Friday, November 20
Moshe was shocked but grateful for the embrace he received from Ty Dempsey. The American obviously counted him a dear friend even though they had only had two opportunities to get acquainted. Moshe knew, from Tasha’s story, that Ty and his wife had prayed earnestly for his protection for most of the night as he was in battle, but he hadn’t realized those prayers would provide a deep bonding between them. He was glad. So far, his only friends had come from the small pool of pilots; that is until he connected with Pastor Ben. Moshe was glad to have another mentor to walk him spiritually through the days ahead, whatever they held.
The day had been long for all of them. Ingrid had chauffeured Ty and Blake all around the unaffected parts of Haifa, gathering small groups of Celebration Center’s adherents everywhere she stopped. In each place, Ty was introduced and given the opportunity to encourage the believers. The Dempsey’s were welcomed with open arms as if they were long lost members of the family, but it was his passion-filled prayers that connected him with the suffering Israelis. This included both Jews and Arabs.
Ty had spent little time putting together his words. In fact, he was astonished at the scriptures that came to his mind as he shared. The flow of the Holy Spirit was undeniable. All Ty had done was to recount what had taken place in Kansas City, how people had flocked to hear a gospel of hope. He shared how the hurting had sought out the truth, and upon hearing it, they received the love that was being offered. He then shared how the same outreach could happen in Israel.
Now, the five friends were together again, and since Moshe was injured, they would stay together for the foreseeable future. Two hours were spent comparing stories, but it was the constant return to fulfilled Bible prophecies that that kept them all on the edge of their seats.
“The stunning part is when God said ‘And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to my wrath, and they shall know my vengeance, declares the Lord God.’” Ty referenced the passage in Ezekiel 25:14. “But look at the difference between that and verses sixteen and seventeen.”
Moshe was enthralled. “This says Jehovah would stretch out his hand against the Philistines on the coast and they would know he is the Lord.”
“No,” corrected Ty, “God says they will know that I am the Lord. I think he is indicating that the surviving Palestinians would come to the understanding of exactly who Jehovah is, and that they would know him intimately. Yeshua is the great, I Am of scripture.”
“You mean as Yeshua hamashiach?” Blake asked.
“I didn’t realize you knew any Hebrew,” Moshe laughed. “And you said it without a Yankee accent.” A feeling of joy permeated the room, providing deep spiritual rest to all of them.
Ty loved what was happening. He loved teaching the scripture, even as he continued to discover aspects he’d never seen before.
“Do you know what this speaks to me?” Ingrid asked. “I think it means we’re going to see people turn to Yehsua in huge numbers.”
“I think you are right, Ingrid,” Ty agreed. “In all likelihood, we’re going to be swamped with work.”
“Swamped,” Moshe looked at Ty, “what does that mean?”
“I’m sorry. It’s an American idiom that says we are about to be overwhelmed.”
“Ah. Better it is to be overwhelmed with people finding Yeshua than to be fighting for our lives,” Moshe exclaimed.
The statement was met with silence as each person glanced at the others.
“What?” Moshe asked in confusion.
“You forget that this was the first of two battles,” said Ty.
Just then, the cell phone in Ty’s shirt pocket sounded its tone. The call took him totally by surprise. He hadn’t used his phone since he arrived in Israel.
He flipped open the cover and answered. “Ty Dempsey here.”
“Pastor Ty,” said the voice, “its Josh.”
“Oh man, Josh, it’s good to hear your voice.” Ty had wondered several times how things were going back in Plattsville, how his deacons were faring in his absence.
“Wow! With what we’ve been seeing on the news, we were afraid you were a piece of glowing radiation. It’s great to hear your voice,” Josh exclaimed. “Blake’s all right too?”
“Yes, we’re fine. How are things with you and the guys?”
There was a pause on the line making Ty think things weren’t so good in Missouri.
“Well,” Josh continued, “things are getting bad.”
“I gotta tell ya, society is falling apart. People are turning crazy just trying to survive, especially in the cities. There’s hardly any food, and absolutely no civil services. Trash is piling up, and the only aide getting to the people is coming basically from local churches.”
“What about the government?”
“What government? Martial Law has been imposed to try to keep control, but all that has done is to free up the thugs.”
“Isn’t the National Guard deployed?”
“Yes, but they are experiencing mass desertions,” Josh explained. “It appears our citizen soldiers are more concerned with protecting their individual families than they are the country. Stands to reason if you ask me, but that’s not the crazy part.”
“The president is incognito. He’s nowhere to be seen. Rumors are flying that he may have skipped the country.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!” Ty was astonished. If America needed anything, she needed a calm, cool, and collected president to offer guidance. Ty glanced at Blake saw a look of deep concern. He knew exactly what she wanted him to ask.
“Hey Josh,” Ty asked. “How are Blake’s parents? She’s worried about them.”
“They’re okay. In fact, they’re about the best help we could’ve asked for here at the church. Tell her not to worry, her dad is packin’ heat. I taught him how to shoot your gun.” Josh was referring the handgun he’d placed in Ty’s hand to assist in his rescue of Blake’s mom and dad. “He is even doing some of the preaching.”
“Is that right? Blake’s going to love that,” Ty grinned as he thought of Blake’s father thumping on a Bible and sharing the Word. The man was small in stature, but obviously huge in heart. He covered the phone and shared with Blake what Josh had reported. The weight lifted off her shoulders and left a smile on her face.
“By the way, how is the church doing?” asked Ty.
“Better you should use the word churches,” Josh replied. “So many townspeople have found Christ we couldn’t figure out what to do with them. You wouldn’t believe it, but I’d estimate we have over a thousand people meeting in homes.”
“I’ll say! Not only that, Faith Community Church has been converted into a refugee facility. Every part of the building is now being used for processing, feeding, or providing medical help to stranded folks. FEMA has set up a tent city over on Jack Halford’s property, and there are a couple thousand people spread out across the acreage.”
A twinge of disgust rose in Ty’s throat at the mention of the name of the man who killed his mother. He thought he’d worked his way through the bitterness and had to silently rebuke what he knew was a wrong attitude.
“How is Jack, or have you heard?” Ty forced himself to inquire.
“That’s another thing you won’t believe,” Josh exclaimed. “Jack requested that the deacon board come visit him in the jail. I’ll tell you, we didn’t buy it at first, but the man has genuinely repented. Marty has been going over to the see him every couple of days for a Bible study. The man has rounded up over a dozen inmates to join in. He’s turning into a regular evangelist.”
“How did that happen?” Ty felt confused.
“Your visit is what happened. Remember, you went over and offered Jack your forgiveness before you flew off to Israel. It totally changed him!”
Ty had witnessed plenty of miracles of late, but this development was major. “Look Josh,” Ty had to choose his words carefully. “Tell Jack I’m glad God is blessing him.”
Josh paused knowing it must be a struggle for his pastor to offer his gratitude in that way. Once again, a spirit of forgiveness had trumped any justification for bitterness. “I will, Pastor. Hey, I’ve got to go. I just had to know that you were all right. Give Blake all our love. You can even kiss her for me.”
Ty laughed heartily. “Look, buddy, I’ll kiss her for me, not you! Greet the fellas for me. And listen, I have no idea when I’m going to be able to come home. You’re going to have to hold the fort.”
“Hold the fort? We’re taking territory, not holding the fort. Anyway, don’t worry about us. It would be impossible for you to get back now anyway, at least until things settle down.”
“Josh,” said Ty, “things are not going to settle down.”
“I think we realize that. You just do what God wants you to do, however long it takes. And keep your head down!”
“We’ll do, Josh. It’s great to hear from you.”
“Ditto! I’ll call you when I can,” Josh said. The call ended.
Ty shut the cover and slid the phone into his pocket.
Blake had her eyes locked onto him and her eyebrows raised. “Well?”
Ty slouched into the couch and took a deep breath. “Sweetie, I don’t think we’ll be heading home anytime soon.”
“That bad, is it?”
“I’m afraid so, but hey, I think we’ll have plenty to do here for a while,” he touched her hand.
“And you have friends to help you do it,” Moshe spoke up. Tasha and Ingrid quickly agreed.
The evening was spent sketching a plan to not only care for the members of Celebration Center, but to find ways to reach people throughout Israel who’d never heard the truth about Yeshua.
Fields of Nazir Training Facility
Sunday, November 22
Ben had been unable to keep his mind on the order of the day. Sunday morning had been special in a couple of ways. Hannah had given Ben the privilege of speaking to the team and leading them in worship. He’d chosen a passage from Ezekiel chapter thirty-six in which the Lord promised he would vindicate his great name, not only to the nations, but to his covenant people Israel. The passage, and therefore the message, was filled with hope and forgiveness, something Ben felt the team needed to hear before risking their lives. They received the word wholeheartedly.
The thing that brought a great sense of peace to Ben was seeing how the men had gelled as a spiritual unit. They were not only coming together as a dangerous team of covert operatives, but they were being built together in spirit by way of participating in concentrated prayer for one another. This was teamwork that was gratifying to see, and to be a part of.
But the biggest thrill, and therefore the distracting element, came when Hannah announced to the men that they would be given an opportunity to contact their families. After having agreed to a no-contact policy by signing onto the team, none of the men had entertained the possibility of such a gift. As gracious as it was, Hannah’s announcement removed any productivity from the day’s training. Everyone’s mind was emotionally invested in a conversation with wives and children, and although the instructors acted as if they were frustrated and angry, everyone understood what was happening. They’d experienced the same struggle over the course of their careers and knew the value of connecting with a loved one before going into battle.
Ben, however, suffered more than the others in his wait to make the call. With only one available phone, each man had taken his turn throughout the evening. Knowing the Ingrid would be spending the majority of the day shuttling the Dempsey’s all around Husifa and Haifa, there was no point in attempting to contact her until it was late. He found the wait quite difficult.
No one was present in the small lounge area when he entered. All the men had turned in for the night. He sat down, picked up the phone, and punched in the numbers. His heart was racing in anticipation of hearing Ingrid’s soft voice.
The tone sounded once, twice, a third and fourth time before Ingrid answered. Sleep was in her voice. “Yes.”
“Hello sweetheart, it’s me,” he grinned as he spoke. His smile widened when he heard a shriek erupt on her end of the line.
“What? Oh my goodness, is it you?”
“Sure it’s me.”
“But I wasn’t supposed to be hearing from you,” she said. Then fear took over. “Has something happened, honey? Are you hurt?”
“No, no, it’s okay, don’t worry,” he soothed. “They gave us a surprise this morning and said we could call home.”
He heard a bustling sound in the background. Ingrid was adjusting her position on her pillow. When she spoke again, he could tell that tears were accompanying the words.
“I was so worried about you. I miss you so.”
“Me too. When they told us how many rockets and missiles were hitting the cities, we nearly went ballistic. But then we learned the government was keeping an eye on you and there were no casualties among our families. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to the Lord.”
“Oh, Benjamin, it was terrible. There is damage everywhere, but you’re right. There were some injuries here and there, but very few. Yeshua has protected our people.”
“What about our new friends?” Ben asked.
He’d been particularly concerned about the Dempsey’s coming into a war zone and being harmed.
“They’re great!” Ingrid exclaimed. “Both of them are taking this all in stride.”
“Have you been able to get him plugged in?”
“My goodness, I hardly had to do anything. This man is a whirlwind.”
“What do you mean?” Ben was puzzled.
Ingrid shared with her husband how Moshe and his wingman intercepted a set of Turkish fighters that was attempting to destroy the jet carrying Ty and Blake, how miraculously God had protected them in their arrival. Ben laughed loudly when he heard how Ty had jumped into service at the feeding station on the day he was supposed to be celebrating his honeymoon.
“What did Blake say when he showed up so late?” he wiped his eyes, he’d laughed so hard.
“That’s the wildest part,” said Ingrid. “When he got back to the apartment she was in a full blown Bible study. You won’t believe what she found!”
“She was reading her daily Psalm and…”
“Blake found Psalm eighty-three,” Ben interrupted.
“How did you know?” she whispered.
“We found it too, Ezekiel twenty-five, Jeremiah twelve, and Zephaniah two, among others.”
“Why didn’t we see this before? Those prophecies are exactly what happened,” Ingrid exclaimed. “Did you know our brigades have almost achieved the ancient boundaries of Solomon’s reign?”
“Yes, they keep us up-to-date.”
“It is unbelievable what’s happening! Anyway, since that night, we have been either ducking our heads for cover, or taking Ty and Blake around town.”
“How are the people receiving them?”
“That’s the great part. Everywhere he goes, people are asking for him to preach and for her to sing.”
“You mean in all our small groups from Celebration Center?”
“Partly, but it has gone way beyond our church people. Just today Ty preached in six different places. I suppose the numbers added up to around six or seven hundred people.”
Now Ingrid laughed at her husband. “It’s true. In fact, there were probably more. And, do you want to know the best part?”
“Of course I do.”
“Everywhere we went people gave their heart to Yeshua. It’s like the eyes of Israel are being opened, at least partly.”
Ben’s mouth dropped open. All he could do was shake his head in wonder.
“What’s wrong,” she asked.
“Nothing! I’m just astounded. Praise the Lord!” Ben shouted.
“I keep saying it, but that isn’t everything.”
“What more could there be?”
“Ty has a new helper.”
“Moshe,” she said softly.
“Shouldn’t he be out flying his jet?”
Ingrid explained what happened to Moshe on the night of the attack, how he’d survived but broke his arm. “He’s on leave for a couple of weeks. After that, he’ll go back to his duty but won’t be able to fly again until the arm is fully healed. So, he’s attached himself to Ty.”
“I’m so glad. I really felt bad about not being able to mentor him.”
“Honey, Yeshua took care of that. Ty is bringing him along incredibly fast. Moshe can’t get enough of the Scripture, and you won’t believe how easily he leads people into salvation.”
A lump formed in Ben’s throat at how God was blessing in his absence. Sure, he’d experienced moments of doubt about whether he should have attached himself to the ARC Project, but the Lord was proving his will in every aspect. But still, the most difficult part was being separated from the love of his life. The thoughts flowing through his heart created a long pause in the conversation, one in which Ingrid felt his emotional struggle.
“Are you okay, Benjamin?”
“Babe, I really miss you. I wish I could see your eyes lit up like your voice is doing.”
Ingrid sighed. She longed for the man she’d never been separated from in all the years of their marriage.
“When is this thing going to be over? When are you coming home?”
“I’m not sure, except to say I think the mission is about to happen soon.”
“I wish it was over!”
“Me too, babe.” He knew Ingrid’s floodgate of tears was about to open. A couple were pooling in his eyes as well. And then very softly he said, “I love you with all my heart.”
“I love you too,” she whispered. “We’re praying for you every moment. Please, honey, please be careful in your mission. Promise me!”
“I promise, sweetie.”
Ben sat for a very long time, processing the emotions that were pulling at his heart. So much could go wrong in the mission. He could die, he understood, but death was not an issue. He knew where he was going should that happen. What was bothering him was how either way, with a successful mission, or by his death, the odds were his life with Ingrid on this earth were probably limited. If what they believed was true, returning the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple Mount would set off a cataclysmic event, either at the hand of God, or by the hand of Israel’s enemies. In both cases, the Rapture of the Church, the great hope for which they’d longed for so many years, was imminent. But as much as he yearned for Jesus and eternity, his human heart was very attached to his wife. It was difficult to think that relationship might change, even if it was for the better.
He lowered his face into the palms of his hands and prayed.
Change is frightening, Lord. I admit part of me is afraid of the future. But I also know you said “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what you have in store for those who love you.” My soul knows this is true. Help the rest of me understand it too.
Mount Quarnat as Sawda
Tuesday, November 24
General Anatoly Telnikov peered at the large map hanging on the wall as he perused the report he’d just been provided. He shook his head in awe as the full picture of Israel’s advance began to take shape.
These people are astonishing! Three IDF Brigades had ground their way through southern Lebanon with amazing speed. Lebanese Army and Hezbollah remnants had quickly given way to the Israelis in a hasty retreat up the Bekaa Valley, only to be met by Russian 7th Armored Division. The defeated Lebanese units threw down their weapons in surrender, effectively ending organized terrorism in the region forever.
In only four days, Israeli battalions had formed a defensive line from Jiyeh, on the west coast just south of Beirut, all the way across Lebanon to Lake Qaraoun at the mouth of the Bekaa Valley. IDF Northern Command pushed its way round the slopes of Mount Hermon and controlled the eastern border all the way to Mazraat Dier Al Aachayer. They were now face to face with the Libyans south of Beruit, the Russians in the Bekaa Valley, and the Turks on the eastern slopes of Lebanon.
Not only that, the Golani Brigade, with all its support and artillery battalions had overcome the Syrians and were within two days of staring Tariq Kazimi in the eye along the Euphrates River.
Telnikov scanned further into the report to see that a good portion of Jordan and western Saudi Arabia were now occupied by the Israelis. The Egyptians had either abandoned, or been beaten back all the way across the Suez Canal. In fact, the Sudanese Army was filtering into the lower Negev and Egyptian highlands in their place.
Israel’s progress in defeating its enemies was nothing short of stellar, even superior. Being a perfectionist in military tactics, Telnikov was impressed in the most vibrant way. The only problem was that the Israeli’s had not acted according to the plan. Rather than allowing themselves to be bottled up by the Russian-led coalition, they had bravely and confidently stepped out in full force to block the peacekeeping plan. The General knew full well that Prime Minister Polkov was swallowing down a steady stream of Valium to quell his anger. Things certainly had not gone according to his design.
Telnikov laughed. The little, beady-eyed tyrant had been out-foxed by a Jew. If that did not incite the man’s wrath, then there was nothing that could.
But now the growing dilemma struck him full in the face. His hesitance to slow Israel’s rush into Lebanon by not alerting his superiors would exert its price. He questioned what he was to do, especially since his recent experiences seemed to be steering his decisions.
He could no longer deny that those experiences were spiritual in nature. People simply did not see visions as a norm, that is, unless they were insane. But he knew he was not insane. The visions he’d seen, the dreams his mind had played during the night, had evoked memories he had repressed long ago. The oddity was how the dreams and the memories meshed into what looked like a divine purpose. The thought that this could be true challenged his loyalties.
Am I loyal to the Motherland, or to a being I have never met? Am I even certain he exists?
This was the conundrum he faced. From this point onward, his decisions would stem from that question. If he chose the loyalty to Russia that he had cultivated his entire life, the inevitable result would include a massive strike against the Israelis. If he chose to follow a something spiritual, something he could not pretend to understand, his actions would designate him a traitor and an outlaw, punishable by death.
Telnikov closed his eyes and tried to decide which direction he should choose.
Immediately, his grandmother’s face flooded his thoughts, a face he’d shoved far from his consciousness. It had resurfaced during his jump into Lebanon.
“Grandmother, my sweet Mamma, what shall I do?” he silently pleaded.
Just then the sat-phone on his desk vibrated, indicating an incoming call from the Kremlin.
“Da, Telnikov here.”
“Anatoly, I have orders for the 7th Armored,” growled Field Marshal Velniak. “We have been given the green light to initiate operations against Israel in three days.”
“We are not simply going to contain them?”
“Ay, Anatoly, you knew all along containment was not the plan. Have you become dull in the Middle Eastern air?”
“Then prepare your plan of action and get your officers up to speed or I will send you into your retirement.”
“What will be the hour of engagement?” Telnikov ignored the field marshal’s threat.
“Zero-four-hundred hours. Coordination with all coalition units will come through your command. All codes and protocols will be issued today. You may add your own levels of security to the codes. Be ready!” The call was terminated.
Anatoly closed his eyes again, but the face of Olga Breslev Telnikov was no longer visible.
Fields of Nazir Training Facility
Wednesday, November 25
Ben had breezed through two days of intense training and could tell he was improving his endurance. His body was hardening again. He was also enjoying a deep peace in his heart, a peace he had been lacking before his conversation with Ingrid. Maybe it was the aftereffects of hearing her voice and touching her soul. Maybe the Lord was easing his concerns about the future. Whichever the case, he was ready to concentrate on the mission and be done with it.
The team gathered early and had finished a hearty breakfast by the time Hannah Lira entered. Ben noticed she made eye contact and chatted with each of the men as she prepared to address the group. That was a deviation from her normal get-to-the-point, task oriented way of doing business. Something was up.
“Not to brighten your day too much,” she began after standing behind the podium and the map, “but your training is nearly complete.”
Her news was greeted with applause, hoots, and whistles. Everyone was ready to move forward with the operation. She smiled widely and clenched her fists in the air as if she’d just won a race. But, looking at her eyes, Ben could detect she was masking a burden. Her enthusiasm was hiding something of life-or-death importance.
“Today, through midday tomorrow, your focus will be to perfect the precision of your four-man tactics. Friday you will prepare your gear and rest up as best you can. We launch the mission after sundown.”
“So it will be a Sabbath bathed in fire!” Gilad blurted out. More whistles and shouts resulted.
“Fire is the operative word,” Hannah smiled and waited for silence. “By Saturday evening, we will know for sure if the return of the Ark will any effect on Israel’s situation.”
Ben was puzzled by the apprehension he detected Hannah’s voice. “Are you having doubts?”
She shuffled the papers on the podium refusing to answer too quickly. Everyone felt a shallow wave of nerves flowing from their leader. “Ben, I have no doubt that this mission is ordained by God. But as I shared with you at the beginning, I do not know what will actually transpire once the objective has been achieved.”
“Are you worried nothing will happen?”
She looked him in the eye. “I am worried about the loss of valuable lives without having the assurance that what I hope will happen, will really happen. These are lives that I have come to respect and love as brothers.”
There it is, thought Ben. That is the weight she is carrying. “In other words, you’re afraid that any sacrifice we make will be in vain, correct?”
Hannah nodded in the affirmative.
“Well don’t’! We all understand the cost that may be exacted on this mission. We’ve come to terms with it.”
Hannah brought her hand up to cover her mouth. Her eyes filled with tears.
Ari Goins rose from is chair and stepped up to wrap his big arms around his longtime friend. She was dwarfed by his size, but the gesture seemed to give her the ability to release her burden. She cried freely until the rest of the group gathered around her and prayed. In the process, the unity of the team was sealed by the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.
Wednesday, November 25
Ty stepped slowly to the lectern and allowed his eyes to absorb the ornamental beauty of the nave. Beams inlaid with gold, silver, and brass formed stately supports for the roof. The ceiling was graced with a breathtaking fresco. Tall marble statues of venerated saints lined the outer walls of the ancient Roman Orthodox Church. But what demonstrated to him that God was at work was a sanctuary filled with people. They all longed to hear the truth.
This was not a crowd made up of predominantly Catholic worshippers. Ty knew this not only by appearance, but by the fact that few had genuflected or had outlined the sign of the cross. The ones who had bowed and crossed were Israelis, but they were mostly of gentile ancestry. They had existed in a religious vacuum and had never assimilated into true Jewish culture. The rest were Jews, and the resident Catholics were uneasy at having so many non-converted people sitting in their church.
The disgusted look on some of the faces humored and saddened Ty at the same time. He was well versed in the hardness brought on by religiosity. People steeped in demonstrating their religion by a standard of good works always ended up creating exclusivity. They missed how God desired a relationship based on love, not religion.
Maybe that fallacy can be remedied some tonight, Ty thought to himself. After all, he’d been given an opportunity that no other protestant preacher had ever been afforded, especially an American protestant preacher. Some upper echelon members of the church’s hierarchy had heard him speak in a street rally. They’d been impressed, so much so that they’d convinced the Bishop to extend Ty an invitation. Their specific request was that he would share the reason he was in Israel, and expound on some of the ancient Biblical prophecies they had heard him reveal.
Seated in the hand-carved, wooden pew closest to him were Blake, Ingrid, Tasha, and Moshe. Ty winked at his wife and nodded at his new pal. Moshe Eldan had blown him away by his lack of fear, as well as his enthusiasm to learn as much as he could about Yeshua. What characterized him as a fighter pilot, the ability to face overwhelming odds while hardly breaking into a sweat, now defined him as a believer. In the last two days, this new convert had shared his faith without apprehension. People, both Jews and Arabs, had found Christ through his story. All Ty had done to help him along was clarify the points of the gospel, guide him through the scriptures, and let him go.
Now it was Ty’s turn to step out into something different. He began by greeting the people then walking the people step by step through the passages of the scripture. He pinpointed the prophecies that had just been fulfilled, including the destruction of Damascus, and the complete defeat of Israel’s enemies. He demonstrated how the events could not have happen until after such time as Israel was restored as a nation. He attached dates with events, and the people followed him in rapt attention.
“As with most prophecy, it is always easier to grasp an understanding of its meaning after the predicted event has been fulfilled. In the case of Israel, the simplest thing to comprehend is that Jehovah has done as he promised. He restored the Jewish people to their ancient land as a free people.” As he spoke he scanned the audience to make sure they understood. By the nods of heads and expressions of intensity on the faces, they were following along nicely.
“Now,” he continued, “all of us have an innate desire to know what is going to happen next. That is a part of how Jehovah made us. We are curious, and one of the reasons he gave us the prophetic scriptures was to keep us alert. But there is another reason. These prophecies are calls to repentance.”
“For instance, nearly every Israeli is aware of the prophet Ezekiel and his vision of a valley filled with dry bones, are you not?”
People shook their heads in the affirmative. Some even used their voices to agree.
“Good.” Ty then read entirety of Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven, including how God would break the dividing wall between the tribes. Then, “thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.”
He then pointed out from chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine that two distinct events from the passage had yet to be fulfilled, but were on the verge of coming to pass. He started with the names of the nations that God revealed to Ezekiel. Ty reminded them who those ancient nations were and where they settled, how the names had changed, but the nations they represented were now in existence. He let the scripture speak for itself as to how severely those nations would be judged and why God would do it.
“You see,” he challenged, “the next thing to happen is written clearly. The nations that will be involved are specifically named, and they are surrounding the mountains of Israel as we speak, just as prophesied by Ezekiel. The Russian-led coalition of Iran, Turkey, Libya, and Sudan are going to attack!”
A murmur began spreading through the crowd, but Ty was not done and held up his hand until the people became quiet.
“My friends, the wonderful portion of this passage says that we have nothing to fear. Jehovah himself is going to deal with these enemies, and Israel will be spared!”
People began to applaud. They understood. They took hold of what Ty was teaching.
“But that is not the full picture,” he shouted above the din. “Ezekiel said, ‘But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd.”
The moment of truth had arrived. All eyes were fixed on Ty. All ears were listening intently.
“My servant David shall be King.” The echo of his voice bounced off the marble and precious metals that covered the walls. Everyone heard the words clearly.
“Now listen to what God said. Let them sink into your heart. Believe!”
He flipped through the pages of his Bible to his final passage. He breathed a prayer that the Lord would remove the veil off the eyes of his hearers.
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on this throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Yeshua, God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain, that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Yeshua, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
What happened next was almost an exact repeat of what happened two thousand years earlier. The people immediately stood, and a tumult of voices began. Many Jews were livid at hearing Ty’s words. Only a few moments passed before people began to leave in anger. But more people stayed than left. Those who remained had a look that said, “Tell us what we need to do.”
Ty gently shared the step of faith that was needed. The people responded. Over two hundred Israeli’s received God’s grace and decided to follow Yeshua. Lives were changed forever.
Thirty minutes later, after most of the attendees had finally filtered out the door, a distinguished, grey-haired gentleman approached Ty and Moshe. In his early seventies, sporting a suit jacked, immaculately tailored slacks, and a black fedora in his hands, the man exuded stateliness. His smile was infectious.
“Sir, may I have a moment of your time?” he requested as he extended his hand toward Ty.
“Certainly,” Ty responded as he shook the man’s hand.
“My name is Ehud Aveneri. I am a professor of archeology at Jerusalem University and am an avowed believer in Yeshua. I have a great favor to ask, if you do not mind.”
“How can we be of service?”
“As you know, Israel has been a hard shell to crack. Jews have been stubborn to the ways of Yeshua since that fateful day when we sent him to his death. But what I have seen tonight has renewed my hope that Israel’s true day of salvation is nearing.”
Ty nodded in agreement. “I pray that is so.”
“Thank you,” he bowed slightly at the waist, humbled by the American’s love for the Jewish people, and then he continued. “Jerusalem needs you.”
Ty was taken aback by the statement. It hadn’t entered his mind that he was needed by anyone, let alone the capitol city of Israel.
“I see I have made you ponder, but it is true. I have prayed many years for the opening of a door to Jerusalem’s people, both Jews and Arabs. Have you ever been to the city?”
“No sir, I have only been in Israel a few days, and this is my first trip.”
“By what you said tonight, it might be your last trip,” Aveneri declared. “But that is for the One to decide. Anyway, I digress. Would you receive an invitation to come and share this truth in Jerusalem? You can stay with me in my small home on the University’s campus, and I am sure we can use the auditorium as the meeting place of choice.”
Ty looked at Moshe who was grinning from ear to ear. “Look preacher,” Moshe encouraged, “if you’re right, you may not get another opportunity. I was hoping to take you there at some point.”
“I should probably talk this over with my wife, but I would love to come,” Ty acquiesced.
“Good,” Aveneri slapped Ty on the side of his shoulder, “it is settled!” He then turned to Moshe, “I will expect you to deliver him and his lovely wife no later than midday tomorrow.”
Ty was startled again. “Ehud,” he stammered, “may I call you Ehud?”
“You realize we have taken up responsibilities here on behalf of a fellow pastor?”
Aveneri smiled widely and leaned forward as if he harbored a secret. “Yes, I am aware. You are here to fill the shoes of Benjamin Sherett, am I correct? Well, be at ease. I know all about his mission.”
Moshe cocked an eyebrow at the man, suddenly suspicious that Ehud Aveneri might be a plant attempting to gather information he was not supposed to have. Aveneri saw the reaction.
“And you, my young friend, know exactly what I am talking about. Benjamin is on a mission of the utmost importance to our people, and he is with a very good friend of mine named Hannah Lira. That is all I will say. You must trust me. In fact, you may contact the University to verify I am who I say I am.” He never lost his smile, as if he were teaching a pair of recalcitrant students.
Ty placed hand on Moshe’s arm just before the fighter pilot fired back inappropriately to Aveneri’s challenge. “It’s alright pal. I have a feeling Mr. Aveneri is legitimate.”
“My thanks to you for such faith,” Aveneri bowed again. “Now, can I expect you tomorrow at the University? I assure you it will be a visit of no more than three days on this occasion. We can establish a date on the calendar for an extended stay and one-of-a-kind tour of the Holy City. What say you?”
Ty craned his neck until he spotted Blake standing in a circle of ladies. Ingrid was interpreting for her as she shared with another woman. Ideally, he should be consulting with his new bride, but something inside urged him to walk through this open door. After all, taking every opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus was the reason they were in Israel. His decision was made. He nodded in the affirmative at Moshe.
“We’ll be there,” Ty agreed, “but may I request that my friends also be invited?”
Aveneri clapped his hands together in exuberance. “Of course! Classes are not in session. Most of our students are now serving in the military during this time of crises. There are plenty of rooms. Come, bring them all.”
Ty took Ehud Aveneri’s business card and shook the man’s hand. As Aveneri passed through the outer door and into the night, Moshe looked at Ty and shrugged his shoulders. Whatever was about to happen, they were in it together.
Jimmy Root Jr
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