The day had finally come. The day for which every Jew yearns. At least every Jew who has been alive since June of 1967, when Israel took back the Temple Mount in the heart of Jerusalem in a six-day war with its Arab neighbors. I was in Israel for the first time as part of a tour led by Art Katz and Ben Israel Ministries. Today was our day to go to the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall. I had every expectation that this was going to be a special and profound experience.
How did I come to this day? I was radically saved by Yeshua the Messiah on May 18, 1973 at age twenty-three at a Billy Graham Association movie called Time to Run. I had met Art Katz seven weeks later at a messianic discipleship conference being held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Out of Art emanated the essence, the seriousness, the timeless quality of a Hebrew man intoxicated with God. During those days I was filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing. My journey in the Lord was off to a great start. My Jewishness was more real to me than it had ever been, combined with a living connection to my ancestors through the Scriptures and covenants. Though as a child I had given money to plant trees in Israel, and that nation was very important to my father as a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, as a saved Jew I did not experience any immediate or strong urge to go back and see the land. Not until thirty years later, when Art mentioned in the fall of 2003 at a meeting at Ben Israel in northern Minnesota that he was planning on making a tour of Israel in the spring of 2004. Then, as the words rolled out of his mouth, I felt my spirit leap inside of me like John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth. My time had come! I was to go on that trip with Art and others!
There was one thought that was consuming me as we got ready to go to the wall. I had learned that one of the main reasons that Jews considered this place to be so holy is their belief that the Shekinah of God, the very presence and glory of God, hovered and resided at the top of the wall. I said to myself, “If that is what the Jewish people believe that is what I believe! I am going to that wall today expecting to have an encounter with the living God of Israel!”
Our group was processed through the various check points and security zones that people pass through to get to the wall. My thirteen-year-old son Abraham, who was on the trip as part of a rite of passage, approached the wall with me. When we got to it, we just stood there quietly, trying to take it all in. As is the custom, we wrote down some prayers on small pieces of paper that we wanted God to answer, and we stuck the folded notes into available cracks between the massive stones that already had untold numbers of papers in them. I then knew what I needed and wanted to do. I reached out and touched the wall, and then it immediately happened. I distinctly and clearly heard the sound of a rushing wind coming down from the top of the wall and into my head. WOOSH came the sound, and then right away the words, the unmistakable still small voice of the Lord that had visited the Hebrew prophets and had been mine to hear before. I knew that voice. I knew its quality, its integrity, its certainty, its gentleness and its authority. And this is what He said, “I want you to be unified with your people.” Shocked and stunned by this sublime and challenging visitation, I recoiled from off the wall, and vacillating between elation and disquiet, I struggled greatly to consider the implications of such words directly from the Holy One. I spoke loudly in my spirit to the Lord, “Wait a minute! I have been a Christian for almost thirty-one years, mostly associating with believing Gentiles the whole time, and now you want me to be ‘unified’ with my people, the Jewish people? What does that mean? What could that possibly look like?” After standing there for some timeless seconds, or maybe minutes, I again knew what I had to do. I reached out and touched the wall again, seeking another encounter and some more explanation for the stupefying words I had just heard. As I touched the wall the same thing happened again. WOOSH! The strong sound of an accelerating breeze came down from the top of this ancient wall and shot into my skull. And the exact, same voice was heard again, but this time with one word change that made all the difference. He said, “I want you to be unified with our people.” OHHHHHHH, the glory, the thrill, the warmth and the magnificence of hearing the King of Israel, Yeshua Himself, expressing His total embrace and identification with His Jewish brethren and His invitation to join Him in this unity of heart and soul!!!!!! I was undone!!! I realized I had just heard words from my Lord that had consequences that would change the rest of my life. I took my hand off the wall, staggered away with my son while saying nothing, trying to collect myself and weigh out and fully absorb what had just happened.
Since then I have been discovering and working out the reality of those two powerful and loving words from God. My identity, self-knowledge, view of history and the Bible have been radically adjusted. I am a Jew, loved and rescued by Yeshua. I am a man of Israel, out of Israel, within Israel and for Israel. I have joined God in His zeal for Zion. I know more than ever that I am a citizen and member of the Israel of God. I am unified with my/our people, both believers and unbelievers in Messiah Yeshua, in solidarity and communion with my God, who came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel and identified with the sins of His people. I spend time with my Jewish brethren, both believing and not, when I can, and I teach and encourage Gentile believers to have a zeal for Zion that imitates the fiery passion of the Lord God. I touched that wall and was touched in return. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity.”