“Making Alijah”: Going Up, Ascent

In the beginning the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God. He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him [Jesus], and nothing was created except through him. The Word [Jesus] gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light [Jesus] shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5, NLT

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

I remember a hike in Olympic National Park. My husband and I took my younger brothers camping when we visited the folks in Washington. I was 23, with the strength and exuberance of a young woman who had a desk job. The two boys were junior high and high school, and my husband was teaching/coaching/truck-driving—all a little more active life-styles than mine.

We took a steep hike up to Glacier Lake, clear, cold, and deep with rocky cliffs where you could see the resident mountain goats. I couldn’t wait to get there, but on my own I never would have pushed myself that far. Only pride kept me moving; I couldn’t let my little brothers show me u. But when their pace left me in the dust, my husband dropped back. He knew the thin air and my lack of conditioning, but he also knew my desire to reach the lake. So he walked with me, then behind me, sometimes prodding me with his walking stick, sometimes making me laugh. And at the end of the hike it was so was worthwhile, a place of beauty and peace I will always treasure.

The Hebrew word for that climb is Aliyah, which means “going up, ascent.” Why were we making Alijah? For the glorious panorama that is waiting for us at our destination.

Jesus climbed up the mountain path to Jerusalem; he was making Alijah knowing what he would face when he reached the heights (Matthew 20:17-19). The climb was hard, but what was waiting for him at the top would be even worse. He climbed anyway. Why? Because it was God’s salvation plan, formed before the beginning of time, formed but not yet spoken at creation.

Alijah has deeper meaning than a difficult, physical climb. When, after World War II, the Jewish people began to return to the land of Israel, this journey was called Alijah. The upward journey, climbing the mountain to Jerusalem, coming back to the Promised Land—this, for the children of Israel, is making Aliyah, the upward journey.

I, too, am a child of the Messiah. A believer, one whose salvation is possible only because Jesus made Aliyah to Jerusalem to take the punishment for my sins. He died for me, paid the consequences of my sins, and conquered death by rising again. He did this for me. He did this for you, too.

My life is a journey, a path I’m on, a trek that continues throughout my whole life on earth. It is an ascent, a sometimes grueling, beyond-my-strength climb. It takes more than I am, more than I have, yet God calls me to make Aliyah. The good news is, I’m not climbing alone. The Holy Spirit is my guide, my encourager, my discerner, my oft-needed prod. Each time I am faced with choice, I have help to choose to ascend up my life mountain, each step higher, each step closer, each step more God-filled.

Why am I climbing? I have a living hope of life-with-God beyond the life’s journey. A mountain-top panorama where God has a place for me, a job that I’ll love, a purpose not yet revealed. So, I am called each day to climb, God giving me strength, to make Alijah.

Jonathan Cahn’s book The Book of Mysteries has been my daily friend lately. Each day I read a short essay, pour over the Bible passages his devotional is based on, and journal a response of where I have been led by the Holy Spirit that day. Thank you, to Jonathan Cahn for introducing Alijah to me.

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