I pray you were blessed by the tour rewind! Now, I hope you will bear with me as I share some personal thoughts.
Words cannot describe the joy of hosting the 30 people pictured above on the trip of a lifetime! A year ago when I began planning the trip, my goal was to put together a tour different from every other tour, as I was convinced “experiencing” Israel was a greater blessing than simply seeing Israel. I set out to engage the people and the culture by meeting with Palestinian, Arab and Messianic Jewish pastors; visiting a home for Holocaust survivors; experiencing Samaria (West Bank) in such a way as to see Jews and Palestinians living and working peacefully together; spending time with IDF soldiers; and hearing from those on the front lines sharing Yeshua to the Jewish people. We accomplished every one of those!
I also prayed for a “fun” group who would grow together as family. Boy, did I underestimate just how powerfully our Lord can accomplish that! This group was absolutely incredible! Besides having loads of fun, all were engaged, none whined, each was on time to keep us on schedule, and everyone looked after the needs of others. What a joy and a privilege to be with them for such an adventure!
Personally, for those two weeks, I was “living the dream!” God has given me such a deep love for God’s chosen land and God’s chosen people, and such a passion to share everything I can with as many as I can. My eighth trip to Israel was totally different than my first seven, as my sole focus was to make those two weeks the most absolutely incredible weeks I could make them for those 30 dear friends. I was not perfect, but the group was very gracious and seemed to consider it a smashing success! I certainly got my feet wet on what I hope will be the first of other such tours. (If you are interested in perhaps joining a future tour, email me at Looking4theBlessedHope@gmail.com.)
You also need to know I have a driving ambition to create a similar experience for those of you who follow this blog! While it is physically impossible for you to experience Israel without being there, I pray often to skillfully give you an experience as close to the tour as I can! You were not forgotten as we made the journey.
So, allow me to take you one step further into the experience. When you travel around Israel, Bible passages become “stitched together” geographically and historically, so that a grand tapestry is woven together. There are a thousand examples, but let me explain using yesterday’s Biblical account of Resurrection Day.
Mary Magdalene, Peter and John were featured in that narrative and my hope was to put you “in the picture.” Assuming I was successful, let me take you back to other sites in which those characters were prominent, and we will weave a greater tapestry!
Mary Magdalene was first to the tomb on that Resurrection Sunday. But press pause and let me take you back up to the Galilee area. We toured a place called Magdala…the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, and site of a 1st century synagogue in which Jesus would absolutely have taught!
Mary wasn’t at the tomb that morning by accident! She knew Jesus and loved Him. He had delivered her from seven demons (Luke 8:2) and had taught in her hometown. As Galilean’s, their families journeyed to Jerusalem for the feasts. So, to see the area in which she lived and was healed, then to picture her at the tomb, stitches her surroundings and experiences to Jesus, to the tomb, and to His Resurrection! A mind picture is born!
Consider John. He was perhaps Jesus’ closest friend. John and his brother, James, were fishermen and among the first disciples Jesus called. As we visited (and even sailed on) the Sea of Galilee, our mind’s eye pictured those disciples on the seashore, dropping their nets and following Jesus.
John was there in the Garden of Gethsemane, sleeping when Jesus had asked him to pray (Matthew 26:36-46). He leaned upon Jesus at the Last Supper in the Upper Room (John 13:23-25), and Jesus entrusted His mother to John at the foot of Calvary before He was crucified (John 19:26-27).
Again, the tapestry weaves together when you see the sites!
Then, there is Peter. He, too, was in the Garden of Gethsemane, so he is woven into the fabric there. Around the Sea of Galilee he was called by Jesus, he followed Jesus, Jesus lived with his family in Capernaum, and Jesus restored Peter after Peter denied Him three times. At Caesarea Philippi, Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ, and Jesus declared His intention of building the church upon the rock! (Peter = rock). Of course, the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles by Peter at Caesarea by the Sea.
One could spend a lifetime weaving the tapestry of sites and Biblical accounts which make the Bible come alive, but I hope I’ve given you the first threads to be able to do so!
It has been said that a trip to Israel is worth a semester or two in seminary, and I agree! Once you’ve seen the sites, you never read your Bible the same way. When the tapestry begins to weave in the mind of the believer, God’s Word is more alive and vivid than ever before. My honest prayer is that every person reading this has an opportunity to go to Israel. Yet, for those who cannot, my prayer is for God to use these pictures and accounts to supernaturally weave the tapestry in your mind as well! He wants us to know and understand, and He is capable to getting us there, or painting the pictures on the canvas of our minds in His own miraculous way!
Many blessings, my friends, and I hope you will continue to follow along as I strive to share as much as I know about Israel, our Jewish roots, and what God says about these last days in which we live! Thank you for following, and I invite you to continue!