Everyone in Israel has a story, usually fascinating and, at first glance, always a bit mysterious. But the seeming mysteries in each account—a persistent dream, a sequence of apparent coincidences that produce a longing to live in the Land—aren’t truly mysterious at all.
Israel’s ancient prophets did not foretell of a time during which, after much deliberation, the Lord’s chosen would suddenly decide on their own to leave their homes throughout the earth to live in Asia Minor.
The decision to make Aliyah is not ours.
“Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from far and my daughters from the ends of the earth.”(Isa 43:5-6)
Every immigrant’s story is Israel’s story and Israel’s story is the fulfillment of God’s promise.
How beautiful it will be!
The late Chuck Missler, an evangelical Christian, prominent Bible teacher and founder of the Koinonia House ministry in Coeur d’Alene Idaho was an engineer by education and was fond of comparing the Bible to a hologram, in which every piece of photo information within it is also contained within every scrap of the image. Cut a hologram in half, you lose no information. Missler believed the same to be true about scripture; the Bible’s entire message, he claimed, is embedded in its every verse.
Perhaps a perfect demonstration of that biblical “holographic principle” can be found in the saga of Israel’s winemakers, whose recent struggles, achievements and attitudes seem to exactly mirror their homeland’s.
“How good and beautiful it will be!” proclaimed the prophet Zechariah of the Restoration. “Grain will make the young men thrive and new wine the virgin women.”
But Zechariah’s vision of new wine (and a new Israel) perhaps never seemed more unlikely in man’s eyes than in the seventh century AD. The region was called Muslim “Palestine” and was under an Islamic prohibition relegating Jews to second-class citizens. Islamic law permitted grapes to be grown only to be eaten, not fermented and, except for a brief span during the Crusades, wine remained banned in the Land under Ottoman rule into the 19th century.
Wine is mentioned 183 times in the Tanach. Twenty mentions, by far the most of any book, are found in Isaiah who, though a prophet to Judah, had much to say about the collapse of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Thirteen mentions of wine are found in Jeremiah, who witnessed the end of sovereign ancient Israel, Judah’s fall to Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon in 586 BCE.
The third most mentions of wine in scripture, 12, are found in the Book of Genesis. Thus wine is mentioned most prominently during two critical epochs, the beginning of Time itself and the falls of both Israel and Judah.
They’ll come trembling from the west
Today there are almost 300 wineries in Israel, many of which have received worldwide recognition and prestigious awards. Perhaps you will recognize the names of the biggest; Carmel, Barkan, Golan Heights, Tishbi, Dalton, Teperberg, Galil Mountain…but Israel is also home to about 250 small, “boutique” enterprises, each accessible, inviting, fascinating and worthwhile, most certainly because the wines they produce are exceptional but, more importantly, also because each vintner’s story, as in Missler’s holographic analogy, is no more nor less than an account of the entire Restoration.
When Marcia and I immigrated to Israel we did not “hit the ground running” in travel and touring. For a number of practical reasons, we simply settled into a comfortable apartment in Jerusalem’s Rechavia, in unwitting compliance with the Lord’s promise…
“They will walk after Adonai. He will roar like a lion. Indeed, He will roar and the children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like a bird out of Egypt, like a dove out of the land of Assyria, and I will settle them in their houses. It is a declaration of Adonai.(Hos 11:10-11)
Despite an admitted bit of trembling now and then, we have, over time, visited Tel Aviv, the Galilee, the Golan, Haifa and some truly fascinating venues in and around Jerusalem. On many occasions during those visits we were absolutely regaled by many Israeli wine workers and vintners, a different breed to be sure. In future posts, I’ll share some of their more interesting stories.
This post first appeared in essentially the same form in my blog at http://Messianictimes.com