I sit in this Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, overlooking a hill crowded with square structures – homes – tightly squeezed over the hill.
I sit here in this area, populated by Christian and Muslim Arabs – it seems strange, but it is an area that it is risky for a Jew to enter. Unsafe actually. Just a 10 minute walk away and we are in West Jerusalem, a predominantly Jewish area. The shops close on Shabbat. Orthodox, conservative, and secular Jews, tourists, and some Arabs, walk the streets in relative ease. Such change.
So close and yet so far… And as I sit, here this morning, doing my sunrise devotional a, I read Isaiah 1:
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children[fn] have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand….They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. (verses 2,3)
I think of Yeshua the Messiah. Come and gone away again into heaven. And yet, so many Jews still wait for him. A coming messiah. The deliverer to come for Zion.
“My people do not understand…”
Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. (Isaiah 1:7,8)
I think of the Temple Mount. So soon after the destruction of the temple and the diaspora scattered to the nations, this holy site. This reverent spot. Is claimed in rivalry.
The children of Ishmael. Rivals in the days of their fathers, rivals today.
I look at all this and I think of God Most High. God Almighty. God awesome in power. Splendid in might. Sovereign.
His hand is not short. His ears are not dull. He knows of the siege of his people.
Last night we watched a live stream of the Azuza Now. A prayer rally. Over 10,000 believers joined in a stadium for a day of prayer.
Joined in unity of worship. We watched as such a strong theme of unity and honor and repentance was represented at this event. First native Americans honored, next Jewish roots and believers, then an honoring of race, healing of racial differences, brotherhood with the Catholic Church…amazing stuff.
I look at the diversity on stage, directly representative of the diversity throughout the auditorium – black, white, Asian, hispanic, men, women, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, charismatic, evangelical, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, whatever! – all joined in prayer, praise, and adoration of the King above all. The master, sovereign over every race, every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. Singing holy, holy, holy is the Lamb that was slain!
And I remember.
It is truly, only in worship of this Lamb of God, that we can ever find ourselves in the unity of heart and spirit that this world craves.
Back here in Jerusalem. I look out over this hill and I chuckle slightly. See, we serve a God who is more concerned with our condition than our comfort. Our heart attitude than our physical coziness. The state of our spirit.
He knew that his people would be in this position, here at the end of all things. He knew. He knows! Perhaps, just perhaps, this is part of his plan…
Because the truth is. Without Messiah Yeshua and the unity that comes from belief in Him, this world, this land of Israel, will never experience Peace.
“Come now, let us reason[fn] together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.”
Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. (Isaiah 1:25-27)