The people of Israel lives! Am Israel Chai! Last night witnessed a gala celebration of a man and his life, and of a people and their hope. Israeli President Shimon Peres enjoyed a birthday party unlike any other person on the world stage. Although his actual birthday isn’t until August 8, leaders and celebrities from Israel and from all around the world came together in an exciting and emotive way to wish Shimon a happy 90th birthday, with the hope of many more.
President Peres was one of the founding builders of the modern State of Israel, and has served in nearly every major government position available. He is a man who has embodied the Israeli and Jewish people’s dream and hope of a better tomorrow, whatever today brings. It is an indomitable optimism that does not give up hope, despite the reality of futility which constantly frustrates its realization. He has been a politician and a statesman who has never been tainted by scandal, yet has often found himself at odds with the conventional wisdom during the course of his long, and still very active, life. He, like his nation, has a remarkable record of achievement and resiliency. His reputation is honored as a man who has lived according to what he believes. He received accolades of praise that properly belong to another Man. He is a man of the world, and the world hears him. If ever a a person has received his reward in this life, Shimon Peres is among them. If it only ends with this, it will be an eternal tragedy he will forever regret.
King Solomon, the wisest man who has ever lived apart from Jesus Christ, was also very wealthy. With his wisdom and wealth, he set himself to do whatever came into his heart and mind. The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible tells of his quest for understanding and for happiness. What the son of King David came to realize, with all the resources at his disposal to be a self-satisfied man, was that all was vanity, and vanity of vanities. The optimistic humanistic effort to have a good life and to make the world better is, at the end of the day, futile. Yet God, the Creator and Redeemer — who has subjected the whole creation to futility — has put into it and into every person a hope that there is — and can be — something better. This hope is embedded in the collective soul of the Jewish people in particular, and in humankind generally; but wishful thinking does not bring fulfillment, nor does God have a dream that He hopes will come true.
Shimon Peres has struggled with his fellow pioneers and builders of the State of Israel in his and their quest for peace and security. Last night’s gala celebration, which brought people from the whole spectrum of political and social life — both within Israel and the Jewish world, and also from many other countries — was a proof that Shimon had prevailed. Israel, like this man who has shared her life and struggles from the beginning, continues to seek approval from her neighbors and from the whole international community, and finds them very fickle. Neither Shimon Peres nor his people Israel has yet overcome in their struggle with man and God, who alone gives the most important approval which anyone must have, and who gives the peace which comes from ceasing our own works to find significance and worth in this world, by coming to know that the true unifying truth and Hope of Israel — and for all humanity — is found in the Messiah Son of David, even the Lord Jesus Christ/ha-Adon Yeshua ha-Mashiach.
My prayer for Shimon Peres, and for the others of my people, is that they be saved, and to give the glory to the God of our fathers, and to do His will in obedience of the faith in the living God, and in His Son. What a wonderful testimony to hear the likes of President Peres — who has won the acclaim of the world and accomplished so much, yet frustrated by the elusive peace he so much wants for all — to be able to confess like the apostle Paul, who had all the credentials, that all that he achieved in and from the world is rubbish not to be compared with the living and sure hope in God of the riches of the glory of knowing his exalted Lord and Savior and Prince of Peace — the Light to enlighten the nations, and the Glory of His people Israel!