Jeremiah 31, the chapter that contains the promise of a New Covenant, begins with this word of hope:
Thus says the Lord: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.'” (Jeremiah 31:2-6)
This passage contains some surprises. First of all, it links the New Covenant of redemption to Israel’s restoration to the Promised Land. Second, and perhaps most important, this prophetic promise is being fulfilled right now!
Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith and his wife, Leah, bring a personal testimony of how this prophecy is being fulfilled. As long time residents of the Itamar community in the Shomron (Samaria), they live in the very place where Jeremiah’s words promise the planting of vineyards and the joyful return to Zion at the appointed times of the Lord.
But the sentinels of Itamar, and in other communities of Judea and Samaria (the region much of the world knows as the “West Bank”), often have less joyful reports to announce. Itamar has frequently experienced tragic losses since its foundation in 1984. Those losses include the entire Fogel family, murdered in their beds by Arab assailants in March 2011.
If life in Itamar is so dangerous, why do people stay there? That is what we will learn from Moshe and Leah. Expect a good report from the Land of Israel from people who know it well.