When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. (Deuteronomy 30:1-3)
I’m sitting here in a beach hotel in Tel Aviv, just sitting in the lobby watching the world go by. People are walking down the streets, laughing, shopping, and doing such ordinary things.
And it blows my mind. Do you want to know why?
I’m sitting in the Jewish state, in the days foretold by the prophets and, of course, by the Lord Himself. Time and again, He told them exactly what would happen to them, and that He would bring them back to the land of their forefathers in the closing days of world history.
I don’t care in the least that scoffers laugh about “the end of the world” and all that stuff. There is such a thing as willful ignorance.
So today, I am Walker Percy for a few hours. The novelist also felt the hair on his neck stand up when he “passed a Jew” on the street.
These people should be gone, like the Babylonians and Assyrians and the Ottomans. Instead, they are here in full color.
The above passage was given to the Israelites in the time of Moses. The fellow who helped me with my rental car today at Ben Gurion Airport is named Moshe/Moses. When you shake the hand of an Israeli today, you are touching 4,000 years of a living, breathing people. Or, as another novelist, Herman Wouk might put it, you are touching “an ember of sacred fire.”
They have museums here that I will visit with my son. There we will see artifacts from almost countless civilizations that passed through this area. Israel, though, is not a museum.
Israel is alive. I see it, touch it, smell it, hear it, and taste it. If you can’t find God in this miracle on the Mediterranean, then I would say that you are not looking.
What an extraordinary thing, to watch miracle after miracle pass by my window. I am deeply moved.
TOMORROW: Jaffa, then Jerusalem.