A Debt of Gratitude

Paul and I both love Israel. We personally realize that we owe a great deal to our Jewish brothers and sisters who sacrificed so much for the sake of the spiritual condition of the Gentiles of the pagan lands during the first and second centuries.

This grassroots movement of the followers of Yeshua was made up of His own countrymen. These Jews, in essence, became the light of the entire Gentile world as they sacrificed their very lives to enlighten the nations to come out of paganism, which at the time included child sacrifices, temple orgies and a serious gluttony of food and wine.

The greatest light to the nations came midway through the first century when a Jewish sect called “The Way of Yeshua” broke traditional protocol and began to share the good news of salvation to all the nations. In Jewish understanding “The Way” described the manner in which one lived their lives in relation to God and man and is derived or translated from the Hebrew word hallachah (walking out or practicing one’s faith) from the word holech (walks).

Our family is in Israel as foreigners, sojourners from a faraway country. We are seeking truth, peace of mind and to witness the many sights and places the Bible documents as miracles in battle, places where physical and spiritual healings took place, and supernatural interventions occurred.

We are here at The Feast of Tabernacles to follow a time-honored Jewish tradition that Jesus, himself, observed and to make memories that will last a lifetime. We understand “The Way of Yeshua,” and our desire is to walk in it.

Appointments with God

Leviticus 23:2 depicts the celebrations that many Christians refer to as “Jewish holidays.” “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies” (NIV, emphasis added by author).

These feasts are not so much Israel’s festivals, or festivals for the Jews, but rather God’s appointments with man. Festivals of the Lord. These are God’s feasts that He gave to His people.

It was Passover—the feast Yeshua so longed to celebrate with His disciples—that the early church fathers and believers kept and honored for centuries until First Testament wisdom began to be replaced by emerging new doctrines. In many ways, true biblical “Christianity,” which was the 1st century faith of Yeshua, was hijacked. We ventured off from the rich root of Yeshua’s ways, His lessons with their confounding idioms, His culture and traditions, His Jewish mindset, the feasts He loved, and the Word (or Torah) He embodied.

Today, many Christians are re-examining these rich appointed times of God. They are seeing the value of integrating these celebrations into their lives, and are paying homage to these festivals—these feasts—by returning to the feasts Yeshua loved. In so doing, Christians are actually fulfilling prophecy.

Adonai Tzva’ot (The Lord of Hosts) says concerning the appointed times, “When that time comes, ten men will take hold — speaking all the languages of the nations — will grab hold of the cloak of a Jew and say, ‘We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you’” (Zechariah 8:23 CJB).

At the beginning of the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya says, “How do we keep our balance in life? We have traditions for everything—how to eat, sleep, dress, worship, celebrate, and live. Because of this, everyone knows who he is and what God expects of him. Without our traditions, life would be as shaky as … a fiddler on the roof!”

Tradition is one of the cornerstones of the Jewish life. I remember watching Fiddler as a young girl, and it was Tevya’s opening song, Tradition, that stood out in my mind. I can hear it now as I think about our decision to make Israel the destination of this year’s annual family vacation.

Life is all about the rhythm – the heartbeat – and the balance of tradition and biblical truth.

Today, our Nathaniel Foundation supports numerous worldwide ministries in the nations and in Israel, including Vision for Israel. The founders, Barry and Batya Segal, are hosting us on this trip and will be joining us for dinner this evening at our hotel.

We arrive in Israel just before sundown and there’s a tangible excitement in the air as the entire nation prepares for the High Holy Days. To be able to share this special place with our children and grandchildren at an equally special time is a hallmark experience.

People are hungry for knowledge and truth, and God is bringing us together for such a time as this. An estimated six thousand Christians have traveled from all over the world to celebrate this special holiday. It is also the birthday of our oldest daughter, Shannon Michelle, who will be joining us here in Jerusalem with her husband and six children, making the day all the more memorable.

Safe Landing

The shouts, squeals, and applause when our wheels hit the runway are deafening, but they confirm my expectations. I hope the same experience greets our other children and grandchildren as they arrive on airlines from different locations and make their way to the King David hotel where everyone will stay.

With my feet about to touch Jewish soil, I feel more alive than ever. We are about to embark on a nine-day family vacation unlike anything we have experienced before. In fact, it’s a blessing that is really a gift from God—a gift He promised me long ago.

Memories of His prophetic promise flood over me as the jet coasts to a stop on the tarmac where a caravan of vehicles awaits us.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me this amazing family, for bringing us all here to Your homeland, for giving me the gift of Your Spirit, and for giving me another chance at life.

I was a teenager when God gave me the mandate that eventually brought Paul and me into a passionate pursuit of the Jewish Jesus…Yeshua—a journey that began with my death on a cold hospital bed in the ICU many years ago.

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