Fruit and compromise
Daylight found us this morning somewhere over Italy making our way to Tel Aviv. Once landed, we were off in the tour bus to our first stop - a hike to Tel Gezer. Ronan, our amazing host, introduced us to the land of Israel with conversations ranging from land regions, to plant life, to Sabbath regulations, to favorite foods… He talked to us about the importance of the standing stones of remembrance at Tel Gezer and the importance of not compromising on carrying out God’s plan. Whether it be a broad command such as possessing the promised land or a Biblical truth we each must apply personally, we must guard ourselves against compromise.
Situated near the International Coastal Highway and guarding the primary route into the Israelite hill country, Gezer was one of the most strategic cities in the Canaanite and Israelite periods. Gezer is a prominent 33-acre site that overlooked the Aijalon Valley and the road leading through it to Jerusalem. The tel was identified as biblical Gezer in 1871 by C. Clermont-Ganneau who two years later found the first of many boundary stones inscribed with the city’s name.
Bet Shemesh was our next stop, and Bryan continued with the theme of no compromise. The hills of Samson’s life were the backdrop as we considered how Samson’s compromise affected him, his parents, and ultimately the message to his fellow man of God’s supremacy. We were challenged to take time right there beside those ruins to look at ourselves - where we see fruit, and where we see compromise. The end goal being to make a difference. To learn from this great man of the past and set God’s commands first and foremost in our lives today.
A border city between Judah and Dan, Beth Shemesh was given to the Levites. Beth Shemesh was the most important Israelite city in the Sorek Valley as it watched both east-west traffic through the Sorek Valley and north-south traffic along the “Diagonal Route.” Recent excavations have shown a thriving city here from the Middle Bronze Age through the Iron II period.
David met up with Goliath just a short distance down the road in the Elah Valley at Azekah. As we picked up commemorative stones from the creek bed, we remembered his declaration of commitment to God. We huddled around on site and prayed that we too would live out that same commitment.
Tel Azekah and Elah Valley
The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.
A trip to Israel wouldn’t be complete, or so we were told, without a camel ride. And so we rode. And we laughed. And we are still laughing.
Our day out wrapped up in a bedouin tent experiencing the hospitality of our newfound desert friends. Ronan called on us to remember Abram’s example of hospitality long ago and left us with these words from 1 Peter 4:9, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” And so we shall.
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