In October 2000, during the Feast
of Tabernacles, a bride and groom walked hand in hand, looking at each
other shyly, toward their wedding "tabernacle." Around the white cloth
chuppah canopy and its crimson flowers stood four groomsmen together with
the officiating "Uncle Rabbi" and the beaming, teary-eyed father of the
Our wedding procession
It was a rapturous moment witnessed by 400 guests, family and friends: a
harmonious unity between an African-born Jew and an American-born Jew, now
both planted in the Land of Israel. It was a canvas painting, colorfully
illustrating the reality of God's promises of His people returning to
the Land and inheriting His blessings. The wedding canopy stood on a small
peninsula jutting out over a small pool. The wedding processional recalled
the path through the Red Sea with water on both sides, opening the way to
the Land of God's promises.
That exultant evening was page one and day one of the tale of our life
together as a new family in Land of our Fathers.
However...bathed in the gladness of our celebration, we were only vaguely
aware of the rapidly degenerating political atmosphere in the country.
Ironically, the very next day, on the first morning of our honeymoon we
were greeted with shocking news pictures. We saw on the television screen,
a man waving his blood-stained hands from the police station window of
Ramallah. This man had participated in a violent lynching of two Israelis -
Vadim Nurzich and Yossi Avrahami who had accidentally entered Palestinian
territory. This incident the day after our wedding marked the beginning of
the Second Intifada.
In Israeli life, too often the joyful and sorrowful coexist almost
Back to the Future
Now fifteen years later as we celebrate our "crystal" wedding anniversary,
the nation again faces rising political tensions tending towards a Third
Intifada. The term Intifada comes from the Arabic word "shaking" but is
understood to mean an uprising. This current Intifada has already claimed
several lives. One incident which captured headlines and escalated tension
was the brutal killing of a young couple - Eitham and Naama Henkin who were
shot from close range while driving in their car with their four children.
This killing happened right in front of their children. Having four
children ourselves, we soberly wonder what the future holds for our nation?
- What does the future hold for these four children who saw their
parents killed because of being Jewish?
- What does the future hold for the Middle East?
- What does the future hold for our lives here in Israel?
No single reason can be pointed to as the main cause of this uprising. The
ongoing incitement in the Palestinian population towards the Jews, as well
as individual incidents of killings or attempts from extreme members of
both sides - Jewish and Arab - have all contributed to this volatile
state. But one of the most explosive ingredients for this uprising has
been the Muslim High Holiday Id-El-Adcha (Holiday of Atonement/Offering).
During these four days Muslims gather at mosques or Mecca to pray and
participate in the holiday. Ironically this holiday is connected to what is
called Akedat Ishmael - the Binding of Ishmael, commemorated by offering a
lamb which would then be eaten during the festivities. The Muslims believe
that it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was bound by Abraham to be
sacrificed. Unfortunately this holiday has been associated with igniting
hostility towards Jews. The Muslim prayer houses have been used to induce
zealots to hatred and violence towards Zion.
Murdered Henkin couple
survived by 4 children
As fate would have it, in our coexistence with the Arab/Muslim world, we
Jews also have a similar Holiday. During the Days of Awe at Rosh Hashanah
we also read Akedat Yitzchak - the Binding of Isaac - by Abraham as
commanded by God. How ironic is it then that we read of Isaac's
binding and the Muslims read of Ishmael's binding, and we are facing
such a clash between our peoples!
Isn't it so clear that we all need an offering?! One that would be
offered up on behalf of the both of us. This is key to understanding our
region. The root reason for the crisis in the Middle East is the question
of jealousy and acceptance.
"Who has got the right offering?"
"And who is the rightful heir and promised son of Avraham?"
Addressing this root cause, God has already graciously provided an
effective redemption. It is only in the "Binding" and Offering of Yeshua,
the Lamb of God, that we can find true acceptance and redemption. Five
thousand years ago God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son and told
him that He had was the one who would bind and provide the sacrifice. This
is the message that we need to revisit again. May this revelation be
realized and released to our peoples.
Would you please pray for this season?
For the angels of God to protect innocent lives.
That our people would be able to see hope, peace, and redemption for the
We believe this is what the future holds, that we will go through these
trials and tribulations until we finally come to realize it was the Son of
God who was bound and pierced for our sake. Then we will experience revival
in the Land, and the King will come rule over us forever. In the end, there
will be a Wedding one day whose joy will not be tempered by the sadness and
the tragedy of hatred. For when the Bridegroom returns He will gather His
Bride to an everlasting joy of the New Jerusalem and the rest of eternity
will be an anniversary celebration.
In the meantime, our marriages testify that God is true to His promises of
blessing. And, may the coming of the ultimate Bridegroom happen sooner
rather than later. Amen!