You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is
the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26, 3-4)
When Eddie was first diagnosed with brain cancer and we could see the long battle looming in front of us, we wanted above all to continue to walk in victory. As we began our journey, I was impressed that true victory was to go through the difficult places in His peace, trusting the Lord. Now recently, I found myself struggling to deal with all that is going on in the world and in Israel, in particular. The situation here, instead of improving as we had all anticipated, seemed to be getting worse. In the spirit, I felt as if the enemy had stabbed this nation in its heart and it was bleeding profusely. It was very disturbing. And then as I was praying one day, the Lord reminded me of His promise; if we will trust Him in everything, we will receive His peace. To walk in this peace which overcomes the world is the true victory, whether the situation improves or deteriorates. He is the rock eternal on which we stand.
The month long celebration of the High Holy Days; Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succoth have begun. But this year is different. A three week lockdown was declared starting at 2PM Friday, just hours before the onset of Rosh Hashana. As it was during the holiday of Passover in the spring, police blockades were once again set up preventing travel between cities, families could not celebrate the festive meal together and the elderly were isolated.
All stores, malls and places of entertainment are now closed for at least the duration of the holiday season, except for those providing essential services. Hotels which were wonderfully filled with reservations for the month and had done all the preparations for the holiday, including being stocked with all the food they would need, had to close their doors. It was a very sad day as once again the tourist industry of Eilat and the Galilee shut down for an unknown period. Two weeks since reopening the schools after the summer break, they are now back to remote learning for a minimum of the three weeks of the lockdown. Just when life seemed to be a bit more normal – kids were in school, parents were working, stores were busy, commerce was returning to its former level and there was excitement and anticipation over the coming holidays, in one moment, everything was brought to a painful screeching halt.
Overall, it’s been a time of uncertainty, confusion, anger and great disunity here in Israel. The virus numbers have been going up steadily, there was concern that the hospitals were reaching their limit on serious cases and there was great pressure on the government to “do something”. Although many influential people, including various government leaders and those in the medical field did not feel that a total lockdown would be effective or necessary, politics appeared to win out. It was finally voted on and passed and Israel became the first country in the world to impose a lockdown for the second time! The economic cost of this is very high and it is difficult to watch the small businessmen being forced to close down, some never to recover. Many businesses did not make it after the last lockdown.
Happily, the airport is continuing to be open and Israelis can fly out to certain approved nations. Thousands of Israelis grabbed tickets at the last moment to various destinations in order to escape the lockdown. There are still no tourists allowed to enter the country.
Israel is small and very homogenous, and as a nation, we do everything together and at the same time. It’s always been a unique and charming characteristic of this country. Although an attempt was made to just restrict the areas which were excessively high in the virus numbers, it was unsuccessful and as a result, the whole country had to abide by a lockdown.
Please join us in praying for this nation. Pray for unity above all, that the leaders would walk in wisdom and with strategy from heaven to combat this incredible situation with the pandemic. Pray that the virus will weaken and be controlled. PM Netanyahu has even said that if this lockdown doesn’t succeed in reducing the numbers, then stricter measures will be enforced. There is also a sense that reopening the country after the current lockdown will be much more gradual than the last time which means closures may continue for an even longer time.
Thankfully, breakthrough continues on the international front as the historic normalization treaty, “The Abraham Accords” between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel was signed in Washington last week. Everyone is very optimistic and excited by the sons of Abraham being reconciled and there are reports that at least five more Arab countries will soon join this movement.
This treaty, unlike the one with Jordan and Egypt is being declared as “warm” with lots of kind and welcoming words being expressed by both sides. Tourism is being encouraged and no doubt this will lead to more economic benefits in increased trade between all the countries.
On the Hebrew calendar, we have just entered the year 5781. Although not the true Biblical New Year, it is the traditional New Year for Israel. On each holiday table is the plate with apples and honey. We eat the apples dipped in honey and wish each one a very sweet New Year. Although the world is in turmoil, the people continue to be optimistic that these trials will indeed pass and better times will come. We believe that the better times will be as more and more Israelis open their hearts to their Messiah, Yeshua! We hear reports here and there of a new openness among the people. Many more are listening and watching evangelistic video broadcasts. Pray that it would increase and that we would be bold and faithful to bring the only really “Good News” to our people.
These are truly awesome times! In this year of 5781, may we align ourselves with the purposes of God as never before and may we feel His presence each and every minute in our lives as we walk through these uncharted roads. May our hearts be continually joined to His heart, and may His peace reign. May we be ready to give a reason for the hope that lives in our hearts, no matter how challenging the situation.
God is good and there is no darkness in Him. May we walk in His light and encourage one another and all the more as we see the Day approaching.
I wish you all a most blessed and wonderful New Year – filled with the riches of his grace poured out in the sweetness of His love.
With love from Zion,