who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD! —Psalm 113:5-9
There are so many encounters related to this latest trip to your land, Lord—I’m anxious to share them all, but also want to be obedient to your spiritual stirrings. I sense that you too are anxious to share, so I’m going to take the path that is encouraging me most at this moment. You, I’m sure will have more to reveal on the matter as the events unfold.
The reason for my immediate inspiration is due to a book I’m reading, Cup of Salvation, penned by an orthodox Jewish rabbi, Pesach Wolicki. What does the writing have to do with my adventure in Israel? It actually started with my previous trip when our group attended a Bible study organized by the Center for Jewish—Christian Understanding and Cooperation. This unique group, which I’ve spoken of before, is founded by a number of rabbis whose vision is to dialogue with, study deeply and seek common understanding of your word. I was amazed by the first encounter and hungered for our most recent group to form their own opinions of the experience.
Because of scheduling and location challenges, a unique opportunity presented itself. I made contact with Rabbi Pesach (having never met before) and he offered to lead a small group study at the apartment we were staying at in Jerusalem. What a gracious man, you placed in our path, Adonai, how could we refuse such an intimate teaching moment? In a preliminary phone conversation, Pesach asked me, “what would you like me to teach on?”
So many things! I laughed inwardly, but knew we needed to focus our time and so suggested he help us examine prophetic verses in the Tenach concerning the Nations—most often referred to in the Old and New Testaments as Gentiles—and how they shall come to the land, committed to serve the people of Israel.
I heard the man on the other end of the line chuckle slightly and then he replied, “That’s perfect because I recently finished writing a book which includes a great deal about those prophecies.”
Well of course, I mused, you, Spirit, are doing a work, why should I be surprised?
Our study time arrives and Rabbi Pesach knocks on the door. We welcome, him, introduce and then laugh and banter a bit about the strange address of our apartment (we were in unit 208… on the 4th floor of the building). There is an in immediate connection with our group. Sure we have differences: The elephant in the room? Has our Messiah already made himself know in the physical—you Lord Yeshua. But debate on that is not the purpose of this moment—you have something special in mind. Tonight we will share our common desire to understand the roots of your redemption plan for your people.
Pesach offers a great many insights which we eagerly absorb. Are we listening using different filters? Certainly so, that’s the human condition, but what he unpacks includes powerful insight into your sovereign yet personal involvement throughout our past history, our present and our future…
—“The last person to recognize that a miracle is happening,
is him to whom the miracle is happening.”
I’m really beginning to like this guy. While I’m digesting that morsel, he asks what seems an innocent question.
“Can anyone here offer a definition of what a miracle is?”
We all take stabs at the answer. Now I watch the rabbi nod, complementing each on their explanations, and then a smile plays on his lips. You have given this man wisdom I haven’t considered and he’s about to offer it up. My pen is poised and ready to mark the moment.
“A miracle happens when God, who created the natural laws of the universe,
acts outside those laws to produce an un-natural outcome.”
I’m paraphrasing on purpose, Lord because the conversation in that upper-room of ours involved much more back-and-forth, much more testing. The rabbi’s premise was powerful and made such simple sense. It spoke volumes about how we tend to think of miracles as being sometimes normal occurrences directed to help us and others. Sometimes they even seem like random acts, allowed by you. But they are not allowed or accidental at all. Quite the contrary, in order to act outside the predictable order of things, one must have and actively use, the power to act unpredictably… otherwise. That One, the only One who can do that, is you, and therefore, you, Creator of the universe, are involved personally, directly and relationally in every truly miraculous event.
It was at that moment of realization that I perceived perhaps a miracle was happening right then and there. Maybe I was the last of those to realize it. We had come together with beliefs that were similar, but frictionally diverse enough whereby we might very well have sought argument and division as our course. Instead, we had come to agreement. We were of one accord, behaving outside the normal operating parameters of the universe!
A small miracle perhaps: Perhaps not. That’s the other dimension to miracles. They are not for our pleasure or purpose, but yours, Lord. They most certainly demonstrate testimony and can be used to sway the unbeliever, but it would be a mistake to think miracles are only an evangelistic tool.
Your miracles are mysteries of love. There I was, in a room of seekers and you presented yourself in full glory, not because of a word or some special formula of words, but because you desired us to spiritually know…Yadah…you, and each other, better.
Pesach was so generous with his time and passion for you—thank you, Teacher-of-all for instilling that purpose in him. Thank you for the miracle of all those people being in that room at that moment, for that is one more subtle truth about miracles. They sometimes look like conveniences—that’s probably why we don’t always recognize them until long after they occur—but you had to alter the natural laws for us to be there, I have no doubt. I know how miraculous was my own attendance and your effort that went into arranging the appointed time.
Which brings me to another realization about miracles. Once recognized—late or early on—I need to respond to their power, react to your intervention, worship and praise the enactor. OK, I don’t need to, but I should want to. Why would I not want to sing that song of appreciation? After all, miracle, in the Hebrew language is a verb. It is active so it might inspire activity by its receiver. I suppose then, Lord, the true nature of our fellowship, you and I, me and my brothers and sisters and neighbors, is one of Miracling.
So now perhaps, the readers of this blog will understand the connection of Rabbi Pesach’s book to our encounter. Cup of Salvation is a commentary on the Hallel (Praise) Psalms (113 through 118). I’m not going to shamelessly plug the rabbi’s writings; that is his job (and I risk that bit of comedy, believing I have now come to know the man at least enough to recognize we share a sense of ironic humor). I pray to and appreciate you Lord, for continuing to weave small and great miracles into our lives, joining us together for your greater miracle unfolding…your kingdom come.
(Released with permission of Rab. Pesach Wolicki)