Sustained for His Glory

Reflections by a Messianic IDF Soldier on Israel's Memorial and Independence Day Holidays

By Travis Snow
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Posted in Jewish HolidaysYom Ha-Atzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, on February 22nd, 2018

Given the central role played by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) throughout Israel’s modern history, I recently took the opportunity to interview Dan A., a former soldier in the IDF. In doing so, I gained a deeper inside perspective on Israel’s Memorial Day (Yom Ha’Zikaron) and Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut).

Dan is from central Israel, but is currently working on his seminary degree in the U.S. He served in the IDF from 2006-2009, and offered many keen insights into this holiday from both a military and a Messianic Jewish point of view.

Growing up in a small suburb in the Sharon region, Dan shared that his childhood memories related to Yom Ha’Zikaron and Yom’Ha’atzmaut centered around events in the town center, memorials to the soldiers, somber TV documentaries, and sad songs on the radio–all followed by fireworks, barbeques, festivals, and cotton candy.

When I asked him how his specific service in an intelligence unit in the IDF changed his perception of these holidays, he said, “being in uniform during those days did give these holidays a special atmosphere,” and a sense of deeper meaning.

He went on to explain what might be described as the paradox of modern Israel’s daily existence, noting how, “despite what happens every day on Israel’s borders, and the threats that the IDF and security forces are continually having to deal with, the IDF basically creates a security bubble for the people to live in.” Consequently, said Dan, the average Israeli who is working and attending to their day to day life, “lives in a bubble and cannot fathom how much evil intent is out there.” Serving in the IDF helped him see a much clearer picture of the role the security forces play in Israel’s day to day survival, which added more “value to the ceremonies.”

The appreciation the nation feels for its soldiers was further highlighted during the interview when Dan referenced a famous Israeli poem, The Silver Platter, by Nathan Alterman. This poem is traditionally associated with Yom Ha’Zikaron, and tells the story of a people who are “heartsick, but still living,” standing by to “greet the uniqueness of the miracle,” while being “wrapped in awesome joy.”

Then, “a girl and boy step forward, and slowly walk before the waiting nation.” They are “unwashed, weary to death, not knowing rest,” yet youthful. When the people stare at them and ask “who are you, the silent two?,” the two youths reply, “we are the silver platter upon which the Jewish state was served to you.”

Commenting further on the meaning of the poem, Dan noted how there is a sense in Israel that the nation was born and lives through its military, who are, in the words of Dan, mostly comprised of nothing more than “kids, young men, and young women…”

As Dan and I continued discussing the IDF, however, he also noted how as a Messianic believer, he strives to keep a more balanced perspective on the role of the IDF in Israel’s national history and survival. He mentioned that even as a Zionist, he believes there can be a mistaken sense in Israel in which the “IDF is sometimes extolled in place of G-d, and the the pride of the Jewish people is rooted” more in what he called, the “armed Jew who can defend himself, the armed Jews who have worked the Land and made the Land prosperous,” than the One who has kept the nation alive for nearly 4,000 years. In this way, Dan presented a clarifying perspective on how, as a Messianic believer, he often grieves that so many of his fellow citizens “are either indifferent or ignorant of G-d’s part in” the “miracle” of Modern Israel.

Perhaps the key takeaway from my interview with this future leader of the Messianic movement in Israel is this: In celebrating Israel’s national independence since 1948, let us ultimately give praise to the G-d of Israel, who has created and sustained the Jewish people for His Glory.

 

Travis Snow is a devoted follower of Yeshua and husband to his wife Tali. He is also the president and founder of Voice of Messiah, a non-profit ministry committed to reaching Jewish people with the Gospel and helping the Church understand God’s purposes for Israel. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, hiking, and watching European soccer. To read more of Travis’ writing, go to www.voiceofmessiah.com


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