June 30, 2014
I am not going to lie, this day was really heavy on my heart. There were a few things we experienced that were hard for me to swallow, so to speak. The first was when we were on the Temple Mount, and saw a group of religious Jews walking toward the exit as religious Muslim’s followed behind them shouting “Allah is the greatest!”. Second was when we drove across the Palestinian border with a sign that read Israelis do not cross into Palestinian territory, it is dangerous to your lives and against Israeli Law. The last was walking through the Holocaust Museum, seeing the reality of what humans can accomplish while operating in their sin nature, and feeling a very real hatred toward sin.
June 29, 2014
Walking throughout Israel on our trip has been amazing to say the least and after spending time reading through the Old Testament and seeing our Bible come to life we finally get to see where Jesus walked…Jesus! Today we went to Nazareth, Megiddo, Mt. Carmel and Caesarea. We stood on a hill overlooking Nazareth, the place Jesus called home. In Megiddo we saw the impressive ruins under a tel of nearly 26 civilizations overlooking the Jezreel Valley where Jesus will return (and he’s not happy) at the start of the seven-year tribulation.
These past two days have been a time of exploring what living in biblical community might have looked like. We visited many sites and saw remains of old houses that were built close together. These closely built houses were called insulas. Families would live in close quarters – and continue to do as their family grew. For instance, when a son got married, instead of him moving out on his own, his parents would add on another floor or room to the existing house. In these times, family was a huge part of life. There weren’t any other distractions in life to take away from this.
June 26, 2014
Jesus gave the infamous Sermon on the Mount at Areamos Topos. When Jesus speaks about the “Beatitudes” he is really calling us to come to an end of ourselves. This would include becoming broken to the point of being desperate for Him and Him alone. The temptation at this desperate point is for us to fill the void with religious activity, addiction, or any idols instead of filling it with God. Jesus warns us of this and admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of God and He will take care of us.
June 25, 2014
As we learn more about how God’s people have been oppressed over the years, we also get a better gimps of the determination and passion these people have for keeping their legacy, traditions and independence alive. It’s a beautiful reminder that what God has established is worth fighting for. It begs the question, what do we remember that keeps us fighting for the things of God, and what mountains are we climbing to keep it alive?
June 24, 2014
The first stop of our travels took us to the Wilderness of Zin, a desert land known as the Tzi’ya. This is a barren land that holds water only in limited places and only for a limited time each year. It was here that the Israelites were on the “home stretch” of their trek to Canaan from Egypt, until of course their faith was tested and they failed to seize God’s promise, leading to an additional 40 years of wandering in the desert to shed a generation of disobedience. It was here today, in a deep canyon of stone, that we found a small congregation of trees growing out of a sloping side of the rock next to a trickling spring of water. We took rest in their shade and Brad led us as we read the first Psalm.
June 23, 2014
Day one in the land of Israel and things are already beginning to blur. There are so many incredibly rich passages connected to each site that we visit. It can be overwhelming and even feel impossible to absorb the impactful teachings of God’s Word but Rick, Brad, and Mike do an incredible job of leaving us with one specific challenge of application for each story that we hear. As we bussed and hiked through the low hills of the Shephelah today, here are a few challenging thoughts and questions we were given to wrestle with…