This morning Abba Father served to us the best wine last, just as the bridegroom in John 2:10 did. We found a wild grapevine outside a garden that made for some beautiful illustrations and pictures that serve to implant the Text deep into our hearts never to fade away! There was only one bunch of grapes on it, and it was buried beneath its leaves, deep in the heart of the plant. The rabbi caught a glimpse of it, and searched it out. What a beautiful picture this illustrates about the Heart of our Heavenly Father! In the garden, there was a winepress with a watchtower close by! (We did not talk much about the tower, but there are quite a few places the Text talks about towers in a vineyard.) What a treasure! When our Father gives us gifts, they are perfect and in perfect timing! This dessert meal of faith was served from the Living Word in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, … Have you ever studied the Greek word for ‘takes away’ ? If you have not, get out your concordance! It is illustrated well by these 2 pictures: Joe teaches us about the soil, saying, “The rocks are cenomanian limestones that will dissolve and become fertilizer for the soil.” One of his disciples, standing nearby, had an amazing thought that left us all speechless for a moment: Do we try to remove the rocks in our life that are meant to be an ongoing fertilizer to the soil of our hearts and lives?
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and… Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil (the wall), …Other seeds fell among thorns,…Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” The Parable of the sower was well-illustrated here: Viewing the garden below us, with its majestic fig trees, and beautiful vines, we could see with our ears the picture of Micah 4:4: It shall come to pass in the latter days … they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. And as we traveled on our way to our next destination, the well-kept ‘gahns’ along the hillsides, made its fruition quite obvious. Jeremiah 31:10-12… ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock.’ For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the LORD- for wheat, and new wine, and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden; and they shall sorrow no more at all. Are we like a well-watered garden? Joe sums up the experience here by saying, “God’s Word is so powerful, and when you bring it in its setting, it just multiplies the images in your mind, and the understanding of your heart.”
We are surrounded by men after God’s own heart. You guessed it- Davids. Say the last name of David Kurtz in German, and it is the name of the Baker we are about to visit.We enjoyed some hands-on experience in the Bakery in Efrat, as David Katz taught us much about bread. He told the story that is behind the term ‘the baker’s dozen’ , and the principle of honesty it alludes to. Each one of the little buns he plans to make with this dough are to be 60 grams, but it is up to the baker whether he will be truthful. No one but the baker will ever know if he made it less, but teaches that only when it goes over quite a bit, should he ‘put it back into his own pocket’. He teaches the history of bread, and why there are so many gluten-intolerant people. It takes 7 days for water, flour, and salt to become leaven. The amounts can vary, causing each sour dough ‘mother’ to be different from another. But the strain in his bakery here can be taken across the world to America, and its culture will always match the original lump it was taken from, for as long as it is kept alive. Sour dough bread is easier to digest because the wheat is broken down more. It must be mixed and let set for 6+ hours. Why are we willing to forfeit our health for making bread quickly when we reap long-lasting results that can affect a lifetime? How do we use the leaven of the Word in a similar way? A beautiful inspiration emerges from the making of the bread as he teaches about the process. . . The Master Baker knows just which recipe to use, and with His Hands, He forms us into the type of Bread He wants us to be. When we have the leaven of the Bread of Life within us, we become Living Bread that is easily digested by those around us. We enjoyed seeing the faces of these soldiers light up with joy as we shared with them the bread we had made. The only way they could accept it, was if it had the Baker’s logo on it. Hmm… what does that make you think of? The next place on the itinerary was Yad Vashem. It was interesting to all of us to have in our midst, Marcella, a descendant of a Gentile who saved the life a Jew during the Holocaust, by hiding a Jewish man for 5 years. Her family, along with Corrie ten Boom, has a plaque in the Garden of Righteous Gentiles here at Yad Vashem. Sadly, time did not allow us to see it. Marcella has received benefit from this, being granted a special privilege permit to work there, and is now even granted emigration. If you are not a Jew, it is next to impossible to move there permanently. One felt emotionally touched after walking through the main museum, and if you weren’t crying already, by the time we had walked through the Children’s Museum, there was not a dry eye in our midst. The Scriptures above, and the impression when one came out of the dark tunnel of the museum to view the beautiful hills of promise, is astounding!! You will be blessed if you take time to read the Scriptures written below this picture that are so prophetically being fulfilled. If you will look at the underlined part, you will see that we were a part of that prophecy this year! It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. Micah 4:1-7.
And then Moshe from Shorishim Shop blesses us by closing shop, and taking time to talk to us, and allowing us to ask any question we like, stretching our minds to the max about how a Jew thinks, and how they view the Christians. It is astounding to hear that they wonder why we worship salvation more than we worship the Creator?!! As we travel on the way to our final destination on the last day, we experience more Middle-Eastern hospitality when juice and bars are served to us by a shopkeeper in the middle of a store. Here in the supposed ‘Garden Tomb’ we Christians are back in our comfort zone, but…. …after the last short shopping excursion to the Old City, ….…and a late night meeting with Jewish youth on the streets who, with exactly the same Scriptures we heard from David the baker, Moshe the shopkeeper, and Joe, expound on the questions our youth ask, we realize the quotes that flash across the screen in front of us on the plane as we wait at Tel Aviv to fly home, are very true: ‘A mind that is stretched to new dimensions, can never return to its old shape.’ The messages God has placed in our hearts will forever change us. Please continue to pray for us as we process these thoughts, and live out these messages. As we think back to the beginning of our trip, we know the other quote that flashed across the screen- a Chinese Proverb, is also quite relevant: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step! During these two weeks, we have made many steps in our journey of a thousand miles.