A Shana Tova and The Great Divide

The election saga in Israel continues.  A week ago, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued the challenge to the present Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to attempt to form a coalition government.  The reasoning behind his decision was simply that the Likud Party, of which the Prime Minister is the leader, held a slim one-seat majority in coalition partnerships over Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White Party.  The margin was 55-54.  Neither leader had a majority of the Knesset, which is 61 seats.  Thus, Netanyahu needs to find an additional 6 members to join his coalition.  Making this pathway difficult is the decision of those aligned with the Blue and White Party that they would not join a Netanyahu-led coalition. 


Of concern is the threat of an impending indictment against the Prime Minister for corruption.  This possible indictment should be handed down sometime in October.  Thus the difficulty.  If Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition government at the end of four-weeks, then President Rivlin has three options: 1) he can invite Benny Gantz to attempt to form a coalition government; I believe this is highly likely; or 2) he can invite someone else to attempt to form a coalition government, but no one really knows who might quality for such an invitation; or 3) he can call for another national election, which is really not something desirable for the country.  One would wonder if a third election would have any different results than the one held this past April and September.  So, keep listening and watching the political scenery in Israel. 


This past Sunday evening into Monday was Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  It is now the year 5780.  In Leviticus 23:23-25 we read, "The LORD said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites: "On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.  Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire."  So, once again the cycle of Torah Readings will be renewed - a cycle that takes a person through the first five books of the Old Testament over the course of 52 weeks.  Ten days later, this year it will be October 9/10, is the celebration of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, one of the highest, holiest days in all of Judaism.  It is a day of national and personal confession of sins.  (Note: you might remember that it was on the day of Yom Kippur in 1973 that Arab armies launched an attack upon Israel, resulting in what is known today as the Yom Kippur War; which, by the way, Israel won decisively).  Four days later, there will be the Feast of Sukkot, we know it as the Feast of Tabernacles.  So, October is a month of reflection and celebration for our Jewish friends.  It is not too late to wish them a "shana tova", which means "the year is good", wish.


Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover in China.  Throughout those 70 years, the world has witnessed the brutalization of a people by their leaders.  It is estimated that during those 70 years over 100 million Chinese have died.  This is something that has never been seen or heard in the annals of world history before.  Now we are seeing a glimmer of hope as the people living in Hong Kong are revolting for a democratic Hong Kong.  You will remember that it was in 1997 that Great Britain handed over Hong Kong to the Chinese after years of negotiations.  The spirit of democracy by which Hong Kong had been governed for many centuries, was not destroyed, but simply went into hibernation.  Now it has been aroused.  Young people are carrying the banner of democracy everywhere.  Will the Chinese government put down this revolt with the same brutality that was used in Tiananmin Square in 1989?  Will the spirit residing within the hearts of those living in Hong Kong prevail?  Could what is happening in Hong Kong be the beginning of the tearing down of the Bamboo Curtain as was the destruction of the Berlin Wall  the beginning of the collapse of the Iron Curtain?  This is certainly an area of the world that should be not ignored.


And the political "zoo" continues in Washington.  Real problems are not only not being resolved, they are not even being debated or discussed.  The growing lack of respect for our law-enforcement officers has reached alarming proportions.  Yet, no one in Washington seems to care about this fact.  The homeless crisis has become epidemic within our inner cities.  People are living in squalor as if our cities had become third-world countries.  Alcohol and drug addiction have escalated to the place where even some type of intervention does not seem to be enough.  Instead of working on these problems, the focus of our leaders is on impeaching a president, or leaking private phone conversations that he has with other world leaders, and of creating an atmosphere of hostility within the chambers of government.  The partisan divide is ever widening.  As one commentator expressed it, "We are living on the cusp of another civil war." 


As I look out over the landscape of our world, I am so grateful that God is in control.  Yesterday in our staff devotions, I shared from Psalm 11.  David begins with a great statement of hope: "In the LORD I take refuge."  Wow!  I like that!  then in verse 3 he declares, "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?"  What a probing question!  All around us we see the continued disintegration of the moral foundations and fabric upon which our nation was birthed.  What should be our response?  Should it be one of despair and pessimism?  I believe David answers his own question in the very next verse: "The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.  He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them."  When the foundations are being destroyed, what are the righteous to do?  They are to remember that God is still on His throne!  God is still governing over the affairs of men!  That is cause for a "Hallelujah!" moment!  I needed to be reminded of that, and probably you do as well.  We all do!

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