Flourishing Once AgainMay 25, 2022 - 12:00 am
Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit. — Leviticus 26:20
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Bechukotai, which means “My decrees,” from Leviticus 26:3–27:34.
Have you ever looked at pictures of the land of Israel from a century ago? I recently bought a beautiful and unique book of photographs of Israel. The book is called Israel Rising by Christian author and journalist Doug Hershey. Each page features two photos side by side. One is a photo from the late 19th or early 20th centuries . Then, right next to that picture is a photo from today, of the exact same place taken from the same distance and angle.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is certainly true looking at these side-by-side photos. Most of the old pictures show a desolate landscape, bare mountains and valleys, hardly a building in sight. And then right next to that desolate landscape is the same land today — with flourishing fields, orchards, and forests. Populous cities fill the spaces where emptiness once reigned.
The impact of these pictures is stunning. My heart fluttered each time I turned a new page and the rebirth of the land in our times unfolded before me in living colour.
Flourishing Once Again
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about God’s promised punishments of the Jewish people, should they stray from Him. One of these curses pertains to the land itself: “…your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.”
As I read the Torah portion, I couldn’t help but think back to the photo book I just told you about. During the centuries of our exile, the land of Israel remained mostly desolate. But ever since the Jewish people returned home, God’s Promised Land, is flourishing once again.
Maybe this is a hidden blessing in God’s curse. The fact that the land of Israel itself came back to life only when the Jewish people returned is just one more sign of God’s eternal love for His children.
Your turn: Set aside some prayer time to praise God for keeping His promises to the people of Israel.