Hello all! I just returned from the Holy Land and wanted to share some images and notes I took along the way. I hope these will bless you. The trip was wonderful. I highly suggest you try one someday. Who knows, perhaps a church trip is in our future. I plan to post once a day for the next week and a half. Keep returning for updates!
DAY 1 NOTES:
Our first stop was the place where Jewish officials adopted the Nation of Israel back into existence in 1948. The Declaration of 1948 was a long time coming as many Jews immigrated to this area from up to 50 years prior. Someone tells me I look like Theodor Herzl – it must be the beard.
The guides tell us the first thing they built in Tel Aviv after land-lottery was a Hebrew-speaking high school. Jewish people have always emphasized learning and instruction. 3500 years of history have proved them right in doing so! Today they are the only people on Earth who worship the same God, live in the same land and speak the same language for 3000 years! How did they survive? Not by the armies of men but by the Book.
The speaker in the hall is humorous and inspiring. He shares how the war (WW2) isn’t over until you can pack up and go home. After World War 2, the Brits went home. The Americans went home. Even the Germans went home. But how do you go home when you have no nation? This is what it means to be a Jew before 1948. Bob Dylan, a Jew wrote, “How does it feel to be without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?” A very interesting observation for this born-and-raised American. When you have no home, you truly cannot have peace.
One Israeli enemy said the Jews have enough land at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The presenter hilariously makes the observation: Jews don’t typically deal with water. Every time Jewish people encountered water they found a creative way around it. Noah had an ark. Moses and Joshua cross through miraculously on dry ground. Jonah took a ride with the fish. Even Jesus walked on it! The whole crowd of pastors roared with laughter. I will never forget that talk.
Important note: Truman acknowledged the state of Israel 11 minutes after the declaration against the advice of his advisors. I thought about how a President must make unpopular decisions at the time which will prove the right decision in the future. (prayers that our current President will continue strong support for Israel – 1 Tim. 2:1-2)
City of “Jaffa.” / Joppa:
Joppa is the Biblical location of two interesting events. Here Jonah purchases a fare to run from God’s call to preach to the Gentile nation of Nineveh and in the New Testament Peter sees the vision from heaven and hears God’s command to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. What an incredible parallel from the Testaments.
The name “Joppa” comes from one of Noah’s sons (Japheth) and/or the name “beautiful”. Joppa is home to the only natural bay in the land of Israel. Ships came here to find refuge from the storms on the Mediterranean. Hiram sent cedar to David through Jaffa (Joppa).
The story of Jonah begins at Joppa (Jonah 1). A whale breathes oxygen and so may likely be the fish God used to rebuke his wayward prophet although the text does not specify the type of fish. Our guide tells us even today once or twice a year a whale is washed into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean and floats past Jaffa (Joppa) and toward the direction of ancient Nineveh’s location. Wow.
We see a building with the words, “House of Simon the Tanner”. We don’t know for sure if this is the actual home but the location is quite appropriate. Concerning Peter’s vision in Acts 10, our guide shares that it may have been a Jewish prayer shawl on which the animals were placed. Peter is told to go to Caesarea (to the North) and enter the house of an unclean Gentile named Cornelius to bring the Gospel across national boundaries for the first time.
Acts 10:15 (ESV) the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
The guide reminds our group that someone told us about Jesus. The only reason that person told us is that someone told them… and on it goes down through Christian history to this very spot where Peter (a Jew) heard from God that Gentiles needed this message. He obeyed God and we get Jesus. I was swept up in the emotion of this thought. And for the first time in my life, this very Protestant minister said a short prayer to St. Peter: “Thank you, Peter, for obeying God here.”
Just north of Joppa we travel to an ancient port city built by Herod the Great to curry favor with Rome. In the theatre located there, it is very possible Paul made his appeal before Agrippa. The theatre naturally allows for sound amplification as from the top we can hear the soft conversation of those standing at the bottom. I’ve often wondered about how large crowds were spoken to in the ancient world. Now I have an answer.
Here it is believed the showdown between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal takes place in 1 Kings 18. We are told by our guide how there are still remains of the “slight of hand” tricks the ancient false prophets used to light the sacrifices from below the offering. Evidently, there were small tunnels under the altar for one of their members to set the fire. This is why in the Biblical account, Elijah orders water to drench his sacrifice so to eliminate the idea that what would do was trickery. The Lord’s fire fell and the sacrifice was consumed.
It’s a profound insight into a text I’ve studied many times. I thought about how important it is for modern preachers/teachers to not use false manipulative tactics in presenting the Gospel. God will send the fire into people’s hearts. We need only trust His Word.
Once again, people said I looked familiar. Different sword in this generation though. That’s all for today. I hope you enjoy. Leave a comment or question below and I’ll try to answer!