Israel Study Tour with The Kings University

October 27 - November 8, 2016

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The Sign of Jonah As Never Seen Before

“You can all get in the water!” announced Rod, our tour Rabbi. Immediately, I lost my shoes, socks, and iPhone, thankfully. I made my way carefully through the rocky river side, only to realize the rocks never stop once you get in the water, you just can’t see them. The current got stronger, about thigh deep, but with poor footing it is a constant balancing act. I stumbled into a spider-like position, and discovered it quite convenient if I moved sideways. I dipped my head in the water in self-baptism, my whole body submerged. I yelled underwater, “Lord cleanse me!” knowing my cry would remain private.

Two of our guys had made it to the other side, and were inviting us to “cross the Jordan.” I saw the meaning of that and excitedly moved sideways and crossed the Jordan too! No doubt generations of Jews before me laughed in heaven seeing my innovative spiderman cross. I made sure I got out of the water to claim a full crossing.

After crossing back, I stayed in the water at the shore. By then others were being baptized a few feet away. Then one closer to me asked me to baptize her. Wow! “What an honor!” I thought to myself. I led her to assume my spiderman position, and I prayed for her as she came up from the water. Mine was a priestly prayer. As living water makes people clean by infusing life and washing away death, so I prayed for her mind, eyes, mouth and ears, heart, hands and feet to be cleansed and infused with life. She loved it! Then another one came to be baptized. And another. And then a fourth one. The zeal, fire, urgency and prophetic tone of my prayers for them surprised even me.

I got out and walked to our bus. I was so peaceful. Serene. How can raging waters result in peace? The sign of Jonah. Stay with me and I tell you what I mean.

Later in the afternoon, as the sun weakened, we arrived at Jericho. The road up to Jerusalem from Jericho is a steep ascent and a narrow path. Worshipers since ancient times went up this rout on their way to the temple for the feasts. As they went, they sang the Psalms of Ascent, comprised of Psalms 120 to 134. Unlike the worshipers, we hiked in silence. Rod asked us to meditate on Yeshua going up to Jerusalem one last time, to be crucified. As He reached the temple, multitudes received Him to shouts of “Hoshiana,” “Save us!” But the praising voices of the multitudes in just a few days would turn into raging waters. And He would become the Sign of Jonah…

Jericho

The “City of Palms” spreads out on the west side of the Jordan River at 825 feet below sea level. In Jesus’ day a new center had been constructed on the wadi banks in the foreground by the Hasmonean rulers and Herod the Great.

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The beautiful Jerusalem sky greeted us as we arrived at our hotel. We showered and ate, and headed to the remains of the absolute most holy place on earth —the Western Wall. I said, “Lord, I need to be infused with your life, with your Word before approaching your place.” He gave me Psalm 104:

Psa. 104:5
He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever.
6
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters were standing above the mountains.
7
At Your rebuke they fled,
At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
8
The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
To the place which You established for them.
9
You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
So that they will not return to cover the earth.

My takeaway was, “A word from God rebukes the raging waters.” See a developing theme?

I asked to Lord to give me a word at the Kotel, the Wall. After arriving there, I ritually washed my hands at the water fountain, like I learned from my very first Rabbi fifteen years ago. I approached slowly, contemplative, again wondering, as I did my first time almost four years ago, when was the last time my Spanish Jewish ancestors, forced into Catholicism, were at that very Wall. I got to the Wall and found a spot. I took my glasses off and leaned my head, touching it with my hands, as if embracing it. I felt like the man in Yeshua’s story who couldn’t even raised his eyes to heaven, but prayed, beating his chest and saying, “Forgive me, Lord, for I am a sinner.” All I could say under my breath was “Atah Kadosh! Atah Kadosh, Abba!” “You are Holy! You are Holy, Father!” Then I switched “Atah Kadosh. Ani Lo.” You are Holy, I am not.” Tears ran down. A feeling of wholeness filled me. His word to me was, “I give you the sign of Jonah. Under my wings you are complete, you are healed, you are not an orphan.”

The sign of Jonah begins with Noah, as Rod taught us. Noah sent a dove into the raging waters of the abyss. The Hebrew word for dove? Jonah. The sign of Jonah is, then, that the Son of Man would be thrown into the raging waters… and calm would come three days later. That’s what happened with Jonah. That’s what happens with us too. Into raging waters we are all sent. As doves. And He brings calm through us.

May it be so. Selah.

—Joey Benami

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