Ebola & the Hajj

Day 6:  Article about Ebola

aNNa’S NoTe:  My friend Stephanie posted the following article on her FB (I think she got it from SurvivalBlog, but I don’t imbibe, so I don’t know for sure).  Anyhow, please read this, because it’s something I *NEVER* considered, and once I read the article, my jaw just dropped.

—Last year more than two million Muslims from all over the world performed hajj, or travel to Mecca, to participate in the Muslim rituals there. People are in close contact, often shoulder to shoulder and even stepping on each other, for several days as they go through several rituals of hajj. When the hajj is over, these people return to their homes in dozens of countries across the globe.

Click to enlarge, to see just how massive this is.

This year 70,000 Nigerians will travel to Mecca, despite that country having more than a dozen confirmed cases of Ebola Zaire, with over 300 suspected of exposure to the deadly virus.

Saudi Arabia insists they have taken the necessary precautions to prevent any problems with Ebola. Yeah, right. …While their medical care is far better than West Africa, that’s only because they hire European and American doctors and nurses to staff their hospitals and clinics. Left to themselves, the Saudis are not much better than West African society, when it comes to healthy habits. (Just go out into the desert and attend a “goat grab”– a feast with goat and huge mounds of rice as the main course; it’s great food but lousy hygiene.) In the downtown markets, they’ll hang a steel or aluminum cup on a chain at the water fountain, and almost everyone who drinks at the fountain uses the cup. No one washes or sanitizes it.

So, think about 70,000 people from a country with an emerging Ebola crisis traveling to a place where millions of people are concentrated into a few square miles, for days. If even a handful of those 70,000 Nigerians have been exposed to Ebola, they’ll be eating, sleeping, and walking around the Kaaba stone with all these people, and when it’s all over, potentially hundreds or even thousands of people exposed to the Ebola virus then board planes and travel back to their homes in countries all over the world, many if not most before any Ebola symptoms begin to show.

The possibilities make Hollywood movies, like Outbreak and Contagion, look miniscule by comparison. This graphic shows the hajj ritual, which includes a lot of “rubbing elbows” with the other hajjis.

Now, having said all that, having lived and traveled in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, I believe that our American health care system is still one of the best in the world (even after Obamacare), and we’d have the best chance of any nation in containing Ebola once it reaches our shores. Still, the entirely possible scenario I just outlined could overwhelm even a robust healthcare system like ours.

There’s lots of information on the Internet about Ebola, how to prevent transmission, sanitization, and so forth; just use any search engine. The same information can be used to prepare for virtually any pandemic; Ebola has the headlines now but so does a mystery respiratory virus spreading across the U.S. from which I just recently recovered. The CDC’s website has lots of excellent information about pandemic preparedness; for very deadly things, like Ebola, just assume they’re low-balling the numbers, when it comes to infectiousness. (We can’t go telling the real truth and scaring the public now, can we?)

It could be that this all blows over (I almost said “dies out”, but that would be grossly inappropriate) in a few or several months and never reaches the U.S. I hope and pray that’s true. However, if it does reach the U.S., be informed and prepared; it’s not hard and not that expensive. If you do, you’ll be ahead of 99.9% of the rest of the country who’ve been too busy watching the latest reality show or glued to their smart phones.

aNNa’S FooTNoTe:  I went off to find out when this ‘hajj’ takes place.  Are you ready for it?  October 1st thru 6th.  In other words, it frames Yom Kippur.  But that’s really neither here nor there.  Can you imagine the ramifications?  By October 1st, how many more cases will there be in Nigeria, compared to the number now?  It’s mind-blowing.

New Testament Study Series



Chapter 13: Government Systems

This chapter is the shortest one that we’ve had, so far… only fourteen verses.  Which means it’s short and sweet.  Which is very nice, I must say.  That’s not to say there isn’t a lot here.  Shall we?

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.   Romans 13: 1

This is pretty cut and dried.  It says you obey the law/rulers.  God put them in charge for a reason.  If He didn’t want them there, they wouldn’t *BE* there.  Which you know is true.  His ways are higher than our ways.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  Romans 13:2

0001Here’s what it says:  Resisting rulers ► Resisting God ► Damnation.

Now… I’m an American.  We have kind of a mindset that we’re born into, over here, and that’s that rulers are subject to the people, and if they’re crap, we throw them out on their hineys.  ‘A well-armed militia’, etc.  You know what I’m talking about.  Our founding fathers, for pity’s sakes, resisted the power of England and that’s how we won freedom.  Everyone knows the story.  Everyone embraces that mindset, over here.  And by the way, it’s UNSCRIPTURAL.  Was it wrong for us to have rebelled against England?  I’m torn.  It wasn’t really the power over the United States.  France had a hold here, too… and the colonists had their own powers.  It’s got a lot of gray area.  The American in me screams, “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM!!  LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!”

Okay… now let’s look at a few other instances, though.  Moses’ Israelite nation in Egypt.  They were enslaved, they were oppressed, they outnumbered the Egyptians.  Did they rise up and fight for freedom?  Did they rebel and resist?  They didn’t.  Pharoah was in charge and was oppressing them for a reason… so Yehovah’s power could be demonstrated to Israel, so that they would trust in Him, turn to Him, follow Him, and come out on HIS terms, with HIS delivery.

Let’s look at one more instance… Jewish people in Nazi Germany.  The Jews outnumbered the Nazis in the camps.  Did they resist?  Did they fight, rise up and push back against the regime?  They didn’t.  Hitler was put in place and attempted genocide for a reason – because Yehovah wanted to remind the world that the Jews are HIS people, and that you cannot wipe them out.  While the other ancient Middle Eastern people groups have gone, while other tribes have come and gone… Israel has remained.

So I guess my question is… by rebelling against England, did the American’s take a victory out of God’s hands?  Did they resist God in doing so?  Did they show that they didn’t trust Ha’Shem to liberate them… so they had to do it, themselves?  Would God have helped those who called on Him, if they had turned to Him instead of doing it themselves?  Food for thought.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  Romans 13:3

Let’s be honest.  MOST of the rules that we have adhere to are to protect people, to catch evil people before they bring bad things down on good folk.  True, in our day and age, there are fast becoming more nonsense rules and red tape… and the reason for that is to make money (for them, naturally).  But that’s not our problem.  As long as you do good, you’ve got nothing to fear.  I will admit, that my heart knows this, but my head rebels HUGELY.  I don’t like the lack of justice I see.  It’s a personal struggle.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  Romans 13:4-5

0002Scripture says that God uses rulers to punish evil.  We’ve seen this a LOT in the Old Testament stories… where Asa disobeys/distrusts God, so He sends armies to plague Asa.  When Reheboam disobeyed God and did evil, Egypt came up and plundered Israel.  When Israel was taking captive to Babylon, it was for the SAME amount of time that they didn’t allow the land to rest… so God used Babylon to give His promised land the ‘rest’ that Israel didn’t!  Can you think of any other examples?

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.  Romans 13:6-7

Ah, the topic of taxes.  We ALL know it’s outrageous, what they tax us for.  Heck, I pay school tax… and I choose not to send my kids to their schools!!! And they STILL make me pay for their sub-standard system!!  You don’t want to get me started about taxes.  But Scripture says to pay taxes.  So I pay taxes.  I hate it, but I do it.  And not because I want to… because it says to.  We dutifully obey.  While praying for a rapture… so that taxes won’t be an ISSUE, anymore.  ((Although I have to be honest:  Gov’t gives me a child tax credit every year for each of our five children.  I take that child tax credit and put it away, and use it to pay for our taxes.  So technically, the gov’t is paying my taxes.  So Yehovah has kind of blessed us in our obedience.  The principle of the thing grinds me, but because Ha’Shem understands that, He provides.  So there’s a silver lining even to the tax cloud.))

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  Romans 13:8

0003Now we’re switching gears from the physical (or earthly) government  stuff to the spiritual (or heavenly) government.  While we should not physically owe the gov’t on earth taxes/obedience… on the flip side, we shouldn’t owe our fellow man love/nurturing.  And here I go again, defining love for you, because one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is that people talk about this vague thing they think is love, when what they’re really talking about is luvvv.

You want to know what the definition of love is?  Turn in your Bible to Mark 12:30.  It says to love, and then tells you what that entails:  nurturing others Relationally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically.  Heart, soul, mind, strength.  It’s not a warm n’ fuzzy feeling, it’s encouraging growth.  If you aren’t nurturing people, you owe them a debt, according to Romans.  That’s (frankly) the purpose of this site – I’m trying to nurture people intellectually and spiritually.  My Facebook is for relational nurturing.  Physical?  You’re on your own – I’m too far away.

 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  Romans 13:9-10

0004Here’s something really fun.  Of the ‘Ten Commandments’, FIVE of them are listed, here.  Why only five?  Well, if you’ll turn to Exodus 20 and take a look at the first ten of the 613 commandments, you’ll see that obedience to the first five is directed at Yehovah, and obedience to the last five is directed toward mankind.  Do you see that?  ((Yes, I know you think ‘Honor thy father and mother’  is man-directed, but the rest of it clarifies that this is about a right relationship with God, even MORE than with man.))  So Paul is giving the five out of ten that we are to do for man.  He also wraps up this section by quoting Mark 12:31, which follows the ‘definition of love’ verse.  And I should probably add that you love your neighbor AS YOURSELF… which means you have to nurture yourself in those four areas BEFORE you’re able to nurture others that way.  I’ve written about this, before.  A lot.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.   The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  Romans 13:11-12a

0005Aw, dagnabbit!  I forgot to highlight the verse in my journal!  ((Well, pretend they’re highlighted, I’ll do that when I’m done typing this up.))  This section is called “TIME IS NEAR!!”  Make a little list of all the different ways Paul says this.  I think he’s excited about it.  Do you think he’s excited about it?  *I* am excited about it.  Which got me to thinking… it’s been almost 2000 years since this was written.  That… doesn’t seem near, Paul.  But he’s not talking about the end, he’s talking about the time in our OWN lives.  It makes a difference.  But this announcement is to spur us to action.  We have only a little while before our light (let your light so shine in the darkness?  Matthew 5:16?) goes out here on earth, so wake up now!  Do the following!  And then Paul gives us a list of to-dos… a-Gain:

Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.   Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  Romans 13:12-13

0006You know what to do:  Make a list, take a look at it.  Note the following:

 1.  It doesn’t say to put on the Ephesians 6 armor.  It says to put on the armor of light.  Please don’t decide what Paul means for him.

2.  As in the day is a reference to visibility – you can see it.  It’s public.

3.  Fighting is a waste of time and energy.  Drunk is not kewl.  The Bible says so.  Hot promiscuous sex is also a negative.  Get a life, get a wife.  (1 Corinthians 7:9)  Strife would be what we today call ‘drama’.  Get it OUT of your life… it’s just going to distract you and make you miserable.  Envy is pretty self-explanatory and pointless… and has to do with materialism.

GEEZ… is it me, or is this list more for OUR day than Paul’s?  Or is it like Solomon says, ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’?  Probably.  He *was* the wisest man, ever.  He would know.

But put ye on the [Messiah Yeshua], and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.  Romans 13:14

We are to be like (put on) Messiah – to live like Christ.  Because once you give yourself over to God by way of the Son?  You have important things to do.


Day Five:  Bible Journal Page

Accompanying study to post at 7:07pm, tonight.


Snapshot Sunday

Day Four:  Happy Anniversary to Us!

Guess what today is?
It’s our EIGHTEENTH anniversary!
Well… we were together two years before that,
(six months ‘just friends’, six months dating,
and a year long engagement to plan a wedding.)
so actually it’s been 20 years Brian & I have been together.

I’d say I hope for another 20 to come, but…
I’d really rather be raptured.  With him, preferably.
But you already knew that, right?

In the meantime, there’s nobody I’d rather be with.
I love you deeply, wholly, truly, honey.

Ten Days of Awe

Day Three:  Ten Days of Awe

And you thought that we were done counting
now that the month of Elul was over!

Did you know that Rosh Ha’Shana is part of another countdown? Well, it is! The fall feasts don’t stop – they just move seamlessly from one into another. It’s the same thing with the spring feasts – you go directly from Passover into Unleavened Bread and then Firstfruits, and tying them to Shavouth/Pentecost is the Counting of the Omer. Well, we’re doing the same sort of thing here… we go from the 30-day countdown called Elul into Rosh Ha’Shana… and the ten days from Rosh Ha’Shana to Yom Kippur are special, too – they’re known as the “Ten Days of Awe“. Directly after Yom Kippur begins the building of the family sukkot, which leads up to Sukkoth. Another progression from one to another, seamlessly.

You might have noticed the new header at the tops of the posts, the new numbering of blog entries. That’s because there are ten days of… well, ‘awe’ leading up to Yom Kippur. That means we’re on day EIGHT of ten, counting downwards, today. Right now!

Ah, but I know what you’re thinking: what are the Ten Days of Awe? So here’s what I posted in 2003 from JewFAQ.org about the Ten Days of Awe:

The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider sins and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has “books” that He writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die… these books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d’s decree. These “books”are sealed on Yom Kippur.

I was confused: I thought that ELUL was the period of repentance, introspection, and preparation – for Rosh Ha’Shanah. Thirty days of counting down and readying. Now we have ANOTHER period of repentance, introspection, and preparation – for Yom Kippur? Why? It seems like a repetition of what we’ve already done, doesn’t it?

“Celebrating the Biblical Feasts” (M. Zimmerman) says this:

Yom Kippur… comes on the tenth day of Tishri. It is the climax of the Ten Days of Repentance. What was begun on Rosh Ha’Shana is about to be sealed. “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12) This is the day the worshipper stands before [the throne]… bringing himself into harmony with God.

Did you see that? Bringing HIMSELF into harmony with God. Elul prepared THINGS – our homes, cars, wills, relationships, returning things, etc. But these ten days are to prepare OURSELVES. After running around like chickens with our heads cut off, wrapping up everything and preparing our homes and lives, we get this final period of repentance, up to the Day of Judgment/Yom Kippur to center ourselves. From the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha’Shana) for ten days, it’s like the 9th inning – the final chance to get right. Once you hit the end of that period – The Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, it’s sealed. That’s it.

This was confirmed by my other ‘feast’ book. In “God’s Appointed Days”(B. Kasdan), it says:

Yom Kippur has long been considered the most holy day of the Jewish Biblical calendar… for it was on this day… that the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the nation. …Yom Kippur is considered the logical extension of what was started on Rosh Ha’Shana. …Services last most of the day for it is believed that judgment will come at the close of Yom Kippur.

They both said the same thing – that what was STARTED on Rosh Ha’Shana HAPPENS on Yom Kippur. It’s a period building up to the day the Book of Life is sealed up – no more names added! – and Messiah judges His own. Now, I had always thought that Rosh Ha’Shana was the rapture (saints going up) – that’s what christchuns dabbling in Messianic Judaism (and a bunch of Messianics) teach. They all say Rosh Ha’Shana is the rapture, and I believed them. They told me that Yom Kippur was judgment day at a later time (ie., after Armegeddon) for the rest of the people (non-raptured folk) to be judged, and that Sukkot was the start of the Millineum period… eternity with God. But this is NOT true.

I’ve been flashing a chart around a little, here and there. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but here it is, again – click to enlarge (it’s too big to fit on my blog):

(click chart to enlarge)

Please remember that I’m not just plugging these events into whatever slot I feel like – these things, by either scripture or Jewish tradition (sometimes BOTH!) happened ON THESE DAYS! It appears that there is a ‘cycle’ in the Rosh Ha’Shana column… from ‘creation’ to ‘destruction’… I noticed there was a pattern to it that just FIT what all the books (and scripture) presented – and that’s that things don’t HAPPEN on Rosh Ha’Shana… not on *our* plane of existence, anyhow. So here I am, going CRAZY trying to figure out every year why nothing ‘happens’, when nothing is supposed to happen! Not that we can mark/see, anyhow. That’s not the way precedence has it set.

Elul is a 30-day period of external repentance, but the Ten Days of Awe are a 10-day period of internal repentance for the individual. It’s deeper, more serious, more somber. I’m becoming convinced that these ten days are very symbolic, very important – moreso than Elul, even. Elul was the time I got my ‘house’ in order – my world… finances, relationships with others, finished projects, etc. But the Ten Days of Awe see me getting my heart and faith in order. It’s inner preparation – far more weighty than what occurred during Elul. And if you add the 30 day prep to the 10 day prep, what do you get? Forty days. Talk about a number of great weight in the Bible!!

This was originally part of a three-blog series (it’s on my sidebar), but because I learn more every year, things change… and I needed to ‘update’ the thoughts so that they were closer to Truth. I’m growing, learning… and sharing, too!


Tashlich: Casting Sins

Day 2: Casting Sins (Tashlich!)

Tonight is Tashlich.  It’s the second evening of Rosh Ha’Shana, and Tashlich is so much fun.  It’s the part of Rosh Ha’Shanah where the person goes out and throws bread (representing their sin) into the river… based on Ecclesiastes 11:1.   Now… you have to understand something – I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THIS.   At all.  Look at the verse, and you’ll see why”

Eccl. 11:1 – Cast thy bread upon the waters:
for thou shalt find it after many days.

Now forgive me for this, but why on EARTH would I want to cast my bread (sins) upon the waters (God)… so that I can find them again?  That makes NO sense.  So I checked my feast book (I have a feast book to help me learn about these traditions)… and in it, they throw pebbles, instead, as sin is hard and when it’s thrown into the river, the pebbles simply disappear among the other little stones (sins) forever, and we can’t take them back.  THAT I’m good with.  THAT fits better with the idea BEHIND Taslisch, and so when I say to you that when we do Tashlich, we throw PEBBLES to represent our sin, not bread.  Call me weird or blonde, but… I can understand that better.  ((And I don’t care what the Messianics think of me.))

Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

But anyhow, in trying to research this, I found some things I wanted to share.  From OverComerStudy.com:

Cast your WHAT upon the waters? Down home, the only conceivable reason you might cast bread upon the water was if you wanted to feed the catfish or to lure the poor suckers close enough to the bank to net them.

This tidbit of wisdom from the Old Testament, which the collector was referring to in this verse goes back to an ancient practice of sowing seeds (not bread) over flooded fields along the riverbanks, such as the Jordan River. When the rains had come, the river swelled and crested its banks and the low lying fields of the Jordan River valley were well under water, the farmer would get into a boat, row out over his fields and sow his seeds upon the face of the water. To the casual observer or the traveler from distant places who witnessed the farmer casting his seed from the boat, that farmer gave every appearance that his elevator did NOT go all the way to the top! The struggles of the every day process of life had taken their toll and that farmer was now Looney-bin material.

What the Palestinian farmer knew that the concerned traveler did not, was that as the seeds sank to the bottom of the water, the current would deposit a rich silt covering over them, almost guaranteeing that farmer of an excellent harvest. Neat, huh? The next time the conversation begins to lag, you can whip this little nugget out and proceed to wow the socks off everyone. Here is the object lesson. When you chose to become a Christian, you joined the ranks of an elite, faith-walking organization. The God you now live for wants you to believe in Him. He wants you to have FAITH in Him. He expects you to stop leaning on YOUR understanding and depending upon YOUR muscles and YOUR smarts. Climb out on the limb. Step out on faith. Put your weight on His strength. Lean on His insightfulness and His wisdom and upon His knowledge. You may have been the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when you became a Christian, you invited Him to become not only your personal Savior, but the Lord of your life. Now back off and let Him be that. God has an interest in every facet of your life. He has a will and a purpose for you.

Is that not kewl?  I mean, it has NOTHING to do with Taslisch, but it certainly was something I didn’t know or think about… and it’s an excellent lesson, don’tcha think?  Anyhow I just had to share.  And I had to share the funny I found on Taslisch, too… ideas for what bread to throw:

For ordinary sins, use — White Bread
For exotic sins — French or Italian bread
For dark sins — Pumpernickle
For complex sins — Multi-grain
For truly warped sins — Pretzels
For sins of indecision — Waffles
For sins commited in haste — Matzah
For substance abuse — Poppy Seed
For commiting arson — Toast
For being ill-tempered — Sourdough
For silliness — Nut bread
For not giving full value — Short bread
For political chauvinism — Yankee Doodles
For excessive use of irony — Rye Bread
For continual bad jokes — Corn Bread
For hardening our hearts — Jelly doughnuts

Anyhow, I learned something about the whole ‘casting bread upon the waters’… and realized a few things about Tashlich… and got a real laugh at the same time.  So…!  I thought I’d share.  Just to brighten your day, feed your faith, and give you something to contemplate.  ((grins!))