by: Rebecca Brimmer, Editor in Chief
I am one of Jerusalem’s approximately 800,000 inhabitants, which include Jews, Arabs, Christians and internationals from around the world. My husband and I live in an apartment in the center of Jerusalem, adjacent to Bridges for Peace headquarters. We are right in the center of the action in both a positive and negative way. Frequently, we walk downtown to sit in a sidewalk café and enjoy a coffee or a gelato! We enjoy the ambiance of this special city as we rub shoulders with Jewish people, including many new immigrants, tourists from around the world and Arabic-speaking people.
I am convinced that Jerusalem is totally unique because it is the place that God chose. Ancient maps show it to be the center of the world. That has not changed; the eyes of the world are on this small piece of real estate bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is the recipient of blessing, as Christians pray regularly for her peace and as tourists come from around the world to walk in the Land of the Bible. But, it is also the recipient of cursing as those opposed to God’s plans for the Jewish people fight to destroy the nation of Israel.
Recently Jerusalem has experienced a number of terror attacks as part of an Islamic intifada (in Arabic meaning to shake off). Innocent people going about their everyday lives, including rabbis at prayer in a synagogue, a baby, and those waiting for public transportation have been killed. Many are afraid and angry.
People are always asking me if I am afraid to live here. I can truthfully say that God has put a peace in my heart that is beyond understanding. Certainly terror attacks are frightening, but at the same time, Jerusalem is also statistically much safer than most cities around the world. In 2013 we had only two murders. Compare that to 415 in Chicago! Children ride alone on city buses to go to school, and everyone watches out for them. We certainly don’t hear about crimes against children like in other parts of the world. Tourists are not targeted; in fact many are amazed at how peaceful they feel in Israel.
But, certainly no one would say Jerusalem is a peaceful city today.
Many say the name “Jerusalem” is Eir Shalom (city of peace). Others say it is Eir Shilem (complete city). It is the dearest wish of the Jewish people that there would be peace in Jerusalem and in Israel. Often we say peace will only come when the Messiah comes. The Hebrew phrase, Ad sh’yavo Moshiach (until the coming of the Messiah), is a common one in Israel. The city has seen much conflict throughout history and also in recent times; and, at times, it seems that peace is a distant dream.
But there is a peace that descends on the city every week that I have come to cherish. Each Friday afternoon, the city begins to quiet down as the citizens prepare to welcome the Shabbat (Sabbath). The smell of chicken soup fills the air; in fact, you can’t walk down a single street in a Jewish neighborhood without smelling chicken soup. Everyone dresses in nice clothes. Fathers bring flowers home to their wives. Traffic slows to a near standstill as people hurry home to be with their families before sundown.
The tables are set beautifully, and families join together to share a leisurely time over the Shabbat meal. The Scriptures are discussed, and beautiful songs are sung. Husbands bless their wives by reading Proverbs 31 to them. Parents bless their children. When I travel outside of Israel, the thing I miss most is Shabbat and the blessing of a day set aside from our busy lives to be with our families and the Lord.
In the past few years relationships between Christians and the Jewish people have improved, as many have recognized that Bible-believing Christians are their friends, maybe their only friends. Through the good work of many Christians in Israel and around the world, and that of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, we are seeing a shift in attitude. The Caucus was formed in January of 2004 when Knesset Member Yuri Shtern, along with 12 other Knesset members, joined together to recognize Christian support for Israel in an official capacity within the Knesset (Parliament) of Israel. It was the first time an official government body was created to reach out to Christians and forge relationships based on mutual respect and appreciation.
In many conversations with Jewish people there is an affirmation that when the Messiah comes, we will all follow Him (both Christians and Jews). Teddy Kollek, longtime mayor of Jerusalem, was once asked if he believed that Yeshua was the Messiah. He was always the consummate politician and obviously didn’t want to offend the inquirers. So he answered by saying that he had a good idea. When the Messiah comes, a committee should be formed including both Christians and Jews. The committee should seek an appointment with the Messiah and prepare questions to ask Him. Teddy suggested that the first question should be, “Sir, have you ever been here before?”
Until the time that Messiah reigns from Jerusalem, I encourage you to bless and not curse and to daily pray for the peace and wholeness of Jerusalem.
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