Nov. 20, 2019 Steve Martin, Love For His People ministry
(Photos by Steve Martin in October 2019. Top photo is of the Western Wall and plaza with Lathan Wood and Greg Partipilo shown. Lathan is the one in the white shorts!)
Up until now, I have written of our day-to-day travels in chronological order, more as one would have kept a journal and then shared it with others. Going forward, this will not be the day-by-day writing as it has been, hoping in this way you might receive the Lord’s heart and Spirit for His holy city.
My desire is to share more of the human touch. You can do that if you get close to the people living there. Though journals or documentary writing is good, I pray you receive more of a sense of those lives who have been brought here, and the lives they now live. I look to the Holy Spirit to do that.
Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and Jewish synagogues are scattered throughout the capital city of Israel. From my Christian upbringing, the most important places of all are the crucifixion and resurrection sites of Yeshua. Though there are two locations believed to have been the historical sites for each, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is governed by several Christian sects, and the Garden Tomb less than a mile away, situated next to what some consider the hill of Golgotha, both come with good credentials as to why they may be the exact places.
I personally believe our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and rose from the tomb in the ground and surface now covered by the massive Church. But the main point, and most importantly the eternal truth, is that you believe that He did what He said He was going to do, fulfilling the multitudes of prophecies foretold by the Hebrew prophets centuries before of the coming Messiah. Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled those prophetic words. The Prophet Isaiah’s words written in chapter 53* are some of the primary portions of the Bible proving Yeshua was the Son of God, the Perfect and Spotless Lamb, sacrificed on Pesach (Passover). He alone was sent from heaven by His Heavenly Father and is the only Sinless One able to wash away our sins and restore fellowship with God the Father. It was finished. It is done.
The visit to both spots was included on our highlight list. After taking the light rail train on Jaffa Street just a few blocks from our lodging, we got off at the Damascus Gate stop and walked the short distance to the Garden Tomb site, through Eastern Jerusalem. But we discovered we had to come back on Monday, after finding out it was closed on Sundays.
I especially wanted the men to get to the Western Wall next, knowing that with Shabbat over, and before Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) started at sundown, the north to south walk through the Old City would need to go quickly, as did the time.
As I think of the Western Wall, I am reminded of the time in May of 1999 when I had come to Jerusalem with a good friend from England, seeking an answer from the Lord about a life-changing decision I was going to have to make. A few months earlier at a Ruth Heflin camp meeting in the hills of Virginia, the Lord had used a prophetic teacher to speak to those present of Joseph’s life. During that message, I clearly heard the Lord’s voice in my spirit say I was to go to Jerusalem, and there He would give me the answer I was seeking. It would be a quick three days in the city, but I didn’t need any more time than that.
Being he was a Messianic Jew (Jewish believer in Yeshua as Messiah), my friend took me to the Western Wall. At first, I wasn’t sure if this Gentile could approach the Wall, let alone put my hands on it as many of the Jews praying there already were doing. This was a very sacred place to them, being it was one remaining retaining wall of the Second Temple mount, that they had. I didn’t want to violate any of their customs or religious traditions.
Sensing it was ok, I placed both my hands on the Wall and then leaned my head forward to also touch it. The presence of the Lord was so very real that I started to weep. For some time. Just knowing He had met me there, while at the same time He was releasing some pent-up things in my life, was enough.
He told me that the times of prayer and worship my wife and I had been involved with, together with others in All Nations Church over the many previous years, known as the Watch of the Lord every Friday from 10 pm to 6 am, were very important and pleasing to Him. Spending time with Him in His presence at those gatherings proved to Him of our sincerity and desire to seek, obey and walk in His ways.
The season for us there though was now going to be over. He was releasing us to go on, for other purposes and plans we were to accomplish through Him. Thus, when I returned to Charlotte, in a rather short time I gave my six-month notice that I was leaving the staff, as the Administrator, by the end of the year, after 14 years of involvement.
Not everyone has such an experience when coming to the Western Wall (the Kotel as known in Hebrew). But knowing of the diligence and faithfulness of the Jews who continue to come on a regular basis, seeking the God of Israel to come, deliver, protect, and provide, one can imagine the prayers that have ascended into heaven and heard by Hashem. They will know their Messiah.
While this time at the Wall, the four of us each had a time of prayer and intercession for our families and friends back home, and as is customary, I too placed names and prayer concerns written on paper into the cracks of the massive stones. Before leaving, we also then went into the section off to the left where they keep the arks, the large wooden boxes where Torah scrolls are kept out of the weather, and where many more Jews gather for study and prayer.
On the far side of the large plaza is a stone wall, enabling people to sit and pray, watch others come and go, or converse with each other. We there sat and watched.
Two young men from a nearby yeshiva (school of Torah study) were walking by and Lathan asked one of them a question to get their attention. Being he was closer to their age than the other three of us, they responded to him readily. Plus, seeing a black man at the Wall, which can be rare to them, while he added his engaging smile and readily liked personality, I think they were also curious as to why he was even at their Jewish holy site.
One was going to school here, from his home in Brooklyn, New York, following the desires of his father. I believe the other was from Miami, Florida. The Brooklyn student reminded me of a young Frank Sinatra, with his tie-less suit, fancy shoes, and assured mannerisms. I told him that, and he smiled even more.
Several of their friends soon joined in as they stopped by to see what was going on. I was enjoying listening to the conversation with these young people and inserted a word now and then.
When Lathan asked them about what they knew about Isaiah 53, and who it spoke of, they simply looked at each other and said, “The rabbis never talk about it. It isn’t part of our study.” Thus, they themselves had never spent time reading it. Lathan encouraged them to do so.
If only they would.
When you take the time to meet the people, engage in their lives, and seek the welfare of their home, the Lord opens doors. Even at the Western Wall.
*The entire chapter of Isaiah 53:
“Who believes our report? To whom is the arm of Adonai revealed? 2 For before him he grew up like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground. He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us. 3 People despised and avoided him, a man of pains, well acquainted with illness. Like someone from whom people turn their faces, he was despised; we did not value him.
4 In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God. 5 But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins;the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on him the guilt of all of us.
7 Though mistreated, he was submissive —he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves. 9 He was given a grave among the wicked; in his death he was with a rich man. Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive, 10 yet it pleased Adonai to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering. If he does, he will see his offspring; and he will prolong his days; and at his hand Adonai’s desire will be accomplished.
11 After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction.“By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers. 12 Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders.” Complete Jewish Bible
Here is how the New King James Version reads of Isaiah 53:
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. NKJV