Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!
Shabbat (Sabbath) begins at sundown on Friday evening and lasts through sundown on Saturday. As I write, Shabbat has ended here in Israel, but as I learned today, it is proper to continue saying “Shabbat Shalom” through the weekend.
Shabbat is a time of rest (as Jesus did on the seventh day of creation week) and “shalom” means peace or wholeness, so the greeting actually means “Have a peaceful time of rest.”
However, as believers in Jesus, the significance grows deeper. Hebrews teaches us that Jesus is our Sabbath rest! He is also our shalom, the peace that passes all understanding! Jesus is the fulfillment of rest and peace!
But in Israel, with Shabbat comes the closing of Jewish businesses. Thus, we choose carefully what to do when Jewish sites are closed!
Our day began in Bethlehem where we met with Pastor Ziyad Bannuora. As a Palestinian ministering in Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem and Jericho, he has a unique opportunity to minister to people groups with whom missionaries would have very limited opportunity. Yet, the work is challenging in Muslim-dominated areas.
But God is moving in powerful ways, as we have heard through the pastors we have met in Israel. With boldness, Nessianic, Arab and Palestinian pastors are proclaiming the Gospel to Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians throughout the land!
Pastor Ziyad and his congregation of Palestinian believers will have a very special project this December: Christmas in Bethlehem. It will be a special outreach to the city of Bethlehem, and the Gospel will go out loud and clear in the birthplace of Jesus.
So, can anything good come from the West Bank? Absolutely yes! The Gospel is going forth from there! It is not easy work, though, so please pray for open doorways of opportunity for the Word to go out and take root.
While in Bethlehem, we also gazed upon the shepherds fields where lambs were raised for use in temple sacrifices. Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was born in a cave (not a wood-structured stable we often think of in western culture) here in the shepherds fields of Bethlehem!
Later we made our way to Tel Azekah, an ancient city overlooking the Vally of Elah where David defeated Goliath. Seeing the valley from above provides a fantastic viewpoint to visualize the positioning of the Philestines and Israelites as they squared off, and as David took on the giant.
It is an absolutely beautiful site, and we had a special treat at Tel Azekah. But, time doesn’t allow me to finish now, so check back later for the rest of the story!