Ephraim and Rimona Frank
Used by permission.
It is not unusual to be talking about the weather these days. Here in Israel, the month of June is normally devoid of rain and temperatures can vary from hot to warm in just a few hours. For our 41st wedding anniversary, we decided to go to Eilat, which in the week before experienced sudden floods and this week a tremendous sandstorm (all of which we were spared from), and do some snorkeling in the Reeds Sea. It is an activity that we both enjoy very much, as it takes us back, so to speak, to the 5th day of creation, where and when one can experience what the scriptures meant by, “and Elohim saw that is was good” (Genesis 1:21). Under the water the utter silence is quite remarkable. This quietness reminded me of the meaning of Yeshua’s words, “Peace be still”. While your ears relish the lack of clamor, your eyes soon open to feast on the multitude of colors that are moving gracefully in front or below you, welcoming you into their world. There seems to be an absence of fear in these sea creatures while they swim and move around you. Even the rocks and the corrals illuminate the colors of the glory of YHVH’s throne room. Thankfully we didn’t run into any sea monsters; ) except for a few black creatures about our size with strange-looking humps on their backs.
Another experience that we had a couple of days ago, this time ‘in the 6th day of creation’, was almost as dynamic as the underwater one. What we witnessed was a scene that exemplified the two sticks of Ephraim and Judah being drawn closer to each other. This took place during the 60th-anniversary celebration of a very prosperous German-Canadian Christian kibbutz (Beth El). We attended one of the four celebration evenings, one in which 400 of the kibbutz’s 800 Jewish Israeli employees were present. The outdoor venue (their school’s play yard with an adjacent lawn) was beautifully decorated, booths of elegantly displayed food and drinks flanked the area and after milling around for some time, the program began, with many words of thanks to a variety of figures, groups, and towns for being helpful and welcoming to these “German non-Jews”, but gratitude was mainly directed to the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Although, truth be told, at first the community struggled greatly to be accepted here, but that part was not mentioned). The words of ‘this’ Elohim continued to accompany the ceremony by being projected on a large screen, being sung by the children and kibbutz members, and spoken in a long message (all in Hebrew) that was delivered by the CEO and head elder of the kibbutz community. When sharing chronologically on the development in the course of their 60 years in the land, the elder chose the theme that accompanied the Forefathers’ journey in the land, particularly focusing on how they had to “lift up” their eyes to keep seeing their awaiting promises. In the same manner, each further development and expansion of the Bet El community began with “lifting up” the eyes further, into the vision, and then taking the first steps toward it by faith.
We were amazed and blessed by this analogy and comparison to the Forefathers of Israel, as by and large the members of the community see themselves as “foreigners” and “gentiles” who have come to bless us – Israel. At this point, I could not help but see how the blessings and prosperity enjoyed by them, the gift that they are to the land and its people, and also all the benefits of YHVH’s goodness that have been showered already on this nation, are akin to the parable of the prodigal son, whose older brother, although unhappy at his return, yet is reminded by the father that nothing has been withheld from him. But as to the younger brother, “he was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:24). Most certainly, if it were not for “life from the dead”, this “Christian” – kibbutz community would not have been able to achieve what it has. More importantly, it could not have made such inroads of blessings penetrating almost every layer of Israeli society, for which it has gained recognition, appreciation, and love.
Thus, if we “lift up our eyes” we will be able to look and see further, at what neither one of the above-mentioned groups has yet been able to envision, and that is how the Father is reassuring His older son of His love, endeavoring to put confidence in his heart, and at the same time how He is in the process of welcoming back His prodigal, putting on him the “best robe… a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet”, killing “the fattened calf”, and commanding all to “eat and be merry” (Luke 15:22-23).
What we were able to observe, that is Ephraim and Judah’s relationship as they are working daily side by side, even in the present conditions, is only a foretaste of what our Elohim’s faithfulness will accomplish when He takes the two sticks from the prophet’s hand, making them ONE in His hand and in His land.