediately. And when that verse was explained again, most of them, if not all of them, joined the “Amen” with a loud voice.

It was touching to see them use the dried flowers, choose their materials – being engrossed in their work.

Later, around coffee and some delicious deserts, we set up their works for display.

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Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with their art, before they all hugged and kissed goodbye.

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Did they fully understand what we shared? Maybe. Maybe not. We are so thankful for every seed of Truth sown into them, and for every “Amen” their shuttered hearts echoed, and also for any glimpse they get into the riches that eternity in His bosom has to offer them!

A Rainbow, a Bridge and a Genocide

Armenia! The gorgeous mountains. The sweetness and earth-like taste of its fruit and vegetables. Armenia does not have many natural resources, but it can pride in its soil and water. Clean and rich, which is why its harvest is soooo tasty.

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Most fruit are dried in a natural process,
with no preservatives or chemicals. They are huge and so sweeeet

I have a feeling it affects the people who grow up on that same soil. They are sweet and well connected to the soil, the ground. The Armenians I met have a noticeable depth and their hunger for God is tangible. A few months ago God graciously breathed new hope into them, as a result of what they call “The Velvet Revolution.” I will let Wikipedia fill you in on the interesting details [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Armenian_Velvet_Revolution; or http://euromaidanpress.com/2018/05/10/armenias-velvet-revolution-told-by-armenians/]. Bottom line: the entire nation marched to the streets for a whole month, and brought a radical change with zero casualties! That in itself tells a lot about their make up as a nation.

I was invited there to hold a Tabernacle Seminar for 70 leaders of “Young Life clubs,” who minister to teenagers throughout the former Soviet Union. These young adults are so sincere and tender. I was impressed with the way they embrace truth wholeheartedly. I loved giving them what God had given me, and seeing many of them apply it right there and than.

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My general impression was that their knowledge of God’s plan for Israel and the nations is in its diapers. But quite a few of them mentioned that now, having met a Hebrew lady who believes in Yeshua, they want to hear and learn more about us. They keep corresponding with me, asking to learn about our traditions and culture.

The Armenian Genocide

While praying in one of the churches in Armenia, I saw in my spirit’s eyes a huge rainbow stretching from Mt. Ararat (Armenia) all the way to Israel. On its green arc a ram was walking from Armenia towards Israel. A figure (not sure if it was one person or a few) was following it. On the blue arc I saw a few figures leaping joyfully from Israel towards Armenia.

Ararat in the winter, as seen from
the balcony of Abovyan City Church, pastored by Vazgen Zohrabyan

It looked like a bridge that needs to be built between these two nations. Armenia has gone through a cruel genocide (1915-1918), initiated by the Ottoman Turks. Three years ago they needed Israel to vote for recognition of that genocide, but sadly, we did not stand with them for various reasons. This opened a wound that requires repentance and forgiveness. It felt to me like the Armenians are ready to extend it. They hurt, but somehow it did not evolve into bitterness. They are stretching out open arms, so I pray that our politicians will wisely choose Armenia as an ally, and even establish diplomatic relations with them. I pray too that God will reveal to the Armenian church His heart for Israel, and His end time plan for them as well. They need it! We need it!

Israeli Arabs

This weekend I met in Nazareth with a group of Arab young adults. Once worship started, it took them just seconds to deeply engage and enjoy God. I was moved!

I came there to teach about the Biblical feasts. I chose to do that through the angle of God’s hidden Faces. It is important to understand that God had set in His calendar many opportunities for us to meet Him. As if He pulled out His calendar, and marked regular dates for us to deepen our intimacy with Him, go on a date and enjoy each other – once a week, once a month, and at least seven more times during a regular year. They are even called “meetings, dates.” The Hebrew word translated into “Feasts” is “Moed,” meaning – a meeting. But through the years we distorted the calendar, forgot the original purpose of each one and turned it mostly into a gastronomic celebration.

Those Arab young adults are surrounded by Jewish culture, but they don’t necessarily understand it. Rania, their leader, meets with them weekly and teaches them about the importance of blessing Israel and praying for her. For some of them, hearing about the Hidden Angel of God’s Faces helped them understand a huge enigma.

One guy commented that he never realized how much he misses by not reading the Bible in Hebrew (a language he knows). “I would really like to start doing it,” he said. I also saw in some of them a sense of relief, realizing the Jewish nation is still under a punishment, which might explain some of our ignorance and hostility towards them. Others loved hearing that they have such a crucial part in the story. That we need them! That God needs them!

After meeting them, and with the deep feelings stirred within me in Armenia, I can clearly say: The Middle Eastern Ruth is waking up. And she is being prepared to take her part in the story, her redeemed and righteous place.

How Can you Pray?

  • Armenia was the first nation to become Christian (301 BC). They have a rich heritage, and it is so obvious that there is a purpose hovering above them. Pray for that rainbow-bridge to be built between past and future, connecting two nations that seem to have a lot in common. Pray that the bridge will be built spiritually, between the Body here and there, but also on other levels: diplomatically, politically, etc. I pray that Israel will go as far as opening a consulate, even an embassy, in Yereven, their capital.
  • Pray for more teachers from Israel to travel to Armenia, and teach them about their place in God’s plan.
  • And pray for Armenia to become a “Sheep Nation” (Matt. 25:31-46).
  • For the young generation among Israeli Arabs. They are hungry for solid teaching, that is based on the Biblical narrative and not on various distortions. Let us pray that God will raise up from among them teachers who can study their Bible in Hebrew, and bring it to their own people.

Our Thorns, His Glory

I sometimes take it for granted – the fact that God wants to dwell in me. But when I stop to think about it, I am in awe. How can that be?

Even more moving is the fact that He wants to build a glorious structure inside us, if we only invite Him. Sukkot – the Feast of Booths (wrongly called “the Feast of Tabernacles”) serves as a great reminder. Though we are temporary in this world, wondering in the desert of life etc., He always provides a covering. And in the midst of our funny, childish, at times pathetic attempts to build something beautiful that can last about a week (or until rain showers on us), He shows up in His glory.

I had to post these! Some extremely decorative decoration of Sukkahs (booths)

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“Tabernacling”, Not “Dwelling”, “Live Among You” or “Abide”

I love finding parallels between Moses’ Tabernacle and the way God dwells in us. In Hebrew, “to dwell” means “to tabernacle” (Ps. 84:1; Zec. 2:10-11 and many more references). The root is one and the same.

What did the Israelites build the Tabernacle from? They used the only building material that were available around – acacia wood. Acacia wood is not like the cedar trees that were used later to build the temple (1 Kings 5:10). Cedar trees are a carpenter’s dream material. They are tall, straight, easy to work with. But they have to be imported. Acacia, on the other hand, is every carpenter’s nightmare. It is thin, twisted and thorny. But that was what the desert had to offer.

How very typical of God: to take the thorns and the twisted, crumpled areas of our lives, and use them to build a vessel that contains His glory. We usually are ashamed of these thorny parts. We would rather everyone saw our cedar trees. But God is determined to use the thorns and thistles. For where we are weak, that is exactly where His strength is revealed.

How can one turn thorns and thistles into a vessel full of glory? It’s a fascinating and marvelous process, that requires a yearning desire to see His glory conquer every defiled part or area of our lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our next Tabernacle Seminar, that will take place on January 2019. Read here Tabernacle Seminar – Brochure for more info.

Tomorrow

As the nations come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, quite a few conferences are being held around the country. One of them is by the founder of the Christian Embassy – Jan Willem Van Der Hoeven. They invited me to build the pieces of the Tabernacle and teach their guests about the inward process that needs to take place in each one of us. I will be doing it tomorrow evening, at Mt. Zion hotel. This is a very short notice, I know, but if you happen to be in the land and you have a free evening, you are most welcome to join us. Email me for more info.

One more thing I want to recruit prayer for is a Sukkot party we are giving our holocaust survivors. Also tomorrow, around noon. We’ll serve a delicious lunch in our congregation, and than take them two floors down, where they will go through some form of creative therapy, connecting to this season of High Holidays. You can read more about this ministry at http://kehilat-hamaayan.org.il/the-woodhouse-1-1-1-1-1-1-1/

Will you please pray for these precious souls? First of all, that they will arrive tomorrow. Almost half of them are not sure they can make it. Remember also K’, the lady who owns this studio, for wisdom and anointing, and the ability to touch a deep place in their hearts through this creative experience.

Thank you also for lifting me up. I owe you an update about Armenia and a couple of more posts to finish the “Back to BehLehem” series. Working on it!

I am also seeking God for His will concerning the upcoming year. There are so many things I can do, I can have my hands full. The question is what does He want me to focus on this time.

Hag Sameach…

There Ends a Year

A Short Break  

Three blessings are prayed in synagogues during Rosh HaShana. One of them says: “There ends a year and its maledictions and a new one begins with its blessings.” 

With the approaching holidays and some intense ministry time coming up, I am taking a short break of the Back to “Beit Lehem” series. There are about three more posts I will most likely write before I finish sharing with you that special journey. But until I find the time to do so, I would love to have your prayer support for the upcoming programs.

A Prayer Conference With Arab Women

Tomorrow (September 5) I will join the team of an Arab ministry up north, for a 4 days’ conference. The goal: prayer and healing of brokenness for the women who will attend. Throughout the years, Arab women attended some of Ot OoMofet’s seminars and programs, but this will be my first time to join hands and hearts with the way they do ministry, and learn from them. I look forward to learn more about their spiritual culture, to feel their hearts and spirits, and mostly – to hear God through them and on their behalf.

Teaching The Tabernacle in Armenia

I will be back home for less than a day to unpack and re-pack, and get on a flight to Armenia. “Young Life” is an international ministry, that reaches out to uncommitted, disinterested teenagers and young adults around the world, ​and expose them to the Good News.

They are offering a retreat-training week to their teams across the former Soviet Union, and asked me to teach the Tabernacle. For nearly four days (September 12-16), we will together identify God’s knocks on various doors of their lives, and acquire great tools that can turn any struggle into success, especially in ministry.

I will be back home just in time to prepare for the fast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Our local congregation already started fasting, and I will join them with a full fast when I come back, as we pray for our city, nation and region.

The week after I will load the pieces of Tabernacle, and set them up on a stage in Jerusalem. Many Gentiles arrive each year from all over the world, in order to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in various conferences. I was asked to teach a session during one of these conferences.

Sometime around the Feast of Tabernacles I also plan to have a party for our Holocaust Survivors, in hope to continue sharing the love of Yeshua with these precious, precious hearts.

Summing Up a Year 

The Jewish calendar ends on this coming Sunday and a new year begins. For the sake of convenience I run our ministry year in accordance with it, even though this is not the Biblical calendar. So as of next week, one year of ministry will end, and the next one will begin while I will be in mid air, on my way to Armenia.

This past year (5778 on the Jewish calendar) was a surprising one, mostly because of the journey to Jordan and the shift it brought in my understanding of God’s Kingdom and my heart. I wait eagerly to see how that will develop.

However, all of these would not take place without those among you who have been supporting Ot OoMofet one way or another. Knowing that there are people who pray for me in accordance with God’s will is such a back bone. I can dedicate the time needed for all these projects because some of you have opened not only your hearts, but your pockets as well. I see it as a partnership. I cannot do what you do, and you cannot do what I do. But we cannot do what we are able to do without one another. Bottom line of these confusing last few sentences is: you have an important part in all these stories that I share with you, and in so many others that I cannot share here for obvious reasons.

I bless you, my brothers and sisters who have a heart for Israel, and who love to see her being restored out of her widowhood and into a mother-nation, and eventually into His Bride. O, I cannot wait for that day.

I bless you with an enlargement of your tents and spheres of influence, and with the ability to hear God’s voice stronger and clearer than any other voice. But not only that, I bless you with a passion to always say “yes” to Him.

Plans For The Coming Year? 

Still in the oven. It looks like it will include moving out of the place where I live now to… well, I still don’t know where. My (only) son left Israel last week for a few years in the Netherlands, to further his academic education in Economics and Philosophy. Not having him around impacts my routine significantly, but also makes it easier to narrow down my space and to travel again. I am so ready for that.

Lior, my 29 years old son, now a student in Roterdam, Holland

We are planning another Tabernacle Seminar for English speakers (end of January – beginning of February). I will send more details later, to those who are interested to register.

How Can You Pray?

  • I always welcome a fresh touch of God’s Hand upon my heart. I would love this year to start with one of these caressings.
  • I could use some clarity of mind concerning moving, and mostly: where to? With the kind of ministry I do, I can live anywhere in Israel. So on one hand, all options are open. I obviously want to follow the cloud where it leads.
  • The salvation of our Holocaust Survivors, and of the entire nation of Israel. Lord, bless them and protect them, make your Faces shine upon them with favor and be gracious to them. Lift up your Faces upon them (so they can see, Yeshua, who you really are) and give them peace (Num. 6:24-26).
  • A tender heart towards God and towards those I minister to, as I go through the various programs. It is so easy to submerge in ministry and in the familiar. Even though God is the main focus, I must confess that I do not always rely on Him. I would cherish prayers on that point: that I will fully let Him lead me and wait on Him when needed, and not follow my own understanding.

 

Where Were You That Morning, Sarah? (8)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 8    |    May 20, 2018, morning)

How can I express the depth and density of what God had taken us into that morning? We decided to extend our stay in Jordan for one more day, as we all felt the purpose of our coming had not yet been completed.

Chinese Song and Travail 

It started early that morning, with a deep and painful travail that Tian Jie was going through. The day before she heard for the first time of the pain the Arab people carry concerning the re-establishment of Israel. In the middle of the night God started showing her both sides and she started weeping. Her agony was so deep, that at a certain point she locked herself in the bathroom in order to not wake up her room mates. Around that same time, Rania dreamed about Tian Jie, who could not connect with her own son. There was some conflict between them, and Tian Jie could not find the way into his heart.

As our day progressed, these two events became our backdrop in prayer. I write this post with the outcome in mind, rather than describing what was spoken and prayed – line by line or in chronological order.

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Tian Jie, enjoying the wheat fields a few days earlier
(as not many pictures were taken on that intense morning)

During breakfast, while allowing the expansive valleys and curved hills outside the porch to enlarge our hearts, Tian Jie all of a sudden hushed us. She ran to one corner and tried to listen carefully.

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The gorgeous curves and hills of Gilead

“It’s a Chinese song,” she whispered and pointed to a spot in the horizon, “a very famous one.” Yes, there was obviously something in Chinese down there in the valley. We were lodging in a country side, with no building around us for miles. Where did the song come from? Who speaks Chinese in rural Jordan?

The song is about two lovers who conceived out of wedlock. The lad’s mother, a wealthy lady, did not want that simple girl to partake in the family’s rich inheritance. So she kidnapped the baby and made her son marry someone else. The biological mother looked for her baby for years. Eventually her longing turned into insanity. When the baby boy grew up, he studied medicine. One day, in one of the hospitals he worked at, he recognized his biological mom. She did not. He tried to break into her delusion but did not succeed – until he started singing a song they had sung together when he was about 4 years old: “a Mama is the best thing in the world, a child who has his mom is so treasured, sheltered in his mother’s arms, what an abundance of joy.”

It worked. The mother gradually snapped out of the land of illusion, where she had lived for decades, into reality. The voice of her own son, crying for her bosom, had brought about her healing.

Which Child Is Looking For His Mama?

Surprisingly, the song matched Rania’s dream. It was easy to see the strands of a tapestry that were being woven before our eyes. In light of the identity shift that had taken place the night before at the Jabok river, we knew that God was talking about a lost child, who was crying for his mama, and about a mother who had lost her right mind. A mother who was bereaved and grief-stricken for decades, and who will be healed when she hears the voice of her lost child and realizes how much he needed her.

We left the breakfast table, huddled into one of the cabins and started praying. Gradually God’s thoughts unfolded before us, until we hit a major root – maybe even the root – that the wound consists of.

Putting all these insights together, we realized that the spiritual and mental aspect of the Jordan rift-wound was birthed through rejection and partiality. Ishmael was rejected by Sarah, by Abraham and even by God (Gen. 21:12; Mal. 1:2-3). Good heavens, how devastating must that be! Add to that the rejection of Esau’s right as the first born, Rebekah’s preferring of Jacob and Isaac favoring Esau.

Back To The Chinese Boy

The story of the Chinese child opened a well within me. It connected in my spirit with Ishmael’s abandonment to to the merciless desert (Gen. 21:14-16). Tears started flooding, as for the first time I thought of young Ishmael, rejected by the adults he must have looked up to. It pierced my heart.

Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother - Gustave Doré - Wikimedia Commons

“The expulsion of Ishmael and his mother” by Gustave Dore

Yes, I know that Ishmael had become a threat to the promise, and was probably bullying Isaac (Gen. 21:9-10), but at that moment I was just a mama. “Why send him to the desert alone?” I agonized. “Why didn’t Sarah and Abraham send a servant with them, some camels, a donkey, and more food? Why did they send them to their death?”

“There Was No Room For Us At The Table”

Priscilla grew up in a Jordanian family, and from a young age was taught to love and bless Israel. Connecting that morning with the pain that the Arabs carry towards the Jewish nation was not easy for her, but it hit her powerfully, as she realized how much anger and enmity the Arab nations carry in their core identity.

“There is no place for us in the house,” Priscilla echoed the mindset of her own people. She shared with raw and deep pain how they never felt wanted: “Only now, that you need us, you remember to invite us?”

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In that moment, it was as if the magnet of God’s heart had drawn us together with a force field we could no longer resist. We embraced, and clung to each other for dear life. We all continued to pray – but more than talking to God through that prayer, we were searching for the source of water that could quench an ancient thirst.

A Mangled Trunk

I saw Israel as a tree trunk that had cut out some of its branches, unaware that it was wounding itself. “As a mother,” I prayed, “I want to open the scar so that each branch can find its place again. It should not be a mangled tree, but a nurtured and nourished one.”

“For so long we have not been allowed there,” Priscilla wept. “Now you are asking us to come in. Earlier, there was enmity. I could feel it so strong. But now… there is a mother tone in you. One that has been fine tuned by the Lord. The sound of your heart cry went deep into a place in my spirit and soul that has never been comforted before. But today it has been. You are a mom, Orna.”

“I’m so sorry that it was not offered earlier, Priscilla,” I responded, and tried to explain: “Our bosom was a place of jealousy, enmity, insanity. It was either you or us. Father, create a bosom of safety and unity. Welcome, Jordan. Welcome, children of Ishmael and Esau, welcome to the table. Not as wood choppers or water cleaners, but as lost children.”

It was a sobering moment to realize that the descendants of Ishmael and Esau, even of Lot, wanted to be welcomed and desired. Not because we needed them, but because we missed them! Not just for the sake of our own sanity, but because they have a part in the Kingdom.

“Forgive us, Father, for all the children we had sent to the desert,” I begged. “We did not give Hagar enough water and bread, and she had to watch her son die. Forgive us for not wanting to bless them, Lord, and for driving them into madness.”

Israel needs the milk and the balsam of the nations in order to be restored. The nations need the sap, the vitamins and minerals that are restored in the soil of this specific land. These essentials can only get to the nations through the trunk. And the trunk cannot produce it on its own or outside the Land of promise. Only here it can absorb and drink all the needed ingredients, and then feed the nations who attach themselves to it. When a nation opposes the connection of the Jews to their Land, it cuts itself off from the very life it needs. Without the land we are a rootless trunk, an insane creature. In the land our sanity is restored, our roots go deep and the branches who choose to join us are well fed.

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“Israel, open your arms”

“I open what is blocked, wounded and hollow,” I declared, “in that ancient, dry wrinkled up tree. Open up your bosom! Open your arms and reach out to those who you have perceived as your enemies. Old tree, look up and set your face to the Son. Drink from the soil of promise, and get all the light, water and minerals you need. Arabs, Jordanians, the Far East and the Far West – come and together let’s create something glorious. Otherwise we are but a pathetic trunk and you are rootless branches.”

I Have So Many Questions to Sarah

“Where were you that morning, Sarah, when Abraham sent away your maid with her son? Did you stay in bed? Did you cover with the blanket your head? Did you go to the kitchen and made fresh bread?

“What did you see in Abraham’s eyes when you looked at him for the first time, after he sent Hagar and Ishmael away? Did you talk about it at all? Did he ever listen to you again? Did he ever forgive you? Did he have any hearing left?

“What changed in you? Did your heart stay exactly the same, or did something turn rigid? After all, you wanted Ishmael as a son for yourself (Gen. 16:2). Until Isaac was born, you raised Ishmael up to inherit from you. Can a woman send her son to die in the desert and totally forget him? You were the one who pushed Hagar into Abraham’s bosom. And you were most likely there when she gave birth.

“Bring me into your heart, Sarah”, I keep asking as I run all kinds of imaginary conversations with her. “Help me understand you, forgive you, forgive through you.”

“If not for Ishmael’s sake, then what about Isaac?” I beg the Sarah that lives inside my heart. “I have a strong feeling that your precious baby adored his older brother,” I try to reason with her. “What did you tell Isaac when he woke up in the morning and found that his playmate was gone for good? Or maybe he was wide awake when the dramatic abandonment took place? Did he hear the screaming and heart-breaking cries of Ishmael? Did that scar your baby Sarah, the next time Isaac tried to find comfort in your bosom and saw a new harshness in your loving eyes?”

What About Abraham?

When I think about that awful day, I cannot find an echo to the patriarch’s soul and heart. I guess I’m not supposed to. I should probably leave that for men with the heart of an Abraham. As this mother’s heart towards the nations is being birthed in me, I am connecting not only with my personal identity as a daughter and a mom; I am trying to connect with older voices – those of bareness (Gen. 16:2), laughter and surprise (18:12) and fear. Of a mind-blowing promise and the responsibility to see it fulfilled.

I’m wondering what will happen to Sarah – to the Jewish nation, when we start listening to the voice of Ishmael, calling us back. Longing for a wholehearted embrace.

What will happen to Ishmael when he realizes he has a place around the table? That Mama Sarah regrets having sent him into the desert? That her heart was wounded too on that morning, even though she was the one who had cast them out?

And what would that do to God’s heart? To the wounded rift that had torn His chest?

And you… our precious Ruths, who have been following these posts so faithfully, how would that affect your prayers on behalf of our insane region? Please take another look at the picture of the wounded rift. Now check your hearts – on which bank do you feel most comfortable? Are you able to step off that bank, walk into the bleeding wound, and start watering it with your tears? Are you able to mingle them with some healing Balm – with scriptural promises that speak of healing for this pain-filled land and our surroundings?

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Most Christians tend to stand on one bank of the rift or the other.
During this journey we chose to stay inside it, inside the wound,
and to the best of our ability align with God’s heart for both sides.
After all, this rift is right inside His heart

Passing, Crossing and Wrestling (7)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 7    |    May 19, 2018, evening)

“Passage of Jabok.” Again this word that means “crossing over, passing” – ABR in Hebrew. “Jabok” means wrestling, and that adds a powerful meaning to what was about to take place. That region is a strategic site, as many Biblical stories took place there. The one I was fascinated with is Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel of the LORD.

Jacob arrives there while his identity and behavior are still much like the ones of a deceiver, who follows the heels of others (his brother, while still in the womb; his wives, when he planned to let them cross the passage before him, just in case…). But in that spot he wrestles with the Face of God, goes through a transformation and receives a new identity. No more a deceiver. Now he is someone who wrestled, yet prevailed. Thus the name “Israel” (Gen. 32:25-31. See also Hosea 12:3-5).

More than 400 years later, a few miles from there, his descendants were preparing to cross over again, this time as a young nation. The One Jacob wrestled with, they already started to reject. This Angel of God’s Faces is about to be hidden from the nation for centuries. That will lead to an ongoing national wrestling with God through a valley of tremendous sufferings, until we will embrace Him again for who He really is.

Our Own Wrestling as a Team

We arrived at the Jabok river late in the afternoon, which left us a short hour to do whatever the Lord wanted us to. It took us a while to find a suitable spot. As I reflect now on that evening, I realize we were wrestling ourselves. We could not find the right spot, or a stone to sit on; we were not sure how to pray, and battled to connect our hearts and spirits with His. When Rania asked Hermana if she gets anything in prayer, Hermana responded: “I’m struggling to connect.” She most likely expressed what all of us felt.

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We looked at each other scattered,
a bit confused, clueless as to what we should do next

I held my head, and tried to figure out what part of Israel’s widowhood or Jordan’s destiny should be prayed over at this location. Jacob wrestled during the night, so all of us asked God to show His Faces to both nations, on both sides of the Jordan river, this time in daylight.

I prayed that our wrestling as a nation will end; and for the ability to look into the Face of the Beautiful Man from Nazareth (a phrase Rania loves to use when she refers to Yeshua); and that we will see in Him the Lover of our soul and not the biggest enemy of our nation. I prayed against the limping in our national walk: “Touch our feet, O Balm of Gilead, with your healing hands.”

“Something is burning in my heart,” Rania said. “It has to do with the dependence of Israel on the arm of the flesh. Our military, our wisdom – as if these will rescue us. The change for Jacob happened when he yielded to the Angel and stopped wrestling.”

It stirred up something within me, so I responded: “I ask you, God, to help me wrestle with you on behalf of our national strength, wits and manipulation. Forgive us, forgive me, for relying on my own understanding, for not trusting you with all our hearts, for leaning unto our own understanding, for not acknowledging you in all our ways and letting you direct our paths. For being wise in our own eyes and not fearing you (see prov. 3:5-7).”

From the very first day of my walk with the Lord, He has been pointing to this horrible habit I have – to rely on my own wisdom and ability. What seems like a great strength can easily become a terrible weakness. At the passage of Jabok I realized that this is one more junction, where my personal wrestling with God’s standards runs parallel to Israel’s ongoing battle. The world commends the Jews for our talents and wisdom. Indeed, these are God’s given gifts to us, but unless they are redeemed and submitted to His ways, we will continue to limp. So once more I was battling for both myself and my nation.

A Unique Form of Exile

Rania started declaring: “Exile is being away from your mother’s heart, being a widow without your sons. Even being without The Son – Jesus, who hid His face from the nation. The womb of Israel birthed the Messiah, but she [Israel] rejected the Son of her own womb.

“Come back, come back to your place, Israel, and receive your mother’s heart again. The Arab Ruths are calling and saying: ‘Stand up and embrace us again. We will be nursed on your bosom and receive comfort when you will take your place. There will be safety when you arise to your place.’ ”

No Longer Widow, Not Yet a Bride

The team continued to pray with me and over me. In my absent mindedness I was hit mostly by a couple of phrases they were repeating: “No more a widow, you are a mother, Mama Naomi”. I have been wrestling to see a white bride emerging out of the black clothes of widowhood, but at the shore of Jabok I finally got it: my nation is no more a widow, not yet a bride. We are a mother nation.

It all of a sudden dawned on me that I need to make a choice. Will I let go of our national identity as a broken and bitter widow, who needs Ruths to show her the path to the Redeemer, to lend us their spiritual wombs and provide for our needs? Or will we choose to be resurrected, and against all odds, at an old age, start birthing, enlarge our wombs and become a mother nation? Can you imagine how that would affect the rest of the world?

It sounded beautiful, spiritual, right. But embracing it was not simple. This was a wrestling point. For me personally, and I could tell it would be so for my nation as well, as I have been carrying this Naomi-Mara identity for a long time.

Will she cross over? Will I? Will she stop wrestling with Him and start co-operating? Will she fulfill her identity as a Hebrew, as the one who dares to cross?

I had to ponder over that. And as darkness started covering us around, I finally said “yes.”

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Crossing back over in the dark

I chose to move across the river, into the promised land – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Not knowing what God was planning for us the next day, at Jabok I opened my heart to take on a new identity.

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Starting our prayers with salt, bread and wine

“Mama Naomi,” Tian Jie declared, “release comfort, healing, acceptance, forgiveness to Jordan. This land is full of anger and rejection, and it needs comfort.”

Rania opened her Bible and started proclaiming Isaiah 54 over Israel, and over me: “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed…”

 

Falling in Love with a Region (6)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 6    |    May 19, 2018)

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Gilead – good Heavens! The curves, the colors. Jordan turned out to be so much more than I expected. As we headed up north, crossed Aman and traveled through the mountains of Gilead, I fell in love. With the people, the view, the geography. It resembles the northern part of Israel, but so much more dramatic. And it is surprisingly green and flourishing. In many ways it felt like home.

Wild wheat fields everywhere reminded us the season we were at – the eve of Shavuot, Pentecost. And that modern Naomi is still trying to find her ancient path back.

Come Here, There Is Room For All Of You

Majd (alias), a 28 year old Moslim, who manages the hotel where we stayed, exemplified the true heart of loving hospitality.

When he found out I’m an Israeli Jew, he expressed his love with such gentle care. “I listen to the news,” he told me, “and I hear how often you fight over land there. Come here,” he exclaimed as he stretched out his hand through the open door, pointing towards the barren hills of Gilead, “there is enough room for all of us.”

When Majd found out about our journey through wheat fields, he wanted to show us the traditional methods of grinding and baking. Since we had no time left for that in our schedule, he brought me a large bag of freshly ground flour.

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Magd’s gift of flour made it all the way across the border and into Israel.
My usual sensitivity to gluten did not apply in Jordan.
I enjoyed their bread, made of wild wheat, without reacting to it 

Ruth Broke the Curse

On their way into the Promised Land, the Israelites planned to cross Moab, but were not allowed, which lengthened their wondering in the desert. As a result, God declared a punishment over Moab (modern Jordan):

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord. Even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever, because they met you not with bread and with water in the way when you came forth out of Egypt…” (Deut. 23:3-4).

Majd had no idea that he was a “sign” of the braking of the curse pronounced over Jordan thousands of years ago. But we did. He welcomed us, me, with bread and fruit and a bonfire in the evening, and much tender care.

Ruth, in her tender care of Naomi, reversed that curse when she provided grain and bread to her mother in law. Majd was another confirmation of that.

Jordan On a Tray

Some of the local believers we met have gone straight into my heart. The simple, humble, warm attitude knocked on a door deep inside me, a door that longs for a family embrace. At one point, after opening one more bag of gifts (I was showered with gifts all along the way), I could not contain it anymore. The only thing I could do was cry.

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I felt like Jordan was given to me on a tray. “What am I supposed to do about it?” I wondered. I traveled to Jordan to find the ancient path for Naomi, for Mara, so she can heal from her bitterness and return to the House of Bread as a pleasant bride. And on the way I realized I am recruited to a task that have never crossed my mind before.

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“Orna, you are welcome to Jordan,” said the local couples who met us for lunch, and probably had no idea how deep every word of that common blessing went inside me.

Rima (alias) did not know much about the purpose of our journey and the mission God has given us. Thus, her impression of our first meeting served as one more confirmation for what was already taking place inside me. She later told Priscilla: “I felt that Orna would become a strong mother for Arab women. Many Arab women will come to her chest and will cry and she will cry with them. She may not have anything in her hands, but she will pray with them and love them… When they will cry with her, they will be healed. She is a very good mother for our nation.”

Her husband commented later: “I felt like she brought healing with her for our land and for the two nations. She is a woman of authority. She will make a breakthrough in the land because of what she is carrying in her spirit for both nations.”

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As the afternoon sun was moving towards the west, we said our goodbyes, wishing we had more time to get to know each other better. So we said our goodbyes, and hopped on the van, heading towards the site I was so looking forward to see: the Passage of Jabok.

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