Letter From the Editor

Spring 2005

 

Shalom, Bible Believers,

 

[After 8 weeks in Israel, memories and the desire to share spills over into a lengthy letter this time.]

“A land which the LORD your God cares for: the eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deut. 11:12 – so how could one help sensing His Shalom in eight wonderful weeks in Israel – while staying in Haifa, Jerusalem and the Arava?).

Haifa means beautiful and beautiful it is with its homes cascading down from Mount Carmel’s height. It’s significant that I went there first this time. In past generations – from the beginnings of the modern state of Israel – Haifa has seen thousands of Jewish immigrants come by ship to her great port, a bastion of freedom, especially to survivors of the Holocaust.

On the personal side, our landlady in Ramallah (early ’70’s) was from Haifa and her late husband had been one of the chief men in the port. They moved to Ramallah at the time Israel became a state. Her daughter and family were living in Amman, Jordan when we came to live in Ramallah. Civil war was waging as the king of Jordan was expelling Palestinian Arabs from Jordan. Our landlady asked us to go with her to the Israeli army official, Col. Feldman, to help get permission to bring her daughter and family to live in Ramallah.

On that occasion the governor asked her about living in Haifa during the ’48 war, and had they not heard the announcement from Israel’s sound cars throughout the city, urging the Arab population to remain and not run away as they were being told to do by their leaders? She answered that they had heard, but left because their children were in school in Ramallah and they didn’t want to be separated from them. There, of course, is much more to the story: her request was granted by Israel and I came to know her daughter and family.

Coming back to the present: Upon reaching Jerusalem, I was able to get my cell phone back into working order after being out of Israel for 3 years, and my computer online so that Terry Distin and I could work together though many miles apart. With this increase of communications, comes responsibility for communicating better!

I sought to have a better grasp on what was happening there so I could share more intelligently. I sensed the optimism and relief Israelis were feeling since the terrorists seemingly were ready to talk peace. It was comforting to know when I heard sirens in the streets of Jerusalem that it was not a suicide attack, but rather the usual emergencies.

“When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory” (Psalm 102:16 – Please read, also, verses 13-22).

Even before Israel became a State, this ‘building up’ was in progress as Jews returned here and purchased land from Arabs to establish Jewish communities, called “Yishuv”, meaning “return”. Now since Israel has become a nation among the nations again, the building up has been spiraling. The mountains round about Jerusalem are covered with homes for the “returnees”. The code for buildings continues to be: they must be at least faced with native stone, so the harmony and blending with the terrain is beautiful and amazing.

Michmas

Ma’ale Michmas is the “Yishuv” Bible Light has chosen to help as we can. It is about 15 miles into the mountains northeast of Jerusalem. My friend, Zev Kedem, drove me to Michmas and we found the way relatively easy. Whereas many Israelis were afraid to venture into that part of the country, now they are more relaxed. On the way back we did encounter a roadblock. However, a young lady from the community who needed a ride to Jerusalem was with us; the soldiers seemed to know who she was and waved us through! That’s called “pro-TEK-see-ah” – not what you know, but who!

I returned to Michmas later with Terry Distin, his mother, and several other tourist friends. The community had prepared a scrumptious brunch for us. The almond orchard is thriving much better after the usual setbacks. It is now under the care of Eli File, who also furnishes us with photos.

The cover picture of Bible Light on the News is only one of many from there, including several of Ilan Ramon Street where Bible Light has planted trees. The opportunity to plant trees (and get a lovely certificate for framing) is still available.

Back in Jerusalem: Condoleezza Rice, our new Secretary of State, came during the time I was in Jerusalem. [I didn’t see her, but I joked with friends that I didn’t stay at the prestigious Hotel King David so she could have my room!] What she said when in Turkey before arriving in Israel was good. But she told PM Sharon that “Israel must help, not hinder” – as though it were necessary to say that to Israel! We understand that she has to sound “balanced”, but what is really UN-balanced is the concessions being made – and at US’s insistence! It is still very much a one-way street with Israel doing all the giving. Israelis are so sick of war they will literally give their shirts from their backs. But in exchange for WHAT? For saying “Israel has a right to exist”? What other nation in the world is told, “You have the right to exist”? Does the expression “human rights” apply only to others, not Israel?

Walking the streets of Jerusalem is an experience like none other. When I lived here before most of the sidewalks were wide to accommodate many pedestrians. But like many other places in the world, the cars multiplied faster than parking places and cars were parking on the sidewalks – illegally, but what else could they do? So the city finally gave up and have narrowed the sidewalks in many places, and put in parking meters!

When you walk down the street, look out! Nearly everyone is talking on a cell phone and pushing ahead to his own destination. You learn not to mind brushing up against someone and not bothering to say, “Pardon me.” And don’t be too polite and wait to pass in a congested area or you might be waiting a long time, and be late for your own destination!

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” Fridays in Jerusalem find women out shopping in preparation for the Sabbath. I was very fortunate to be invited to the Flusser’s for a Sabbath meal, and as the custom is I brought flowers which can be purchased almost everywhere on the street – and very reasonable in cost. Dr. Flusser’s widow, Hannah, was also present at her son, Yohanan’s, home on this occasion. I’ve known Yohanan since his Bar Mitzvah age and now he is the able director of a school for special students. I had the joy of getting to know his lovely wife and children.

We need both hands: There is definite tension over the Disengagement Plan. Before going to Israel this time, I saw only one side: that of the settlers. Now, speaking to parents with sons and daughters in the army, their position is quite understandable. “Why should our sons in the army be killed to protect them? There is plenty of room in the south of the country for new settlements.” It is true that many in the army have died, and many severely wounded, because of protecting the communities in the “territories”. And the Arava and Negev have many places yet that do not “blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).

This brought a lot of heart-searching and I again reverted to the example of our mentor in Bible Light, Elmer Josephson, who never liked to be drawn into discussions of Israelis’ internal politics. He often said, “Right or left, religious or secular, they are still God’s people.” There is talk of “arms” and violence and even civil war – and by some Christians in Israel! We know what GOD has promised His people – but didn’t Yeshua HaMessiach (Jesus the Messiah) teach us to conquer by love? Certainly Israel is doing a better job than we of doing what Jesus said, ‘bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you’ !!

Our theme in Bible Light is, “You that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make JERUSALEM a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6,7). Again, please read the whole chapter, along with Isaiah chapter 40, and Zechariah 4:6. The warfare is spiritual, and “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Corinthians 10:4 – read the next verse and apply it to yourself as you “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. The “Peace of Jerusalem” is the beginning of peace everywhere under the reign of the righteous Son of God who taught us to seek first God’s Kingdom and to pray, “Thy Kingdom COME; thy will be DONE on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN.”

Heaven doesn’t have an ethnic problem of any kind! Why should we?

With the atmosphere there growing more tense as the disagreement over “disengagement” intensifies, some thoughts came in Jerusalem that I’d like to share:

·        We must rest our minds somewhere. We live only on Confusion Street if we try to analyze everything and understand all men’s words and debates.

·        We may criticize the secularists in Israel for being too far left; we may criticize the religious for being too far right. But let us never forget that they are ALL recipients of the UNCONDITIONAL Everlasting Abrahamic Covenant.

·        And let us not lose sight of God’s WORLDWIDE view, for He “so loved the WORLD that He gave….” – the Son of His Love who will beat swords into plowshares!

·        For my part, I cast myself on the abundant mercy of God and cling to His Word full of promises.

This might be illustrated as: In the midst of an ocean of raging storm, you see suddenly an available raft and cast yourself upon it. Once upon the raft, you discover it has an anchor that is steady and sure, a foundation available only to the ones who accept the life raft as being there! Then you learn the anchor belongs to the Ship of Zion that can sail through any storm until the Kingdom of God is reached and realized WORLDWIDE. This is not an imaginative dream, but a truth to the believer in God and His Word, revealed to us in the nations through the Gospel of Redemption.

“…by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie [speaking of His two “agents”, His Word and His Spirit by which we know Him] we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast….” (Hebrews 6:18-20).

Jerusalem Post headlines – and those of other newspapers you may see – can be very scary. Such as; “A Darkness Falls on England – British Jewry is growing increasingly concerned as incidents of anti-Semitism, both verbal and physical, reach a level not seen since the Second World War.” A Wednesday paper carried a front page story: “500 million Christians urged to divest”, going on to tell about the World Council of Churches’ central committee encouraging member churches to boycott companies that participate in the Israeli “occupation”. Harping on this again was poor timing when Israel is sacrificing so much toward the “Palestinians”.

The “fence” has cut down drastically the suicide bombers, and other terrorists’ attacks, yet they haven’t completely ceased – which is the prerequisite to peace Israel wants to see. Instead, the PA called for the release of ALL Arab (terrorists) prisoners BEFORE anything else! Little is said of the trauma this causes the Israelis who lost loved ones at the hands of such hate murders – and many who are handicapped for life. During my stay there was a bombing in Tel Aviv – which would have been much worse if security hadn’t kept the terrorist from going inside the building. I had met the parents of one of the victims on a previous visit. Now their grief was unbearable.

Yet, there was encouraging news when you looked for it. Germany’s president, Horst Kohler, used his limited Hebrew in addressing the Knesset and his voice shook as he in a gentle voice spoke about the victims of the Holocaust. Another headline on the same page was “Israel finds a defender in Denmark”. The Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “launched a spirited defense of Israel on the campaign”. And since the Jewish community in Denmark is so tiny, he couldn’t be accused of pandering to the Jewish vote.

The Arava

The weather had been chilly in Jerusalem, so it was a welcome change when my friend, Zev Kedem, drove me to Tamar Biblical Park in the Arava, a few miles south of the Dead Sea. It was sunny and warm and the Dead Sea was a deep blue/green with the Red Moab/Edom Mountains on the East side and magnificent formations on the west, left by ancient Dead Sea events! The exposed strata are a geologist’s dream!

The road runs along the sea that is visible most of the time. At a look out point, my friend pointed to a canal in the Dead Sea which carries mineral waters South to the Dead Sea Works. I learned that he was the engineer for that canal. It is a privilege to see Israel in the eyes of Israelis who have lived there a long time.

Altogether I spent about three weeks at Biblical Tamar Park where I met new and old friends. A lot of progress had been made since I was there last, three years ago. You may wish to become involved in helping this worthy project. DeWayne Coxon of Blossoming Rose who is the curator of the 53-acre project, works closely with the Israeli authorities in the development of this Biblical park. He brings groups to Israel and gives opportunities not available elsewhere in Israel.

After Coxon’s tour group bringing Terry Distin (BLI’s and my “right-hand-man”) and his mother, Lila, arrived, we spent 2 days in Jerusalem and the Galilee under the leadership of Dr. DeWayne Coxon. Then together we went to Tamar from where trips to the south, including Eliat on the Red Sea, were on the program.

The Best Until Last

The last 4 days in Jerusalem was the crowning time of our visit to Israel: (1) Terry, his mother and several others were able to see places they’d missed in Jerusalem, such as the Jewish quarter of the Old City. Because he had been the coordinating engineer in its rebuilding, Zev was able to point out features most tourists miss. (2) But best of all: were the refreshing and enlightening Bible studies at our hotel lobby on 4 occasions – twice with Zev Kedem, once with John Hulley and once Jordy Fedder (a “son” of Elmer’s).

I’m not the only one who senses that this is just the beginning of such sessions in Jerusalem. All in the groups voiced this comment, and after I got back to Kansas I received an e-mail from Jordy that said it well: The talk about true spiritual matters with you and your group was much more than I had expected! I really felt that the Spirit of G-d was with us and that our discussion was adding a few more stitches toward mending the unfortunate tear between Jews and Gentiles…I talked to my Rabbi about it and he not only agreed that this was a very positive step toward the redemption, but he feels the time is now right for such exchanges. Being that I grew up in Kansas, I understand the cultural background of believing Christians and thus am very suited for sharing with them their common heritage in our Jewish sources….”

The author and our friend, John Hulley, is presently in the states at this writing and expects his book, “What is the Messiah Waiting for? A Saga of the Holy Spirit”, to be in print soon.

Zev Kedem is well known in universities and other forums all over the states. Because he is our personal friend, he is very congenial about sharing his knowledge with us. He constantly studies the Scriptures and has some very unique insights to share. Our group thanked me over and again for arranging for him to speak to us.

Finally:

I was encouraged by your letters to BLI office and your e-mails to me in Israel. A good example of the latter was from my niece, Jeanie Edwards of Ozark, Missouri. She wrote: “Aunt Chris, we’re praying that God will lead you for the direction you need to go and that you will find peace with the plans He has for you. Remember He has never failed you in the past….”

My big “Todah Rabbah” [thanks much] for your concern and support. We could never, nor can we now, continue to reach out without others standing with us. Please do remember Bible Light and me in prayer, as I seek to do His will. Terry received 14 pre-press orders for the book, “Judah, You’re Not Alone….” while I was in Israel. I need His help to wrap it up to print.

May you be encouraged and strengthened daily in the Word of the Lord taught by “the Spirit of Truth”.

                                  In the Redeemer’s Name,

Chris