Isaiah 60:5-7: And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be called 'Priests of YHVH,' 'Servants of our Elohim' shall be said of you. You shall consume the strength of the nations, and boast in their esteem. Instead of your shame and reproach, they rejoice a second time in their portion. Therefore they shall take possession a second time in their land, everlasting joy is theirs.
Throughout this past week these scriptures of Isaiah 60 have been spoken to us, both by the Jewish people who live in the hills of Samaria, and by the Spirit Himself. We have spent several days visiting in the homes, sheep camps, synagogues and schools of these bold, hard-working, tenacious Jews who take these words of the prophet Isaiah to their hearts and do not just read or speak them, but put their hands and feet to them!
One young couple came to start a community in the "West Bank" area, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Ephraim, and they had only about ten lambs, the strength of their backs and their hands, and a great VISION. Today they have over a hundred lambs, a large olive grove producing fine oil, a thriving synagogue and over thirty families building homes, having Jewish babies to continue the generations of Jacob, and most amazing of all, receiving us "Ephraimites - who believe in Messiah Yeshua - into their hearts and their homes! We were invited into the sheep camp where the little lambs had just been weaned from their mamas and were bleating pitifully, their mamas responding in deep bass voices that made us laugh!
We sat at a table in the midst of all this noise and enjoyed delicious cups of hot tea with honey and mint, freshly-made goat cheese, slices of homemade bread, salads of tomato, cucumber, and eggplant, and wonderful hummus. Our conversation was nothing less than astonishing to me. Both husband and wife exclaimed, "We knew you were coming one day, but we cannot believe you are here!" We spoke about the two sticks in Ezekiel 37, who become ONE (echad) in the Hand of the Father and instead of rejecting us they clapped their hands and rejoiced!
Yesterday we were escorted throughout the ancient ruins of Shiloh and also the incredible facility for children, escorted by David Rubin, Mayor of Shiloh. Shiloh was the place where Eli served as High Priest and where Hannah took her young son Samuel - who would become Israel's great prophet - to live with Eli in the Tabernacle. Shiloh is the place where Joshua rebuilt the tabernacle unto YHVH, and it stood there for 369 years. Today Shiloh is a modern, thriving town, whose people carry the deep wounds of the loss of their children to murdering terrorists. David showed us one single street where no less than five families had had children killed standing near a bus stop or walking through the town. Now all this pain and sorrow has been turned into a great VISION for the healing of children, families, and a people who live daily under the threat of violence, war and death. It never ceases to amaze me how the Jewish people truly live by the principle spoken by their ancestor Joseph, who said to his brothers that sold him into slavery, "What you meant for harm God turned to the good." Please visit their website at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org and consider donating to this very worthy cause.
Walking through the classrooms of the Israel Children's Fund Center we delighted to hear little boys singing the verses of Torah as they learned the Scriptures through music. I hope to send you the little video of this when I get back home! We saw the pens full of animals and horses, used as healing therapy for the children, and visited the small room with the gentle sounds of music and moving water, and big, cuddly stuffed animals to hold onto, for those whose trauma is too intense to learn yet. The Father used this experience to begin to help us understand just how deep the pain of these people really is, and to write it on our prayer-hearts.
David then took us into the excavations being done in the area of the Tabernacle, and we were so amazed to climb down a very steep, slippery slope into a cave below where he believes Eli and his family lived! He showed us the two "rooms" adjacent to where we were standing, and then as we climbed back up, we could see the upper level where the family would also have dwelt. Moving on over to the holy ground of the Tabernacle site, David offered us a time to pray there. Spontaneously all six of us turned toward Jerusalem and sang the Sh'ma in Hebrew. There was an expression of awe and surprise on his face! Then he lowered his voice and confessed to us, "I have been trying to tell my people about you. Some of you wear tzit tzits, some don't; some of you wear kippas, some don't. You know our dances and our songs, you study our Torah. They wonder, 'who are these people?' But I know who you are...and I am so glad you are here!"
My spirit has been overwhelmed with these confessions from Judah, welcoming Ephraim! I have been so discouraged in the past two years because I have increasingly wondered why I've been studying Torah, why I've been learning to sing in Hebrew, why I've been praying under a tallit and why my heart and spirit have been SO deeply connected to the Jewish people and the true roots of my faith! Finally the Father is showing me in earnest what this walk has been all about! The people we have met are talking about HaYovel, and the Wallers' ministry of harvesting and pruning the vines in Samaria. They are speaking to one another about their amazement that "foreigners would come help us harvest the crops!" It is prophecy being fulfilled. It is the SET TIME. "Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner be your ploughmen and your vinedressers." Because of this prophecy, they are finally understanding who we are! Nevertheless, they still stand in awe that anyone would come to help them build their homes and harvest their crops, and bless them with finances, and just give them LOVE.
At last I have my boots on the ground in Israel, in the homes of the people, sharing Messiah without using words! Using only love. Love is the fulfillment of the Torah (Romans 13:9-10).
After our time in Shiloh we moved on to the wonderful community of Itamar, at the top of the hills of Samaria. We spent an incredible time of great blessing in the home of a local Rabbi and his wife. She showed us the view from her back window of Mt. Gerazim (mountain of blessing) and Mt. Ebal (mountain of cursing). "Each day," she said, "we look out the window and are reminded that we can make a choice today!" We drove around their community slogging through the huge puddles and slimy mud (it has rained for days here in Israel, praise Yah!) We marveled at the beautiful, immense new synagogue they are just finishing and delighted in the fresh yogurt and cheese at the goat farm. This young couple moved to Israel from New York many years ago and persevered against great odds to plant and to build. They raised their children here, and now have a grandson running and giggling through their home!
The Rabbi was excited to take us deep down into an ancient wine cellar and after being caked with mud from foot to toe as we made our way down, we got to the warm, dry, circular room at the bottom and found a large djembe drum down there. James began to play a wildly Middle-Eastern rhythm and spontaneously JOY broke out in that old underground cellar and we grabbed hands and began dancing mayim steps in a circle, whooping and rejoicing! Restoration! Judah and Ephraim! One in the Father's hand!
Then we returned to their home to enjoy hot tea, refraining from food since yesterday was the Esther Fast; and we all talked together about the Restoration we see happening in front of our eyes. They are an Orthodox Jewish family -- but they welcomed us into their home and shared with us the pieces of their journey. And they told us, "you came here on Highway 60 because that is the highway you are walking on - Isaiah 60!"
I am humbled beyond words, my friends. So all these years of visiting Israel, walking the walls of Jerusalem and praying over the people, learning the deep truths of the Torah and immersing myself into the ways of the Hebrew people were the Father's training ground for this set time! The Hebrew wedding that John and I had under the chuppa was truly a foreshadow of all that is to come. We are bringing these Israeli people a message, that "instead of their shame and reproach, they shall rejoice a second time in their portion." One day soon, together we shall "take possession a second time in the Land, and everlasting joy will be ours!"
Kelly Ferrari Mills