Is it the End of the World?

One of my favorite moments from the great documentary, The Last Waltz, is when the Band’s magnificent guitarist and songwriter, Robbie Robertson, leans into a microphone and smiles at the excited crowd:

“Still there, huh?”

The audience endured that night, waiting for the marathon concert that would find its place in history.

I was reminded of this while reading an extraordinary new book by Yehuda Avner—The Prime Ministers.

Avner served as an advisor to several key Israeli leaders, including Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin, and Golda Meir. His personal reflections make this a thoroughly absorbing book.

I love Jews, unashamedly, believing them to be a noble people. I am glad they have proven the prophets right, that they would endure through the generations, as their many enemies passed into history. A bit from Avner’s book is a great reminder.

The scene is the seventh of June, 1967. In the midst of the Six-Day War, Israel was faced with the possibility of re-capturing the Old City of Jerusalem.

They did just that, in fact, and gained control for the first time in 2,000 years. Listen to Avner’s recollection of Begin making his way to the Western Wall, barely after the shooting had stopped. Standing in front of the ancient stones, amid a group of tired, sweat-soaked paratroopers, Begin said the following, a prayer he had just jotted down:

“O God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Lord of Hosts, be Thou our help, Our enemies encompassed us—they encompassed us and arose to destroy us as a people. Yet their counsel came to naught and their evil was not accomplished. For there has arisen in our Homeland a new generation, a generation of liberators, a generation of warriors and heroes. And when they went forth to engage the enemy there burst forth from their hearts the call which echoes down the generations, the call from the father of the Prophets, the redeemer of Israel from the bondage of Egypt: ‘Arise up O Lord and let Your enemies be scattered and let those that hate You be put to flight.'”

Ah, so biblical. So rich. And certainly, the Jews have endured down through the years and will continue to do so. God has preserved them as He said He would, and this is the most astonishing prophecy of all. I think of this when I walk through Israel and see a thriving, living people:

“Still there, huh?”

Blowing the shofar at the Western Wall, June 1967

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