5 Things the Christian Knows about Israel, but Needs to Experience
In February I went to the Holy Land with other Tour Operators on a “Product Development Tour for Faith-Based Travel.” The goal of our hosts, the Israel and Jordan Tourist Boards, was to entice us to want to return with our clientele. From my point of view, it was very successful because I want to go back and want to share with others the amazing places I visited.
I have made a list for the Christian Traveler of 5 things they already know in their “heads”, but really need to experience with their “heart” by taking that Life Changing trip to the Holy Land.
1) Who’s Holy Land?
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the 3 monotheistic Abrahamic religions. Abraham fathered two sons – Isaac and Ishmael – and two nations. The Bible tells us about the descendants of Ishmael and the sons of Lot: Ammon and Moab. Isaac fathered twins Jacob and Esau and Esau sold his birthright and became the nation of Edom.To visit Jordan is to experience the story of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites and Nabateans (Nabaioth was the son of Ishmael.) The 12 Tribes of Israel are of the lineage of Jacob, whom God named Israel. The story continues with the 12 Tribes of Israel leaving Egypt and traveling through the wilderness east of the Jordan River, which today is the country of Jordan. Atop Mt. Nebo Moses viewed the Promised Land which he wasn’t allowed to enter. After touring Jordan we crossed the Jordan River into Israel. Seeing this land in person it becomes your Holy Land.
2) Jesus was a Jew
Surprise! Of course, you knew this, but walking the streets of Jerusalem is to see Jewishness and the Orthodox Jew is impossible to miss! The Christian finds it interesting yet has lots of questions which an excellent local tour guide is able to address. Ruth, the Moabitess widow came with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, gleaned in the barley fields, married Boaz, and bore a son Obed, who bore a son, Jesse, whose son David became King David and 28 generations later, Jesus is born of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. Born a Jew, circumcised, and presented at the temple in Jerusalem. Raised a Jew to honor the Sabbath and observe Passover. Died a Jew. Jesus was never a “Christian” and whereas the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the followers of Jesus did not, and thus was born the Christian faith. Since my visit to Israel I have felt an appreciation and love for the Jewish people because I have been most blessed by Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
3) What is devotion?
I didn’t have to wait until the streets of Jerusalem to notice the orthodox Jews. I couldn’t miss them at the airport dressed in black wearing broad-rimmed hats, the women with their heads covered. During the flight from New York to Tel Aviv I couldn’t help but notice them at their morning prayers. One woman standing in the aisle held her prayer book in one hand while her lips mouthed the prayers from memory while her eyes continuously watched her family members, and her other hand communicating with gestures. The public display, the particular positions, phylacteries, prayer books and shawls caused me to wonder at their devotion – and consider my own.
4) Holy Land History
We had a Jewish tour guide in Israel, an Arab Christian guide in Bethlehem, and a Muslim guide in Jordan and as we traveled through their land all three spoke of the historical events that occurred in each location. What I found especially thrilling was that they shared Bible stories as true historical events, believed and loved by Jew, Christian, and Muslim!
5) Seeing is believing
I’m not suggesting that without visiting the Holy Land one has doubts about the Bible. It’s been said the Holy Land is the “fifth gospel.” They also say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What I experienced is that seeing the actual locations helps me visualize the Bible stories. To drive the length and width of Israel is to experience the geography from the coasts of the Mediterranean to the Galilean hills and Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights to the Sea of Tiberias, down the “muddy” Jordan River to the Dead Sea and into the Wilderness and the Oasis of Ein Gedi – your mind pictures Jonah, Jesus, Naaman, King David, John the Baptist, and Elijah in their appropriate environments.
Archeologically, transport yourself back in time thousands of years to Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the City of David. Politically, feel the Roman presence at the Roman aqueduct at Caesaria, the excavated Cardo in Jerusalem, and ruins of Herod’s palace at Masada. Prophetically, eagerly anticipate events of unfulfilled prophesy after standing where they are to occur someday! And gastronomically speaking, enjoy a famous Israeli breakfast and you will agree that Israel is a “land flowing with milk and honey.”