My husband and I took part in a tour of Israel last month. I hoped to experience Christ profoundly as we toured the Biblical lands. And I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the country of my Savior’s birth and a new appreciation for the landscapes and hardships of the people of the Bible. The trip blessed me and taught me some new lessons.
Lesson One – Jesus Provides
I observed the desert where the Israelites wandered for forty-years and gained a new appreciation for the difficulties of their journey. The entire country continues to experience drought, making water a precious commodity. And now I understood the importance of Jesus’ words to the people of His times, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 (NIV). The lesson showed me that Jesus provides what the world cannot.
Lesson Two – Jesus Restores
We floated on the Dead Sea. The waters that feed the Dead Sea contain an unusually high salt content, making it the world’s most saline body of water. With such high salinity, no marine life can live in the Dead Sea. Biblical archaeologists believe the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18—19 took place in the Dead’s vicinity Sea. Curiously, near the SE corner of the Dead Sea is a salt rock area known today as Mount Sodom. On its slopes stand strange formations of salt that look like pillars. Also, Ezekiel prophesied in Chapter 47 that the sea would live again. And recently, some fresh-water fish appeared in some sinkholes around the area. This lesson taught me that our Lord can bring life to that which was dead.
Lesson Three – Jesus in the Quiet
Many of our stops included the places where Jesus visited during His life. These included Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb. These spots helped me understand why Jesus sought quiet places. Hawkers and tourist fill these monuments with noise. People pushing and shoving to get the best view and street vendors and shop owners pedal their wares. The commotions reminded me we find God in the gentle whispers of the wind and not in the noises of our world as seen in these verses:
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.1 Kings 19:11-12 (NIV)
Lesson Four – Jesus in our Hearts
Finally, as I sought Christ in each place we visited, I recalled the angel’s message to the women at the tomb, “He is not here” Matthew 28:6 (NIV). I felt awestruck by standing in places Jesus stood. But I soon realized that people might visit these places without ever knowing Christ. Seeing His birth place did not make me a follower of Christ. I must accept Him as my Savior to belong to Him and then He will dwell with me forever. “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17, (NLT). The lesson showed that seeing the Holy Land did not give me faith. Believing in Jesus Christ was the only way to eternal life.
The trip was amazing, and I recommend going if you ever get the chance. Experiencing Israel makes so much of the Bible come alive. As our tour guide told us often, visiting Israel allows the Bible to hug you as you experience it. I will treasure these memories and lessons for a long time. And, I plan to write more details of our trip in the April and May issues of Faith on Every Corner digital magazine.
Dear gracious Father in heaven. I pray for your people of Israel. Bring them peace and prosperity. Thank you for all the opportunities you provide for each of us to learn and grow in our faith. Please help us be in your word daily and grant us a deeper understanding. We praise your holy name. Amen.