Israel Study Tour with The Forge, Pine Cove

Mar 12-24, 2016

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First Day of Faithseeing

This is it, people: we’re actually in Israel. We were all very grateful for a chance to sleep horizontally and try out some of the Israeli fare for breakfast before we headed out for our first full day in the land. Being here feels… real. I am still astounded by how different reading about, hearing about, and packing for a place is from actually being there: seeing the landscape, walking the terrain, and feeling the culture. I am excited to discover how Biblical stories and imagery come to life as we see, hear, and touch the land God has poignantly used to show himself sustainer, protector, and deliverer.

We started in a garden at Kiriath-Jearim, where we talked about how God has used this land to provide his people with opportunities for faith. Our Israeli tour guide Ronan gave us some insight into much of the agricultural symbolism used in the Bible as we got to see a fig tree, olive press, wine press, and threshing floor. Our next stop was Beth Shemesh and the Sorek Valley where Samson grew up. We were challenged to walk by faith and not by sight as we saw a theme in Samson’s life of doing what was right in his own eyes rather than God’s. We then journeyed to Azekah overlooking the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath, showing us that courage is found in faith, not in ability. Our next stop was Adullam, where we crawled through a cave similar to the one in which David takes refuge from Saul and writes Psalm 57. The Psalm reveals David’s perspective, hope, and joy as he praises God in the midst of trial. The last sight for the day was Beersheba where all three patriarchs lived at some point in their lives. It was there that the nomad Abraham bought land, dug a well, and planted a tree to show possession of the land for himself and future generations as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise.

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.

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It’s hard to pinpoint a lesson that stood out since they all wove together so seamlessly with the common thread of faith and sight. The story that set it up was Samson, though. He went most of his life doing what was right in his own eyes, relying on his own strength and using it for his own desires. It wasn’t until the end of his life, literally blinded by the Philistines, that he prayed to the Lord in faith asking for strength. I have a habit of living, and even serving, in my own strength much of the time. I see and I do, but what does it look like for me to walk by faith and not by sight, looking to the Lord alone for strength? I pray I will grow in that, but what the story of Samson also teaches us is that God is not concerned with perfect behavior; he simply wants us to have faith.

Overall it was a great day and a great start to our trip. Please continue praying for safety, for rest and energy, and that we will keep our eyes open for all God has to teach us. We are grateful for your prayers and support!

Written by Ellen Geis

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Today was one for the record books. It was like drinking from a fire hydrant. We visited Adullam (the cave that David took shelter in), Beersheba (the place where the story of Israel began with Abraham), Beth Shemesh (where the story of Samson took place), Kiriath-Jearim (where the Ark of the Covenant was taken), and finally, the place you see in the picture, Azekah. The valley you see is where the story of David and Goliath unfolds in 1 Samuel 17. As we sat overlooking the valley below, we learned about courage in the face of fear. That courage is found more in faith than it is in ability and courage, when we are afraid, is not a function of our abilities nor our possessions but is a function of faith. We left challenged with this statement: "show me your fears and I will show you your idols." It was truly an eye-opening moment. All these sites have wonderful, God-filled stories to tell and I wish I could share them all on social media but you will just have to wait to hear them in person. #forgeisrael #isthisrael

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Grateful that the Lord is teaching me what it looks like to walk by FAITH and not by sight through the stories of Samson and David. #forgeisrael

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Beersheba. #forgeisrael #isthisrael

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Studying the story of Samson in the Soreq valley. We are having a fantastic first day! #ForgeIsrael #4G16

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