THE JERUSALEM BELT

We were walking along the street in Jerusalem near the Dung Gate heading back to our bus. We had just witnessed about 300 army recruits getting inducted into the Israeli Army at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. (It is often called the Wailing Wall.) These new recruits, both men and women, had passed their basic training and after their induction ceremony would soon receive their orders and a gun. Every young man, except the Orthodox Jews, must serve for three years in the Israeli Army and every young woman must serve two years.

In addition to witnessing the army induction ceremony, we also were privileged to see Orthodox Rabbis carrying some very decorative silver cases containing new Torahs (scrolls of the first five books of the Bible) to be used in Sukkoth celebrations. We happened to be in Jerusalem on the eve of Sukkoth, or the Feast of Booths also called the Feast of Tabernacles.

As usual, the ubiquitous vendors of varieties of merchandise confronted us as we walked along the road, trying to interest us in their wares. I really wasn’t interested until I saw a tall fellow peddling some belts with the word “JERUSALEM” on them. In the fading light they looked to be good, leather belts. It was the last day that we would be in Jerusalem and I thought that it would be a good souvenir that I could wear back home. So, I stopped, bought the belt, and hurried to catch up with the rest of the cruisers.

However that evening on the ship, I discovered that I had paid good money for a bad belt. It was not made of leather. It was made to look like leather. A thin layer of plastic covered a thicker layer of felt or cardboard which in the dim light camouflaged its character. As I tightened it around my girth, part of the plastic peeled off where the buckle rubbed it. I had been deceived in the dim light because I didn’t take the time to examine the belt thoroughly.   Not only that, but I had failed to listen to the counsel of my wife, for Cynthia had strongly encouraged me NOT to buy it.

I am reminded of the warning by Paul in Ephesians 4:14 that there are those who in cunning craftiness, “lie in wait to deceive.”   I really can’t blame that street vendor because I assumed that the belt was of a certain quality. I didn’t check it out and I didn’t listen to wise advice. Nevertheless, there are no serious consequences for my carelessness, except to my pride and pocketbook.

However, there are serious consequences to those who are deceived into believing false doctrine. Satan makes certain that as we walk this pathway of life that we are confronted by those who with trickery and cunning craftiness lie in wait to peddle error and deception.

But our God will protect us from these types of people as we draw close to him, trust His word, and believe those who speak the truth in love.

Henry Hazard