A year ago, I visited Israel for the purpose of speaking at a women's retreat.
The majority of gals who attended lived in country after years of researching, filling out paperwork, and providing DNA proof of their Jewish heritage.
This process they call "making Aliyah" under the "Law of Return" established circa 1950.
What a sweet and tender time for me, speaking in a setting where as I spoke I overlooked the Sea of Galilee where Jesus began His ministry.
Over the last couple of days in-country, and following the end of the retreat, the volunteer team I partnered with toured a few sacred places.
Just prior to boarding the bus to head to Tel Aviv and the international airport, a few of us decided to pay the entrance fee that allowed us to walk the ramparts around the old city.
Surprisingly, this became my favorite sight-seeing opportunity.
It truly is a "hidden gem" in terms of gaining perspective, overlooking the beauty of the city of Jerusalem, and gaining a sense of history.
I found it easier to imagine the "tsaphah (Hebrew for watchmen)" through the years leaning forward, peering into the distance, watching, waiting, wondering, ready to warn at the drop of a hat.
There was one other reason I enjoyed the walk.
Prior to the retreat, we received a spoken word: "WATCH."
It kept creeping up in morning devotionals, in prayer time, from conversations, and even through the reading of different Scriptures as we prepared for the women to arrive.
Why "watch," I questioned at the time?
So, I began digging into Scripture...
The Old Testament is filled with passages about the importance of "watchmen" who stand on the ramparts to look for messengers or, more specifically, invading armies on the move.
The New Testament loses the language of watchmen, but scattered about warns us all to "watch" and be sober-minded, on the alert for our enemy, who especially wants to rob us of greater faith.
We're all challenged to "watchmanship" for these same purposes - to:
- keep an eye open for the enemy who is roaring about like a lion seeking whom he might devour...
- be on the alert for "exposed places," weaknesses that might allow the enemy to sneak into our lives without warning...
- stand in the gap, looking out for "the interests of Christ Jesus," which would be His Church, His Bride, His Beloved...warning and leading away from danger. Just as the watchmen of old stood at attention on behalf of others, we must do the same for the protection of souls...
- watch unto prayer, especially as last days approach, because we do not know the hour of our Lord's return...
- stay awake, lest we drift off to sleep, or drift away into those "misty flats" we talked about a few weeks back...
- to warn of turbulent days to come that our hearts might be established, steadfast, and we won't be caught off guard...
- to encourage that a "new dawn" will come in spite of the darkness that currently surrounds us...
(This, by no means, is an exhaustive, nor an exclusive, list...)
My walk around the ramparts came to mind several times over this last week as Israel, caught off guard, suffered attack from Hamas.
It appears the "watchmen" were not fully on alert.
How can a country, so skilled in espionage, experience such failure?
Did they let down their guard?
Was Hamas that good?
I wouldn't begin to give thought to an answer...
BUT, this is a great reminder for us all:
I believe we've a viable warning, a siren-call to step up, or step into, our calling to WATCH at all times, to PRAY at all times, and to remain SOBER-MINDED in order to be fully alert.
We must heed this admonition above all as we step heavenward on the path of life...
Don't let this be said of us!