Israel 2016: Days of Transition
Coming to Jerusalem at the invitation of the Almighty for one of His feasts means stepping into a bubble of time and space. It is holy and joyous, but like all good things is must end at some point. My friend Pete has written about the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles our families shared in the moshav (village) of Gi’vat Ye’arim. I cannot improve on what he shared in his post called Embraced! (To read it, please go here: https://natsab.com/2016/10/24/embraced/)
Our farewell to Gi’vat Ye’arim arrived on October 25. We travelled from there in three cars to Ariel, site of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress. The plan as to take the highway to the coast and drive up Route 2 along the Mediterranean, then stop at Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Ba’al (I Kings 18), and from there go to Ariel. We did not count on Tel Aviv traffic! Before long we became separated, leaving my wife, Charlayne, our daughter Katie, Pete’s son Jeremiah, and myself to make our own way.
It turned out to be a very pleasant journey. We did dip our feet in the sea at Caesarea, where the old Roman aqueduct still stands. The calm blue of the water captured our admiration, but could not keep me from remembering that the ships of at least five navies were playing games of cat-and-mouse not that far away in the deadly dance over Syria. Such thoughts are never far away when one is in Israel. And yet they did not diminish our enjoyment of Caesarea that day.
As we resumed the journey, we drove to and through the Mount Carmel National Park. The views are splendid, the roads wind up and down the hills, and sometimes large trucks slow the journey. Driving through the Druze town on the slopes of the Carmel Range was a cultural experience – made more interesting by a wrong turn down a side street. (Hint: never, ever, ever do that in the Middle East!)
Eventually we arrived at the Carmelite monastery which is the traditional site of Elijah’s victory. There we were reunited with our friends, thanks to the timely arrival of several tour busses why I blocked their cars in the parking lot for an hour! We had time to take in the stunning views of the Jezreel Valley and of the imposing statue of Elijah on its tall pedestal before continuing on to our final destination: the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel.
Since arriving here we have enjoyed continuous fellowship with old and new friends from 15 countries and six continents. The Congress convened last night, October 26, with a review of the First Congress by Ephraim and Rimona Frank, and reports from delegates of the participating countries. Mike Clayton provided a short exhortation from Scripture which set the tone for these five days. He pointed out that Judah’s returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah celebrated Sukkot (Tabernacles) after building Jerusalem’s wall, and then assembled on the 24th day of the seventh month to fast, pray, read the Torah, and declare their repentance and allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to His covenant (see Nehemiah 8 and 9). As Mike pointed out, we returning Ephraimites just happen to have assemble on the 24th day of the seventh Hebrew month to convene our Congress for the same purpose. As in all things of YHVH, that is not a coincidence.
The evening ended with a time of worship and dance, featuring a powerful dance presentation by the Dutch group Mahanaim (Two Camps). They depicted two brides – Judah in white and Ephraim in red – who separated, fought with one another, and in the end were reunited by the same Bridegroom they both love. Their performance established a worshipful tone which introduced Andrew Hodkinson of South Africa to lead us all in song and dance. Those of us who joined the dance circle had come from Holland, England, Fiji, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, the USA. Together we danced as one people, brought near by the Messiah we adore to the brother we have longed to embrace here in this land of Israel. At the of the evening, Ed Boring of the USA led us all in singing Hatikvah – Israel’s national anthem. It could not have been a better ending to these days of transition.