by Ephraim and Rimona Frank
Used by permission.
By now every one of you is no doubt quite aware of the most grievous and tragic events that have transpired here in Israel, and of the long way that is still ahead of us in order to “right the wrong” in some measure. The following is not an attempt to cover these events – but only to point to the sovereignty of the Almighty and to the precise nature of His Word through a ‘scriptural journey’ that He has taken me since Yom Teruah until now.
At times we may barely notice a chain of occurrences that come our way until life circumstances provide us with a retrospective understanding, which makes ‘all the difference in the world’. Looking back, such was my daily reading during the recent High Holy Days, which includes consecutive chapter readings taught by a certain rabbi, who sends daily audio recordings. These readings are not attached to the year’s seasons, yet on Yom Teruah the chapter read dealt with that particular feast, on the Eve of Yom Kippurim I was surprised to find out that where we had gotten in our reading, was exactly the chapter that speaks about this topic. On one of the days of Succot, lo and behold, the daily reading had to do with this feast. Another scripture that became very meaningful to me last week was Psalm 16, especially verse 6: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me”. The “lines” are “chavalim”, literally ropes that in ancient times were used to mark out territories or boundaries. However, that word also means “troubles, tribulations, birth pangs”, etc. Thus, I was shown that my YHVH-allotted ‘territory’ of circumstances may have some pangs or difficulties but they are not without their ‘pleasantness’, eventually leading to a “beautiful heritage” or “inheritance”.
Last week at our weekly praise and prayer meeting, one of the participants drew our attention to David’s lament over Saul and Yonatan, in 2nd Samuel chapter 1. One of those verses kept showing up on the cell phone, and from the Bluetooth onto the receiver in the car, day in and day out: “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” (v. 27).
On Friday, we made our way to the Upper Galilee, by the Lebanese border, for our grandson’s fourth birthday. Beforehand, we went to pay condolences to a young widow, the mother of three young children, who is one of the few believers on this kibbutz, where our daughter and family reside. The atmosphere switched in an instant, in the succah where the delightful birthday party took place. During a conversation with my in-law, who is a typical leftist atheist, about the deep social discord in our society, she remarked that in the absence of a ‘responsible adult’ at the helm of the country the only rescue from this situation, will be a crisis, and furthermore, something no less than a catastrophe. Her words went right into my heart, and I knew, and even told her so, that what she was saying was like a prophecy of biblical scope. I agreed with her, and added, “We are drawing fire to ourselves, this is inevitable”.
As you can imagine, the next morning (Shabbat, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah), shortly after 6 A.M. I received a message from my in-law, “Last night we spoke about the catastrophe that will rescue us from our situation, perhaps it is now…” From then on, the world turned upside down. On the 50th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur-October War we were thrust into a situation that we never foresaw or expected, and in some way was also a repeat of the 1973 war. One of the central places where a great carnage took place was at a “trance party” where 3 thousand young people (quite a few scantily dressed) were not only dancing, drinking, etc. but were doing so with a huge image of a Budha right in the midst of their prancing. As much as the hearts are broken for the loss of so many young lives or the abduction and abuse of others, it is hard not to make some kind of connection… On the other hand, others have been subject to the same atrocities, but gave up their lives for others, “indeed how the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”. So many have been paraded by their cruel and brutal captors down the streets of Gaza, making verse 20 of 2nd Samuel chapter 1 (referred to above) eerily relevant: “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon — Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph”.
Looking back at my week, every Word of Yah was declared in His perfect timing, and that brought so much trust and confidence in His total sovereignty, knowing that this is the overall “given” and unchangeable fact. I couldn’t help but think, “The lines/boundaries of suffering have fallen to us” in spite of everything “in pleasant places,” which will lead to the “beautiful inheritance” that YHVH has for us. Additionally, you will not be surprised to know that although I haven’t read the rabbi’s recordings for several days, due to the circumstances, when I caught up with it, the first was the Leviticus chapter dealing with the blessings and the curses.
The next couple of days were no different. It started with the reading about the mustering of Israel’s army in the wilderness (Numbers chapter 2), and then Amos’ comparison of Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah, both in conduct and in the results of their action, ending it with “Prepare to meet your Elohim, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12). Psalm 11 describes the situation from a different and yet very appropriate angle: “In YHVH I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain’? For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” This is quite an apt description of conditions here in the land, especially the highlighted words.
“YHVH is in His holy temple, YHVH’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. YHVH tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For YHVH is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the “upright”.
The description in Daniel Chapter 7 of the fourth and most dreadful beast with its devouring power, and of one of its horns that was seen making war against the saints, prevailing against them, came next, to be concluded by both Mark 3:24-25 and Luke 11:17, the two of which (random reading, again) warn against a house divided against itself (again, so appropriate for the state of the nation). And finally, is the very sad statement of Amos, regarding Israel’s idols (5:26), a visual expression of which was, as mentioned above, the large image that was displayed at the psychedelic trance party that `was a flagrant display of the lust of the flesh and which ended in the most tragic manner.