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‘The Covenant’ Brings the Bible to Life for Israelis
22 April 2005

CBN.com - For the past three years, tens of thousands of Israelis have filled theaters to see an original musical called "The Covenant." This musical is a biblically inspired production that tells the story of the Jewish people, from their beginning to the present day.

"The Covenant" begins with God's call to Abraham 4,000 years ago: "I will bless you and make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. And in you, all the families of the Earth shall be blessed."

"The Covenant" is produced by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The idea behind the play is to remind the Jewish people of their biblical heritage and hope in God.

Covenant Music Director Chuck King said, "The message of “The Covenant” is to try to help them identify who they are as a people, within the context of God's covenant with them and with the land; and why they're here, why they are called to be a blessing to the whole Earth, and [why] we as a people of faith are called to bless them."

Robert and Elizabeth Muren wrote "The Covenant." They believe music is a good way to reach the Jewish people.

Elizabeth said, "We want to remind them of what God did for them. We want to remind them of Abraham, of Moses, of David. What other way but to show them? Let them meet Abraham. Let them meet Moses and David. Let them see what God did for them in this way."

Robert added, "To demonstrate through the history of the Jewish people that the Word of God is solid. What He said, He will do - and nothing more than Israel's history can prove that, because they have been through thousands of years of problems, of exiles, of dispersion. But still, in the middle of all this, they have held fast to the promises of God."

Now in its fourth season and translated from its original English into Hebrew, the musical follows Abraham's call with important events in the biblical story of the Jewish people. From Moses to Ruth to Esther, "The Covenant" traces the biblical journey of the Jews, like the story of Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

Behind the scenes, "The Covenant" is an ambitious undertaking. More than 120 cast and crew are needed for the production. Before the shows, the on-stage performers, the actors, singers and dancers - get made up, and in costume and in character, as they get ready to portray yesterday's Israelites for today's Israelis.

Elizabeth explained, “To introduce them to their own history going all through the centuries.” Robert said, "You know, to let them see how faithful God has been with them. And to see Christians around the world love them and care for them, when the rest of the world is making them feel the opposite."

Before every performance, the cast and crew gather for prayer. Elisabeth leads the prayer time today, saying, "I pray that every person coming will feel You are there, because You are the greatest and the biggest Character in this play, O God. You are the most important Person here."

The idea behind all the rehearsals is to bring the Bible to life. After the Bible stories of “The Covenant,” the musical then follows the Jews' remarkable and tumultuous history of the past 2,000 years. It traces the dispersion of the Jews throughout the nations, when they celebrated the Sabbath under the shadow of persecution.

Elizabeth said, "Not just the old history, but even the new history, because one of the things that makes me believe stronger in God is to see Israel, to see how those old prophecies, those old words have become to reality now. The people living now are the result of these prophecies coming to pass."

From there, "The Covenant" descends into the long, dark night of the Holocaust - and then into the dawn of the rebirth of modern Israel.

For Israelis, after four years of terrorism, turmoil and international isolation, the play comes at a critical time.

Executive Director Malcolm Hedding said, "So the musical is a tool that we believe is vital to inculcate a sense of pride and joy in all that God has done for them, and that is why we're putting it on."

More than 20,000 Israelis will see “The Covenant” this year. Despite living in the Holy Land, many of them simply do not know the Bible or know their own story.

"The Covenant" is a 90-minute history lesson that one school child described as a time tunnel back into their history.

Music Director King said, "They actually see their own lives in the context of these scenes and this music, and they come away saying, 'Now I understand that God is real and that there was a reason and a purpose for my life.’"

It has left some speechless. Here are a couple of responses from the audience:

"The people, everything, the act. It was amazing. I'm in shock. I'm in shock from everything."

"It made me feel proud to be an Israeli. Proud to be a part of this story. It's like this is all a part of our stories."

This play "The Covenant" ends where it began, with Abraham. But now the characters from Israel's 4,000 year-old history join him. But while the musical ends, the story of Israel and its covenant with God goes on.

Robert said, "We don't know everything that will happen in this land in the future, but we know that God has plans for this nation and for the rest of the world, as well. But we really are encouraged, by looking at Israel and at how God has dealt with the Jewish people, that He has a good future for us."

By Chris Mitchell - Middle East Bureau Chief

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