Our first day in the Land of Israel
Today was our first day in the Land of Israel on the GTI Study Tour with The King’s University Students and Alumni. I graduated last year in the MDiv MJS program, but had never been to Israel. It was truly a humbling experience. What I, or should say “we”, experienced today through the eyes and voice of Rod and Libby Van Solkema was nothing short of astounding. Rod pointed us to the Hebraic concept of community, which Israel as a people and a nation were called to be, not only for themselves, but for the nations that surrounded them.
Our first site at a tel, which is a mound or hill, called Gezer, that was a gift given to him by Pharaoh as a dowry for his his daughter when she married Solomon, King David’s son. This is an interesting point because most often we hear of the Egyptians oppressing Israel. The winsomeness of the Jewish people endears those to themselves, and in this case, in covenant relationship.
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 tell 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.
We saw a palacial gate on a high hill with an advanced water-septic-system running underneath. The city gates were where transactions took place, not only commercial, but also it was a point of social justice where the poor and the needy could not only get food and shelter, but also could receive rest from being outside the gates. It makes me think, “How big are our gates today for welcoming those who have less; who are needy, helpless and hopeless.” Yeshua (Jesus), the one Man Israel, calls us all to be a gatekeepers of His Kingdom.
Today created an impetus to be a facilitator of His presence for others. I want to be one from the nations bringing my distinct glory to the King of kings through the gates of the New Jerusalem. This was a wonderful description that Jodi, one of our tour-ees, gave as an excellent picture of what Revelation 21:25-26 says. The beauty of distinction in holiness through its gates, just as we observed the significance of city gates today.
Finally, this reminds me of what I heard from someone else from our tour said in a conversation. It captured what I thought was the theme of the day, which was God’s presence in the midst of the Land of Israel. I asked another of our tour-ees, named Rick, what was the most significant event that happened to him today. He said, as I heard his voice cracking, “The most significant event of the day, to me, was when we were all quiet after we canted the Shema in Hebrew.” The Shema (hear) and v’ahavta (and you shall love), is taken out of Deuteronomy 6:4 (TLV), which says, “‘Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.’ Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.” He said that he had heard God when we were all quiet for about 25 seconds after singing that. He was there!” God’s presence in the Land!
This was an amazing day! I can’t wait for tomorrow. What joys lie ahead as we trek ahead in His Holy Land?