Open the Gates!

Take a close look at the picture of the Eastern Gate of the old city of Jerusalem.  You might want to click to enlarge it.  In particular, notice the cemetery in front of those gates, filled with the graves of Arab Muslims.  They built a graveyard there thinking to keep anyone from ever coming through those gates again.  As our Israeli guide shared this with us, I couldn’t contain the laughter.  Excuse me, but isn’t this the gate through which the glory of God will enter before filling His temple? 1 Doesn’t that effectively make this God’s Gate?  And man thinks he will keep God from using these gates by erecting a graveyard – filled with dead men’s bones – to guard it?

Luke 1:37 AMP For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

This scene, and the absurdity of it, came back to me as I prayed for someone who has known and served God with a burning zeal in the past, but has been offended and turned his back for a time.  In light of the facts behind the picture above, I would say that this person has been deceived by offense into thinking they have made themselves invisible to God, since they no longer want to see Him.  But the barrier they’ve built is made of dead stuff, and cannot keep Him out forever!

It’s laughable, in a sad kind of way, to read of this one’s plight.  As the beginning of another new year arrives, however, it would be good to consider what dead stuff we might have used in areas of our own lives to make a barrier against Almighty God?  Whatever they may be only keep us from the fullness of God’s power, love, and work in us – and His perfect protection of us.  Trying to eliminate access to what belongs to God spiritually, as the Arab Muslims have done physically around the Eastern Gate, won’t stop Him.  God’s good plans and purposes shall be fulfilled – and they are all good. 2

With the help of Holy Spirit, it’s time to scrape away those rocks and dig up those graves now – that the King of Glory shall come in! 3

1Ezekiel 43:1-7
2Jeremiah 29:11
3Psalm 24:7-10

All in the Heart

As I prepared for a 10-day journey to Israel, to take place the first two weeks of the official Christmas season, I grumbled a bit inside.  After all, why was this trip at this time?  It’s stressful enough to try to get everything extra done in December, without “losing” 10 days (plus the days it takes to get over jet lag!)  I made up my mind that I’d not do another trip at this time of year.  That was before . . .

Before I set foot on the land.

Jezreel Valley (Valley of Armageddon)

Before I saw the Jezreel Valley (also known as the Valley of Armageddon).

Before I experienced the Father’s heartbeat for His beloved Jews as they weep before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Wailing Wall – Jerusalem
Capernaum at Sea of Galilee

Before I wandered near the edge of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum, right where Jesus was.

Before I saw the rock on which it is believed He sat as He blessed the 5 loaves and 2 fish before the miraculous multiplication took place.  Before I walked the very road Jesus traveled as He headed to Jerusalem with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna!”  Before I knelt on the floor of the dungeon in which my Jesus was kept overnight at Caiaphas’ house before His crucifixion.

Before I sat on the steps of the temple – the very ones where Jesus would have sat and taught.

steps leading into temple

Before . . . I saw that empty garden tomb!

My mind has been turned upside down because of this trip.  Now I can think of nothing better for this time of year than to be in the land of Israel, interacting with the people, Messianic and non-believer.  Now I can complete the important things of this season – truly, not everything we do is really that important – in the fullness of Christ and His peace.  Truly, Christmas is all in the heart.