I remember writing in February and expressing optimism about the upcoming season that seemed to be activited in my heart with the warmer temperatures and the first spring flowers budding in my garden. Looking back, my optimism was well founded! Two months since then and Israel has experienced a radical decline in the virus with only about 2100 active cases in the whole country today and it declines daily. The country has opened up and beginning this past Sunday, we no longer had to wear masks outdoors. The first tourist group is arriving on May 23rd and with it the hope that it won’t be long before the tourist industry will be able to return to its former activity.
Yesterday, I passed a group of women from my moshav who were on their way to the bus stop to join the first organized bus trip in well over a year! They were so happy! There is a feeling that life is returning to pre-Covid days. It’s a good feeling!
The reduction in the virus numbers allowed the nation to go through this month’s Holidays and Remembrance Days with very little restraints. We were able to celebrate Passover in our homes with family and friends and to rejoice in our deliverance, not only from the slavery of our people and from sin, but from the oppressive year that we had with all our lockdowns.
One week after Passover, the dark days of the Holocaust were once again remembered and relived as the nation observed Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. For 24 hours, incredible stories are told of unimaginable cruelty and supernatural heroism, survivors are honored and the nation mourns for the 6 million who were murdered. Each year, the country attempts to come to terms with and understand an evil that is incomprehensible.
The siren is sounded for 2 minutes on this day and the entire population stops whatever they are doing to stand in honor of those whose lives were so cruelly taken. The traumatic horror of the Holocaust is part of the foundation of this nation, part of the culture and personality of its people. Israel must never forget.
And just one week from that day is Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day. This very somber day, beginning the evening of the 13th, honors the soldiers who have been killed in all the wars this nation has fought and all those who have died in terror attacks throughout the years. Roads are jammed as millions go to cemeteries throughout the country to visit the graves of family members and friends. The only broadcasts on television and radio are the stories of those whose lives were cut short. Once again, the siren is sounded, and all of Israel stops to honor the memory of those who have fallen to protect this country. There are no barbeques, no picnics, no entertainment. These are times of solemn remembrance.
And as the sun fades on that sad day, ending a grief filled week of looking back, joy erupts suddenly, at exactly 8:00 pm, on the 14th, as Yom Hazmaut, Independence Day begins. The streets of every city and town were filled with people having fun as Israel celebrated its 73rd birthday. From the Holocaust to Independence, from death to life, from despair to hope – Israel is a miraculous testimony of the truth of God as He fulfilled his word for all to see and redeemed the tragic history of his people and most recently, those who suffered in the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism will never disappear but because Israel lives, there is always a place for Jews to call home.
This year, with all that has gone on, I was once again deeply impressed with what an amazing country this is! Rising up out of such devastation and in a few short years becoming a world leader in so many areas is nothing less than the hand of God on this people. The techological innovation that comes from this small nation is often mind boggling. The advances in science, health and the arts are “beyond” and increasing!
And yet the determination to stand against anti-Semitism, the perseverance, the will to survive against all odds, in some way also gives strength to the resistance to the Gospel. Yeshua is blamed for the anti-Semitism, it is deep within the culture, deep within the hearts of the people. They can believe anything and it is tolerated – just not “Jesus”. Even citizenship is denied to those who are believers in Yeshua.
And yet Yeshua IS their Messiah and the Word says that “all Israel will be saved.” We walk in faith believing that we will see that day and our faith keeps us going as we continue to plow up the hard ground and plant seeds wherever we can. And we believe that with the same passion that the majority exhibits now against Yeshua, one day we will be a nation who believes with that same intensity that He is their God and Messiah!
Israel is leading the world in overcoming the virus and achieving herd immunity yet we can’t succeed in forming a workable government. The election results did not give any one candidate the mandate they needed. Controversy, division and disunity is reigning once again. This one won’t join a government led by Netanyahu, another one won’t sit in a government led by Lapid and the Arab party has become somehow central in all the negotiations, though its numbers are relatively small.
Netanyahu is fighting a huge battle for his political life, even as he faces criminal charges and has to appear in court while he is Prime Minister. Yesterday he lost a significant vote in the Knesset indicating that his support base is weakening and there appears very little chance he can put together a government.
Although the virus numbers are so low, there are still restrictions in how many can meet indoors with a distinction being made between vaccinated and non. Due to that, our congregation still can’t meet in our hall. For the forseeable future, our schedule is to meet in the park. It is a blessing to be able to be there in a larger group but we don’t have the freedom we would indoors as we can’t use any amplification and the weather, although dry, will be getting hotter as summer approaches.
Please join with us in prayer as we stand against all the strategies of the enemy to discourage, divide and destroy. We pray that in these days when all is shaking, that the eyes of Israel would be open and they would see the God who has brought them from slavery, through the Red Sea on dry ground and who brought them from the gas chambers of Europe to the Land where God is fulfilling all His promises to them. May they see the One who has brought victory in every war when it seemed totally impossible. May they recognize Yeshua, the one who gave His life to deliver them forever from the bondage of sin and to give them the gift of eternal life in His presence.
And I thank you so deeply for standing with me personally as I go forward with hope and joy in His service.
With love from Zion,