Purim amid coronavirus

As the coronavirus seems to be the first and foremost on everybody’s mind these days, here’s a little update from Israel amid the aftermath of elections and the feast of Purim, with a few prayer points.

As of Friday, there are 125 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel. Most of the diagnosed patients contracted it while traveling abroad. In efforts to stop the virus from spreading, Israel has chosen to take more drastic steps than many other countries of the world. Since 9 March, a mandatory 14-day quarantine was decreed for everyone arriving in Israel from abroad, citizens and foreigners alike. The measure is in force for two weeks and will then be re-evaluated. Public gatherings are limited to 100 people, while most international flights and conferences have also been cancelled, heavily impacting Israel’s tourism sector, which is around 5% of the GDP. All schools and universities have been closed until after the Passover holiday. Businesses, public authorities and other organizations have been advised to look into possibilities for providing employees opportunities to work from home.

Despite the dangers of contracting the disease, there was a very high turnout 71,5% at Israel’s parliamentary elections last week. The 23rd Knesset is scheduled to be sworn in on 16 March. President Reuven Rivlin has until 17 March to task a candidate with forming the next government. Somewhat of a legal conundrum is presented, as the first hearing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on corruption charges will be held on the same day. The Likud leader is currently engaged in efforts to form an emergency national unity government with his rivals specifically to combat COVID-19.

In the meantime, Israel celebrated the Purim holiday, commemorating the thwarting of Haman’s genocidal plot and the miraculous salvation of the Jewish nation, as described in the Biblical Book of Esther. As it is one of the happiest Jewish holidays, it is customary for people to dress into costumes, send gifts of food and attend special parties and carnivals. The holiday is appealing to children and parents did not want to deprive their offspring of the joyous occasion so many defied the threat of the virus to celebrate, although perhaps in a more subdued manner. The streets of Jerusalem were still full of holiday makers dressed as animals, angels, ballerinas, superheroes and the like. And due to the novel virus, face masks and surgical outfits were added to the mix. Other than that, face masks have not yet become prevalent in Israel.

What else can we see or feel in our daily lives? The first row of seats in buses have been blocked in efforts to protect the drivers from close contact with potential virus-bearers. A friend of mine who observed a self-imposed 2-week isolation as a precaution was actually happy for the off-time she could spend resting and reflecting. Thus, as always in our culture of contradictions and contrasts – to some it may be a curse, for others a blessing.

So, what are we to make of it all? What might God be saying amid all of it? How should we pray?

As some prophetic voices in Jerusalem point out, God warned about the the coming shakings and shiftings already last year.  But as Rick Ridings, Director of the Succat Hallel prayer house related, He also said: “Do not be afraid of the chaos in the times of the shakings. But know that through these shakings, I will bring forth My kingdom which cannot be shaken.” So, pray for protection, of course, and for victory over this pestilence, according to Psalm 91, but pray also for harvest and for God’s Kingdom to be revealed in a greater measure.

Since ours are the times where society might deem you guilty until proven innocent, and there seem to be a lot of conflicting info and narratives flying around, the truth may have fallen in the streets (Isaiah 59:14. Actually, it won’t hurt to read the whole chapter, as it depicts this postmodern world quite well). Therefore, we are encouraged to cry out for truth, justice and righteousness. We could ask God to accelerate the forthcoming of truth in a clear and provable manner. We can pray for the restoration of godly judges; that the judiciary and decisionmakers would not be influenced by rumors, stories and mainstream media, but would search out the facts for themselves. That the truth would prevail, and that Israel would receive a government according to God’s own heart.

Other than that, TV7 Jerusalem Office is alive and well, and continues work as usual. Thank you for all your prayers and support! And as always, continue your appeals to the heavenly courts for the peace of Jerusalem and for the peace and salvation of Israel!

 

By: Monika  Jaaguri