Musings about the Druze
We drive from Mount Carmel, where Elijah challenged the Baal priests, to Megiddo, where the final battle Armageddon is prophesied to be fought (Rev. 16:16). Our Israeli guide tells us we are passing through a Druze village. Ever heard of the Druze?
I hadn't. There are some 4 million of them living in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Religious Druze communities began in the 11th century. Their town is clean and orderly, unlike so many of the Palestinian communities where trash litters most sidewalks and fields and we feel like we have suddenly jumped into a time capsule back to the first century. No, the Druze seem productive yet humble. We learn from our guide that they are the only religious group that refuses to take new converts, but they have their own unique way of multiplying.
The Druze divide themselves into two groups, the ignorant and the wise--that's what they call themselves. Everyone is born ignorant but a few pass into the elite group of the wise, and then are privy to the secrets of the faith. No gender bias, as women can become just as wise as men. The wise lead the people.
They believe in only one God, reincarnation (thus they continue on), but most of their beliefs are classified. The ignorant wear western clothing; the wise black robes with white headdresses. We see them intermingled on the sidewalks, many in western dress; occasionally someone in black and white. No Druze cemeteries exist because they believe that as soon as a Druze dies, they go into another body somewhere, thus many people are Druze but don't know it. You may be a Druze, according to their doctrine. Children remember their former lives and can tell you where they lived and who they were before.
We eat at a Druze restaurant where a wise woman cooks my lunch: a huge crepe-like dough thing filled with a delicious sauce, tomatoes and cucumbers, wrapped up like a large diaper and fried. I yearn to converse with her but we don't speak the same tongue. Her eyes are kind and she works with diligence.
The Druze are only one group of hundreds of religions and faith systems that people have created and followed throughout the ages. They testify to Augustine's hole in the heart that yearns to be filled by a meaningful relationship with Almighty God. I have discussions with our guide about the Druze, the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. We talk about these faiths and why he is Jewish, but in his view, all roads lead up the same mountain to find the true God. We reason together and I disagree, kindly. I leave the conversation with the feeling that I've not been persuasive enough, to show him why I believe Christ is the true Hamashiach, God come down and the Savior of the world. I grieve.
As we load the bus for the airport, I see a familiar face. Its Joshua, my seminary student just graduated. What is he doing in Jerusalem? I run to greet him and we hug. What are you doing here? I ask. He is traveling and praying that God will show him what's next. I ask him If he senses God leading him in a particular direction? His answer: Have you heard of the Druze? I think God wants me to show them Jesus.