Off the Eastern Coast of the USA
Sunday Morning, November 15
1:00 a.m., Local Time
The twin-engines of the sleek, white, Avocet Projet whistled a steady note, telling Ty they’d once again achieved cruising altitude. They were now over the Atlantic Ocean after having landed to refuel at John F. Kennedy International in New York City. There next stop would be Paris, then on to Haifa. He and his wife were the only passengers on the jet, and she was sleeping in total contentment with her head resting sweetly on his lap.
It had been a whale of a day, starting very early. It wasn’t over yet, at least as far as the working of his mind was concerned. The ceremony held in the rustic setting of a large striped tent had been absolutely wonderful; chilly, but wonderful. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined he’d be married at the front of a makeshift church, let alone during the waning days of a Missouri November. That no wedding night would be experienced until their arrival in Israel made no difference to him. The woman next to him made everything about the day, and the trip, perfect. He knew Blake felt the same about him.
For the last two days, Ty had wrestled with his understanding of the will of God. Though the thought of beginning their marriage in the Holy Land was new and exciting, reality said they were heading toward great danger. Not only had Haifa been nuked, all the evidence pointed to the fact that the hordes mentioned in Ezekiel thirty-eight were converging on Israel. By the time they touched down in Haifa, the leading formations of the Russian Coalition would be in place along Israel’s inland borders, from Lebanon to the Negev.
Ty had no clue how long those armies would delay in attacking Israel. Maybe the actual hook of Ezekiel had not yet been set. Perhaps there was still some time remaining before God got royally ticked and let loose his fury.
Before they’d departed from Kansas City International, news reports indicated that the Libyans were arriving at the ports of Lebanon and the Iranians were crossing the Syrian borders and turning south toward Jordan. The Jordanians had protested, but their small forces would never serve as a deterrent. The presence of the radical President of Iran, Tariq Kazimi, would only drive the jihadist elements in Jordan to join in the parade against the hated Jews. There would be no option for Jordan but to join with Iran.
Ty reached for his Bible and opened its pages to the thirty-ninth chapter of Ezekiel. “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. And I will turn you about and drive you forward, and bring you up from the uttermost parts of the north, and lead you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and make your arrows drop out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the people who are with you.”
He read the passage over and over, trying to discern some clue that might reveal the timing of the event. Many times through the years the Arabs had formed coalitions to attack Israel. Each time, the enemy had been defeated, pushed back, and subdued. Was the current crises just another in a long string of actions? Or was it the final attack of Ishmael against Isaac? The two sons of Abraham had been at odds for five thousand years, ever since their separation as brothers. But the Word of God was clear. A final war would come between the two, and God would put an end to the long enmity with an unprecedented judgment against Ishmael and his sons. Israel would be miraculously saved, and the whole world would know who achieved the victory.
Ty shook himself. He could only hope their service in Haifa would be ended by the time God’s judgment was meted out. What part he was to play, beyond stepping in for Pastor Ben Sherett to care for the people of Celebration Center, escaped him. But one thing was certain, he had a deep conviction that he and Blake were doing the right thing and that God would be honored in however they were used.
He sat the Bible aside and readjusted himself on the seat without disturbing his bride. For now, it was enough to know that he would never be alone. That contentment sent him into a refreshing sleep.
Sunday, 10:00 a.m., Local Time
Moshe couldn’t wait for the music to start. His level of anticipation and done a complete turn around since his first visit to Celebration Center three weeks earlier. On that day, he’d attended only out of surrender to Tasha’s spiritual enthusiasm, not really wanting to be counted as part of a group of religious fanatics. But three trying weeks of tragedy and combat had brought him to the realization of the only truth that mattered. Things had changed, not with the church of Messianic believers, but within the confines of his soul. Now, the pre-worship fellowship was as sweet as the cream-covered bagel he’d just finished. He now had a family with whom to spiritually connect to for the first time in his life.
The thumping rhythm of a conga drum brought a quick end to conversation as everyone stood to their feet. A tambourine joined in with the beat, then a guitar and keyboard, and before Moshe could resist the urge, his hands shot into the air. Praise bubbled forth from his heart, though he had no idea what words might be appropriate. All that mattered was that something inside his soul was now wide open and ready for the presence of Yeshua.
He glanced at Tasha standing by his side. A smile outlined every aspect of her beautiful face, from the corners of her mouth to the tightly closed lids of her eyes. The song flowed sweetly from her lips, no effort, no hesitation, and hearing it deepened his happiness. His spiritual vision was now open, simply because he’d become a part of what she’d experienced with the savior. He was now fully alive, and the electricity of spiritual life seemed to quicken every molecule inside his body. Though it was all totally new, he couldn’t help but feel completely at ease.
For nearly an hour the worship pulsated within the hotel conference room, the meeting place of Celebration Church. The space was packed with longtime members as well as new faces who had received ministry help in the aftermath of Haifa’s nuclear tragedy. As the final notes of praise sounded from the instruments, Moshe scanned the group and witnessed something he would have never dreamed possible. Jews were worshipping with Arabs. In this room there were no divisions between Israeli and Palestinian. They were of the same blood, the blood of Yeshua that had been shed for them all.
The congregation finally sat down and a special speaker slipped to the front with a Bible in hand. The time had come to hear the Word. Tasha snuggled close to Moshe. As he draped his arm around her shoulders she stretched upward to whisper something in his ear.
“His name is Kareem. He is a Palestinian believer that has visited from time to time.”
Moshe nodded, amazed that the old feelings of hatred toward his enemy were no longer present. He listened intently as Kareem began to speak.
“My friends in Jesu, I stand humbly before you with great joy in my heart,” he said, with his eyes inclined to his Bible in true humility. “That you have always welcomed me to share has blessed me beyond measure. That you listen and take to heart the Word of God, whether spoken by your amazing Pastor Ben, or by a stray Palestinian, is nothing short of miraculous. This is especially true after having experienced such horror at the hands of my kindred.”
Tears eased from Kareem’s eyes as a deep sorrow for the actions of his fellow sons of Ishmael spilled from his heart. Moshe watched as a young Israeli man left his seat and approached Kareem with genuine affection. The two embraced as only brothers could do. A lump formed in the back of Moshe’s throat as his body fought an urge to cry.
When Kareem had gathered himself, he opened his Bible and cleared his throat to share. “I do not pretend to be the preacher you have become accustomed to, but I do have a choice prophetic word to share from the scriptures. Please open to a portion in the Old Testament book of Zechariah, chapter nine and verse five.”
The sound of turning pages filled the room. Tasha slid her Bible onto Moshe’s knee and placed her finger beside the appropriate paragraph. They read the text together.
“Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited; a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia. I will take away its blood from its mouth and its abominations from between its teeth; it too shall be a remnant for our God; it shall be like a clan of Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites. Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again march over them, for now I see with my own eyes.”
Every city the passage cited was well known to Moshe. They were the seat of the Palestinian population on along the coast of the Israel. All but Ashkelon had been recently divided to form part of a Palestinian state. Since the nuclear attack on Haifa, both the West Bank and Gaza had been in a state of upheaval. Infighting for political control between Hamas and Fatah was only exacerbated by a new incursion by Israeli Defense Forces.
Kareem lifted his head to address the crowd. “Though I am deeply troubled by the events taking place among my people, I have been convinced that Jehovah-God has a master plan that is soon to come to fruition. The Lord has opened my eyes to the wonderful depth of his mercy, a depth that will overwhelm the Palestinian people and bring them to the throne of Yeshua.”
“As you know, the Palestinians are a people formed from many different roots. We have Arab blood flowing through our veins, but we also have the blood of Moab, Syria, and Babylon intermingled with it. We are a mixed race, unlike those who claim to be true sons of Ishmael.
“Although many have attached to my people the label of the Philistines, it is only at heart that the Palestinians bear any resemblance to the ancient foe of the Israelites. Even though we are not of the race of Philistia, the cold hatred we hold against the Jews has its roots in the same spiritual darkness. The source of that darkness is pure evil.” Kareem lowered his head to collect his next thoughts. His hands shook as they held the Bible in place upon the podium.
“To claim we are an oppressed people, or to claim racial discrimination, can only be justified by closing our eyes to our own acts of violence. As with every nation that refuses to obey the precepts of God, the seeds that are sown will return with a harvest of violence and death. That can be said of both Palestine and Israel. The nations cannot separate themselves by claiming superior justification in bringing harm to the other. Both are without God, and that has led us all to these troubled times.
“However, just as Jehovah has featured Israel in his great, end-time equation, so he has remembered the mixed people of Palestine.”
Moshe’s eyes widened as he reread the passage. He was holding his breath, though he didn’t realize it. He hadn’t entered his mind that God actually had a plan for the Palestinians, but there it was, written in black and white. Was there no end to the mysteries of Bible prophecy? He no longer questioned its validity, but the massive scope of current events and how it was pre-ordained was blowing his mind.
“Friends, I speak to you this morning from the abundance of joy in my heart. Although Palestine is in shambles and appears to be crumbling, God is stirring the hearts of individuals across its length and breadth. He is calling them to rethink the claims of Islam, and they are seeing the emptiness of its deceptions. Many are coming to the feet of Yeshua, who we call Jesu. This will only continue. As the great calamitous events prophesied in the Book of Ezekiel come true, we will begin to see a great turning to Messiah. It will be so complete, so powerful, so impacting, that God says he will embrace the Palestinian people as if they were a clan of Judah.”
Now, as Moshe focused on Kareem and listened to his words, his mouth was opened as wide as his eyes.
Jimmy Root Jr
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