Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

It might be the end, but the food sure is good

posted by jfletcher

Being in the holy city of Jerusalem is of course an amazing experience. It is now about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, the start of the work week here.

I am listening to the Muslim call to prayer, thinking about my drive through Ma’ale Adumim yesterday and how President Obama needs to take a drive around the city to fully understand what he’s talking about. I’m also thinking a lot about the souls that live in this city, ranging from the Palestinians who eek-out a living selling souvenirs to tourists, to the fascinating families living in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.

To be perfectly honest, though, I’m thinking about the food. Two nights ago my marvelous 19-year-old son, Jonathan, and I had dinner at the Armenian Tavern, just inside Jaffa Gate. Let me tell you something: wherever you live on this planet, get on a plane and come to Jerusalem for this magnificent food. I’m told the Armenian Tavern was once a Crusader whatchamacallit.

We also had some great-tasting stuff yesterday on the way to Masada. I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious.

Just some light-hearted fare today, from a place that knows and suffers from conflict.

Christ Church

posted by jfletcher

I’ve stayed in plenty of hotels in Jerusalem over the years, including the fabled King David. For a trip with my son, I decided to spend a couple nights at Christ Church Guesthouse, just inside the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate.

What a great choice.

The church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East (built in the 1840s, so one hopes that on his trip through Palestine, Mark Twain at least popped in), Christ Church is a real oasis.

Just a few feet from the first British Consulate (1820), the guesthouse and grounds is perfect for pilgrims, is safe and comfortable.

There is even—apparently—a lecture later in the week on the subject of Bob Dylan and the end of time. I’m not sure if the two are linked.

In any event, we are off to the Dead Sea today, and Masada.

Something fishy in Jaffa

posted by jfletcher

Today, my son and I went to the old port city of Jaffa, just south of Israel’s modern city of Tel Aviv. The place, of course, is famous for a lot of things, including visits by Alexander the Great and Napolean.

It is however most famous as the location for a famous Bible story: Jonah and the “great fish.”

Standing on the dock, I watched Israeli boaters head out to sea and I was reminded of the critics and the scoffers who allege that Jonah was not a real person; after all, the whole thing about a whale swallowing the reluctant preacher is too fantastic to believe, right?

Yet we believe in alien life, of which there isn’t a shred of evidence. So many want to believe it, fervently hope it is true. But miracles in the Bible are tamped-down and/or ridiculed.

There are marvelous reasons for believing that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be and that the historical records hold up to scrutiny. We’ll talk about those in the days and weeks and months to come.

For now, I am glad I was able to visit old Jaffa, the city of Jonah.

I believe.

Say hello to Moshe

posted by jfletcher

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.

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