Coming from a land that never stops to a land that makes a weekly stop can come as a surprise to many visitors to Israel.
Yesterday we descended into Tiberias late Friday afternoon. Yehuda, our Messianic Jewish guide, told us that Tiberias is a religious Jewish city. The streets were already quiet when our bus rolled into town. Yehuda reminds us frequently that shopping is not important when visiting Israel, but despite his admonition, some of the ladies had been discussing where to shop inTiberias. (Names will be withheld to protect the guilty.) To the Jews, the new day starts at sundown so with Sabbath approaching, the stores were already closed and would remain so until sundown Saturday. Sadly, the shopping would have to wait. (Did I just implicate myself there…?)
Yehuda told us that Jews consider that Sabbath starts when “you can see three stars in the sky with the naked eye.” This is the time, rather than sundown, when the women begin to light the Sabbath candles. (So really, the familiar Fiddler on the Roof song, “Sunrise, Sunset” should really be named “Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star.”) In the Messianic community, however, when they light the Sabbath candles, they acknowledge that “Yeshua is the light of the world.” Amen! Many Jews check into a hotel for the Sabbath. That way they are freed from doing any work, like cooking, cleaning and pushing elevator buttons. There is a special Sabbath elevator with preset buttons that stops automatically at every floor. This enables the religious Jew to avoid doing any work on the Sabbath. This elevator is clearly labeled in English “Sabbath elevator.” Astute tourists only ride this elevator once before they quickly learn to ride the non-Sabbath elevators.
After the Sabbath was over, Yehuda arranged for us to visit the jewelry store. Not just any jewelry store, this was the National Diamond Center. Israel is known for manufacturing the highest quality diamonds in the world because of its ability to produce diamonds with 58 facets. My daughter and I held a 3 carat diamond in our hands with a price tag of $125,000. We walked away without a diamond knowing that Jesus, the Light of the world, our Sabbath Rest, and our Rock is more valuable and priceless than any diamond man can produce.
Sent from Geneva’s iPad, Tiberias, Israel