It has long been a dream of ours to go tour the Holy Land.
This past month, we were able to go, and even bring our three children, ages 9, 10, and 12. Out of 82 people on the tour, sponsored by Bellevue Baptist Church, our three children were the only non-adults. However, they were so mature, I must tell you I was very proud. As they are homeschooled, this qualified, I suppose, as the mother of all field trips!
Israel is a land of contradictions: It is very small, but militarily quite mighty. It is the source of three major religions, but is far from a peaceful place. It is the home of Jesus, though only a minority of occupants are actually His followers.
It is amazing to stand in one place and see the place of so many events of history so closely aligned. For instance, in basically one spot, John the Baptist immersed Jesus, Elijah and Elisha parted the Jordan River, Elijah was taken to heaven, Abraham and Lot parted ways, and Joshua crossed over to defeat Jericho.
Just South of this area lies Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were hidden for over 1,850 years. They contain exact language of every book of our Old Testament except Esther! This means you can certainly trust the translation of your Old Testament.
The Dead Sea spans further Southward, where Herod the Great’s fortress of Masada towers over the lowest place on the face of the Earth. In the Dead Sea, you cannot sink. The salt content is so high you float. I could even stand up in deep water, and never sink below my chest. Just across the Jordan River, is Mt. Nebo, where Moses’ body was hidden after he’d been allowed to see the Promised Land.
In Bethlehem, you can touch the spots where Jesus was born, and where the Shepherds were visited by angelic hosts. As you travel, you can see where Elijah called down fire at Mt. Carmel, and Megiddo, where the prophetic battle of Armageddon will take place.
Jerusalem is where Jesus taught, was tried, convicted, crucified and placed in a tomb. And rose again. You can visit all those sights. It is also the site of the Temple Mount, which is controlled by Muslims. Interestingly, they have read of the Bible’s prophecy of Jesus touching down again bodily on the Mount of Olives and walking through the Eastern Gate. In reaction, local Muslims have bricked up that gate. Because of their belief that Jews cannot enter a Muslim graveyard, they have even placed lines of Muslims graves to block it off! (Good luck with that).
The Sea of Galilee’s Northern Shore is the site of many Biblical accounts. There you can walk through Capernum, where Jesus taught the Beattitudes, fed 5,000 men with five loaves and two fishes, and tour the remains of Peter’s home. The precipice where He was nearly thrown off is there, not far from the Gentile area where He cast demons into a heard of swine and they ran into the Sea of Galilee.
It is an inspiring place. My favorite part was getting to baptize my children in the Jordan River. If you ever have thought about going on an organized tour of Israel, let me be an encouragement to you. It is never totally safe, but neither is here. We seldom regret all we do, but we often regret those things we did not do.
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