FOR ZION'S SAKE I WILL NOT KEEP SILENT
As we approach the end of the month of Elul, a month of soul searching, repentance and preparation for the High Holy Days, which begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first of Tishrei, (September 25th) which begins the New Year, 5775, and Yom Kippur, (October 4th), the Day of Atonement, and on to the week of Sukkot that ends with Simchat Torah, (October 16th, 22 Tishrei, 5775) we are being reminded, through political events in and around Israel, that we cannot relax our prayer vigil on behalf of Israel and the unfolding of the Sovereign LORD's purposes in this Land.
Grace and I feel so privileged to be here in Jerusalem for "such a time as this".
In the Torah reading for this Shabbat, Deuteronomy 29-31, Moses, the Prophet, predicts that the people, after entering and settling the Promised Land, will drift from the Truth and will suffer exile into the nations of the world, and the devastation of the land to which the Sovereign LORD led them; BUT that the LORD would gather them and restore them to that same land.
This return is in full progress; the Bnei Menashe, some of whom I was privileged to welcome home at the Tel Aviv airport in May, are today touring the Holy sites that they have yearned all of their lives to see. The link will take you to a short video: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/185259#.VBvsY5t0xLN
I wish to write today out of my reflections on the Haftarah portion for this week, Isaiah 61-63; that wonderful portion about the appointment of "watchmen on the wall of Jerusalem".
We believe we are seeing the fulfilment, as G-d's people return to their land, of the words of Isaiah 61 that conclude with:
"I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations."
That last image indicates a process; righteousness will spring up, as plants in a garden "spring up". Harvesting time comes long after the planting has been done. So, what we are seeing around us here in the land today, is part of the planting and growing process, but we trust that harvest will come when the following words will be realised.
“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
The time is coming, and surely has begun, in which the Sovereign LORD will
"comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor."
What a glorious image, or set of images, describing that healing/restoration process. We are all a part in this healing.
Given our FAITH to anticipate the Sovereign LORD's FAITHFUL unfolding of His plan to " [clothe His people] with the garments of salvation", we respond, together with thousands of others, eagerly to the call to the wall:
"I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth."
So we have the audacity to take literally the call to declare that the Sovereign LORD has a plan, and to keep that plan before Him in our intercession.
"For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,[b]
and your land Beulah[c];
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you."
Recently we enjoyed participating in harvesting a vineyard on the slopes of Mount Meron. What a potent symbol of the hope that, as harvest comes from year to year, so surely will the Prophecy of Restoration come to fruition.