I'm home now and have gotten over a bad cold I came down with on the airplane and jet lag. My life is getting back to normal. I'm still somewhat tired but getting there.
I've had time now to reflect on the trip. The best day was when we went to the garden and saw Golgotha and the tomb. We had communion in a small cave like chapel, quite an intimate experience. Luke purchased an olive wood cup for each of us. Thank you, Pastor.
Then we went on to the Jordan River where I was baptized right where Jesus was. Totally awesome thought. I know the water wasn't the same but still. There were guards on the opposite side which is Jordan. They had machine guns but looked rather bored watching the people be dunked under the cold water.
Then the mount of the Beatitudes. Time to pray and reflect. The area is truly beautiful.
Over all the day was the most spiritual for me. Luke warned that we might not have a mountaintop experience in Israel. I can understand why. We study the Bible and have a first century or older viewpoint in our minds.
Israel is a modern country with all the infrastructure and lifestyle that goes along with it. It was rather jarring to step into Jerusalem with the ancient within my mind and see the modern. The traditions and rules the Jews have made into their god was disheartening. Superstition has wormed its way into the legalism of the religion. Then the Islamic oppression on top of that.
I do want to say that the regular people seem to get along between the two groups. Ronny, our guide, indicated that, although they don't socialize much the regular Jews and Muslims tend to do okay together. What I observed verified this.
The best thing on the Temple Mount was when we walked from the Beautiful or Golden Gate area across toward the west. Ronny gave a running commentary about the temple. Here was the outer court where the Gentiles could be. This was the Court of the Women. Then the Court of Israel where the altar of sacrifice was. Here we entered the Holy Place with the show bread and lamp stands. Then he stopped and pointed to a small gazebo, built by the Muslims. Nothing you'd really remark over. This, he said, was the Holy of Holies. I turned and looked back the way we had come. Directly in line was the Gate Jesus entered on Palm Sunday riding the donkey. Through that gate, even with all that the Muslims have built to keep Him out, Jesus will enter Jerusalem again. For God, it's a small thing to eliminate what man has built.
One thing that puzzles me is how God could think of this mostly arid, rocky land as His Promised Land. So much of it is simply desert and rock. Coming from the fertile lands of the agricultural US the land of Israel was pretty rotten. But, God uses the foolish to confound the wise so I'll trust that His plan for the land is right.
I think the main thing I'm taking away is having much more of an idea of how the land and cities and people in the Bible lived and how the politics of the time influenced what happened. Seeing ruins from the time of Abraham clear through to the early church was amazing.
We in the US have a concept of history that's about 300 years old. In the Middle East there are buildings and roads that are 4000 years old. Puts a totally different perspective on our importance in the scheme of God's plan.
I'm very glad I went. As Pastor Luke said, I'm seeing the Bible in 4 D now. When I read about the Temple I can understand the size of the Mount. The mount of the sermon of the beatitudes and the feeding of the 5000 is alive in my mind. I can 'see' Jesus standing in a boat preaching. I've been on the Sea of Galilee. I saw the wind come up and stir the water in the evening, not to the extent of the storm He calmed but can envision it.
I walked where He walked. Sat where he might have sat. Was in synagogues he taught in. That in itself makes the time and money spent worthwhile.
In His Steps
My church offered the opportunity to travel for 10 days in Israel. I jumped at the chance. So daily I will be posting images and comments. I hope you are blessed with what I share.
This blog is dedicated to BL who went to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve been friends for over 40 years, raised our boys together, and our lives should have had many more years along side each other. God had other plans. We will be together for eternity.
I love you and will miss you terribly.