It was almost a year ago that I went to Israel with my wife for two weeks on a writing assignment for the Israel Ministry of Tourism. What an experience! Israel is a magical place and just one visit will not suffice. It has taken up several spots on my Bucket List. You’ll never read the Bible the same way again.
Be sure to go, and if you do consider using Pilgrim Tours (Morgantown, PA). It was the absolute BEST company to use for this memorable trip. Our guides were Messianic Jews and gave us a very unique perspective on this astounding Land of the Bible. In almost two weeks we squeezed in most of the major biblical sites. Every day was a jaw-dropper!
Below is Caesarea on the Med where Paul gave his defense in Acts 26. I read that same section aloud in this theatre…spine tingler!
This selfie is from the Cardo Maximus (Main Street) at Beit Shean, one of the Decapolis Cities and prior to that where King Saul and his sons were hung naked and headless on the city gates by the Philistines.
The mound in the distance is a tel, a layered ruin of all the prior civilizations on this site over thousands of years. An earthquake left this Roman city in near perfect shape as no one would live here again for fear of another quake. It could have happened yesterday for as pristine as it is today.
And en route to Masada, an amazing stop, we had a reminder of His promise (not to flood the world again) over the Dead Sea (that white edge on the shoreline is salt!). A rugged desert area where David hid from Saul.
At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, all that remains of Herod’s Temple, thanks to the Romans in 70 A.D. It was a real highlight in Jerusalem in 2016, but not so much in 70 A.D. Going underground and seeing the tunnels was remarkable too (you can still see the burnt stone down there from the fires Titus’ men started in its destruction. The Western Wall (Wailing) is basically a retaining wall that held the Temple Mount above it where the Temple sat. Sad, but exciting too.
The Queen of Israel under an arch at the Caesarea Aqueduct. Herod used these miles of stonework to bring water to his palace here. That little man whispering in my ear is telling me to move here. Today Israel, for the first time, has over 8 million Jews in Israel…the most ever in Israel.
Looking at the prophecies of Jeremiah (23:3,7-8, 30:10, 31:9, 33:7), Isaiah (49:8-22, 43:5-6, 54:7), and Ezekiel (11:17, 20:34, 28:25, 34:13, 37:21) help us understand that this is massive migration is from God, especially Ezekiel 37.
“When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deuteronomy 31:1-5).”
Consider Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland when he closed with Ezekiel’s vision and quoted chapter 37:11-13 as fulfilled,
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.”
This IMOT website posts my articles (104 of them) and updates the three every few weeks. It was intended for pastors, but I’m sure you’ll find some helpful hints for your trip. Figure on about $5000 for two for a ten day trip, but worth $10,000 for a five day trip!
Merry Christmas! (Genesis 12:3)