10 Days In Israel – Day 1 (continued) A Day of Surprise

Thirteen & a half hours later we arrive in Tel Aviv with red eyes but full of excitement at the prospect of what the day holds. (It is still the first day according to the Jewish reckoning of time, each day beginning at the evening before the dawn.) As we make our way through David Ben Gurion Airport – a brand new, “state of the art” building design – we are impressed by how warm and welcoming a space it is. Hans reminds us that we are here as the Lord invited guests; that in fact, no one sets foot on Israel soil except by His expressed will. The gate at the end of the last corridor that opens to the bus depot above is beautifully decorated with large fragments of Cuneiform or similar Middle Eastern script. It stands as a kind of threshold marking the commencement of a journey through time to the rudiments of human civilization and culture and Genesis of all things in God.

Driving into the heart of the city we notice people in masks and costume disguise. Raphe our guide tells us that it is Purim – a great feast of food and drink and the giving of gifts (especially to the needy), in celebration of the God who hides himself in order to work sudden deliverance for his people who are in grave and impending danger. The biblical background to the feast is found in the Book of Esther. The Lord works secretly through the righteous Mordecai and Esther to overturn and destroy the diabolical Haman and his genocidal plot and exalt His people to a place of honor and privilege in the city of their exile (Susa). At the core of the story, is the marvel of God’s masterful timing – which makes me wonder at the “timeliness” of our arrival in Israel. Hans hastens to assure me that this detail had escaped his notice entirely when he was working out the planning details. My thoughts turn to Mordecai, God’s appointed guardian who stands watch at the gates and saves a Persian tyrant and his city from conspiracy to high treason. And I ask myself, as missiles rain down by the hundreds upon the city of Ashdod 40 miles to the south (Israel still has its share of enemies, some at least as old as Haman and the Amalekites ), what guardian role is the Lord calling the Christian Church to play today on behalf of his chosen people Israel? What righteous stand is He calling her to make, whose word exhorts: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper that love thee” (psm 122.6)? Then my mind turns closer to home, to the gate city of St. John’s and the Garrison Church of St. Thomas’ , and I begin to pray for the gate keepers of our city – the pastors and Christian leaders, the judges and politicians – that the Lord may order and sustain them in righteousness.