Jerusalem Journal # 187
Surging whitecaps of swirling sea foam leap across the azure waters of the Sea of Galilee, appearing from my window this morning as a miniature armada of white sailboats propelled by powerful winds from the east, crashing upon the western shore. Cedars and palms bend in submission to the fierce gusts hurled at our western ridge escarpment from beyond the Golan Heights across the Syrian plateau where a convergence of tangible “winds” from around the world have Israel on high alert.
U.S. “special op” troops now join a deadly whirlwind with Russian opportunists, foreign rebel fighters, Iranian-backed Syrian nationalists, and the scorching eastern wind of those calling themselves Islamic State whose brutality has horrified the world. North, South, East, and West– it a confluence of winds creating “the perfect storm,” gaining intensity and swirling uncontrollably with a potential global threat of nuclear muscle-flexing.
Every crevice in our home which faces the eastern front and a lush landscape of herbs, potted plants, grass, and trees have been bracing under the assault of desiccating winds so powerful they can almost blow me backwards. Stepping outside in the gale, I steady myself just to snap a photograph. Windows rattle, a semi-melodious wind whistles through those places in our front door which desperately need weatherstripping before winter, and the neighbor’s choir of a gazillion wind chimes clang and clatter like a sea of shattering chandeliers.
These destructive winds from the East have a history of Biblical proportion. Egypt’s Pharaoh shared his dream with Joseph in which he saw “seven ears of corn, thin and scorched by the east wind” which signified seven years of famine (Gen. 41:27). In Exodus 10:13 “the Lord directed an east wind” which brought the plague of locusts on the Egyptians and later an east wind parted the Red Sea. Job’s sons and daughters died when “a great wind came from across the wilderness (that would be east)” and collapsed the house, killing all inside. Israel and Jerusalem were warned of judgment from an east wind in Isaiah 27:8 and Hosea 13:15. And in Jonah 4:8 it was an east wind which caused the prophet to be so afflicted that he wanted to die. As you can see, the east wind has been synonymous with calamity, destruction, famine, and judgment. In Israel it is the most feared of all winds.
The Hebrew word for wind, ruwach or roo-akh, appears for the first time “hovering over the waters” at creation. Related to God’s Spirit, the word entails a variety of meanings from breath, air, exhalation, even life. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath (ruwach) of His mouth (Psalm 33:6).” Powerful! It even says that God holds the winds in His fists; that He brings the winds out of His treasuries. He is in control of that which man struggles to control.
Perched in one of the cozy “clefts in the rock” or nooks we designed for contemplation, spiritual refreshment, and refuge, I gaze through a dust-spattered window speckled now by intermittent showers which capture the dusty east winds, hurling them against the panes. They promise me a day of window washing once the tempest is stilled.
Getting out the squeegy and washing away evidence of the wind storm seems easy compared to wiping away the tempest effects of looming war on the eastern front, growing Islamic radicalism and terror attacks, Gary’s cancer battle, and our quest for residency in Israel. My thoughts, storm-tossed like the heaving waves a thousand feet below my window, land upon the story of Yeshua with His disciples in the fishing boat during a furious squall that was about to swamp the boat. He spoke the words, “Peace! Be still.”
Today, not unlike that day when winds threatened to swamp them, is a “Batten down the hatches!” kind of day. I called a ship captain friend of ours, Captain Cook, who has weathered many a violent storm in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and islands of the Pacific. I asked Ariel about preparation onboard when winds turn violent. His advice, “Stow your gear and cut loose any non-essentials. Shorten the sail so you don’t have more wind than your rudder can handle. Maintain positive motion in the direction of your port so you don’t capsize.”
His words are no less true for the fierce winds we each are facing. Who is in the boat with you? Yeshua said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
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