Yirecho (Jericho) was a fortified city, the first one our people encountered for real when entering the Land. It stood as a representative fortress and bastion against the people of G-d and the truth they held in their lives, and in the Ark they carried before them. It was not that the shofar blasts caused the walls to tumble, nor yet the seven times walking around the perimeter, (although the links to the sheva b’rachot and the marriage to the Land are wonderful themes to consider). No, what caused the walls to fall was the power of covenantal faithfulness in the face of stubborn rejection. Had the inhabitants accepted the rule of G-d and ‘crossed over’ to join with the people of G-d, His nation, then Life would have been theirs too.
What do we learn from this? Like the city of Yirecho, we can all build high walls to stop the Lord from coming in and showing His faithfulness to us. It’s so often way more comfortable to hide behind these defences and think all is well, nothing can change and the status quo will be maintained. And it’s not just personal walls we hide behind. What intrigues me more in these days are the institutional and religious walls that so many are hiding behind. I suspect that it may (I hope I’m wrong!) take many more shofar blasts of truth and revelation yet before some of these walls begin to fall, yet we are nevertheless seeing in our day signs that change is coming to what most people would call Judaism. I say most people because the hegemony of some sections of the faith over school book photos and media domination obscures for many the actual vibrancy and fluidity of what Judaism is, and can be, all about today.
One such example again found a small space to shine this last week in the Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/…/New-Moishe-House-creates-pluralistic…). While there are many aspects to this movement that are open to question, this is not the point that needs to be made. The fact THAT this kind of spontaneous bursting out, away from traditional concepts of the Jewish faith, is happening at all is noteworthy. There is a growing hunger for real Jewish spiritual reality, not borrowing from other faiths (although sadly that is happening too) but a desire to know G-d, and yet not through the traditional channels. I will let a few quotes speak for themselves: “It’s a Jewish community, and when we have non-Jews come for Friday night dinner, it shows them the warm, open, embracing side of Judaism,” ……. “Moishe House deals with Judaism in a pluralistic way and, I think, is special and rare.” ….. “The idea of Moishe House is to make a connection to Judaism, and to make it fun” …..
“We create fun activities around the Jewish calendar. Moishe House allows you to do something positive and challenging in your life.”
The walls of our most ancient and glorious of faith have been a wonderful protection for us for over 2000 years, yet like all walls at some point the positive protective function begins to outweigh the need for renewal, and that can only happen when the gates are opened. Like the above movement, Messianic Judaism is exploring the borders and spiritual topography of a renewed form and structure of Judaism: a Judaism that is G-d centred, Messiah focussed and Spirit filled. Before the presence of the Ark of G-d the walls of that ancient city fell prostrate. G-d’s presence is able to bring down that which has served its purpose well but has now outlived its function, both personally and institutionally. HIS truth will prevail, and the exciting signs are that our people want that too!