In coming back from my trip to Israel, one of the questions frequently asked was: Did you see any of the unrest going on in Egypt? It looks like Cairo is some distance from Israel and in fact it seemed very peaceful in Israel. From what I saw of the Jews and Muslims, they seemed to live peacefully. Because of the interest many tourists have in this land of the Bible, tourism apparently boasts the business of vendors, shop owners, restaurants and hotels. The Jewish people do well and I’m sure the Muslims prosper also. There were 750 people on this tour and we all were at the beautiful Dan Jerusalem Hotel the entire time we were there. This tour was from Jan. 28 through Feb. 6, offered by TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network). Each bus had a tour guide who taught us much about ancient and modern Israel.
I walked the very streets Jesus walked when he carried the cross He was going to die on, to the place of the Skull, called Golgotha where He was crucified: John 19:17. The other two crosses hung the two thieves. One of these men recognized his need of Christ as his Savior and the other said nothing & never entered into paradise. Luke 23:41-42 tells us this account of this event. If your thinking there is no way you could have this free gift, I would encourage you to read John 3:16. It tells us that God so loved the world (you & me) He gave up His one & only Son (Jesus) so every one who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
We went to the Sea of Galilee and had about an hour boat ride that we all enjoyed very much. To my surprised, it is possibly about the size of Lake Mille Lacs but it is very deep. Jesus footprints were all over from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem and that was about two hours bus trip. Another place of interest was the Dead Sea. It is indeed dead and smelt like sulfur. Everyone who went swimming in it floated to the top. We were instructed not to get the water in our eyes as the high salt content would irritate our eyes or any open wounds we might have.
Many Americans came to see the land we read about in our Bible. It is interesting that our Bible is not only God’s Word for us to read but it is a history book like no other book ever printed at least in my opinion. Today the archeologists are continually finding new things everyday. An inscription with the name Pontius Pilate was found in the excavation of Caesarea – a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea. A few weeks ago, I had no idea where this Caesarea was that I would read about in my Bible. But today, I will never forget the experience of sitting in the amphi-theater that Herod the Great had built possibly two thousand years ago.
Let me tell you how amazing it is. Herod also had built a thriving sea port on the shores of Caesarea. They are uncovering theaters, public buildings, a hippodrome, two aqueducts (a large pipe or channel for bringing water from one place to another) a colonnaded street (rows of columns, as along side of a building) and a temple dedicated to Caesar. I wouldn’t doubt that this seaport and all of Herod’s attractions were most likely one of the wonders of the world at that era. Our guide was telling us many divers are coming to explore the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea because he said it is possible to have a hundred ships could have went down in that area and again possibly 2,000 years ago.
While sitting in this Amphitheater, one of our pastors read the scriptures from the book of Acts chapters 25 & 26 where the apostle Paul pleaded his case. What was so interesting was that he said he might be standing in the very place Paul stood when these scriptures took place.
One last very interesting sight we saw was a place called Masada. It is a mountain that is flat on top and a colony of Jewish people lived there. The Romans wanted to conquer it & the Jewish people who lived there. This story of Masada is not in the Bible but it is in the history book of the Land of Israel & can be searched on the web for its details.
God chose the Jewish people to bring this promise of eternal life for us all. Matthew 25:41 is very clear that hell was not made for us. It was made for Satan and his angels. Jesus died for all of us. When we accept what He did on the cross for us this promise is the same promise to all of us as it was for the two thieves on the cross. Whether you accept or you reject what Jesus did for us on the cross, the choice is yours. One of those thieves on the cross was the first person Jesus died for.
I now read my Bible in a new and exciting way. I match it up with the many places Jesus traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem where I have seen with my own eyes the wonders of the cross.
One last and very interesting fact is that Israel is only about 250 miles long and about 70 miles wide. Our guide told us that there is one area that was only five miles wide. Why would any country want this small land when all the other countries around Israel have all kinds of land? In 1948 when Israel became a nation the land was desert and worthless piece of property. But today the desert blooms: Isaiah 35:1. It was interesting when a friend told me that he went into a florist shop in Cambridge and in the window a sign read that their flowers come from Israel. I can tell you that indeed the deserts bloom not only with flowers but also with fruits, vegetables and they are exported all over the world.
The book of Amos was written about 750 years before Christ, making that about 2,750 years ago. He prophesied (Amos 9:14-15) “and I will bring back the exiles of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be torn up out of their land which I gave them,” says the Lord your God (Amplified). Other great prophets also prophesied of the Jews return to their home land Ezekiel 20:41-42 also Jeremiah 16:15 and Jeremiah referred to it several times. Needless to say, we have already witnessed this prophesy fulfilled when thousands of the Jews returned to Israel after the Nation of Israel was restored to them in 1948.
I remembered well the great evangelist Billy Graham saying something to this affect when Israel became a nation, “today Bible prophesies is being fulfilled.” I saw for myself row after row after row of green houses. Our guide also told us that Israel has the greatest resources of restoring and reusing used water. They had just been through a drought. When we were there it did rain. Our guide joked with us that we brought the rain.
One of my questions to our guide who is Jewish was how did he become born again (according to John 3:3)? He said “when I read the New Testament.” Need I say more? How do we respond when the Scriptures are dismissed as just man’s words with error? Most of us aren’t biblical scholars and may not have an answer. But if we do some reading in 2 Timothy 2:15, we’ll find the evidence that is God-inspired. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us every Scripture is God breathed. It’s very interesting to say the least that over a period of 1,600 years, there were 40 different authors that wrote 66 books of the Bible. Also, there was 400 silent years between the 39 books of the Old Testament & 27 books of the New Testament. Yet, it tells us one unified story. I’ve heard it said that there are 300 verses in the Old Testament that tell us that a Savior is coming. One researcher who analyzed only eight (8) of the Old Testament predictions (prophecies) about Jesus, he came to this conclusion: “The chance that any man might have fulfilled all eight is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (one million trillion) I can show any one at least 45 verses pertaining to Jesus in the Old Testament. I wonder where the zeros would end up, probably off these pages. Isaiah 53:1-12 is all prophesy. Just one of my favorite verses is in Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Meaning, God with us).” The first time I read that scripture I thought all they left out of that verse was Mary’s name. Keep in mind that Isaiah was written 700 years before Jesus was born. But it was fulfilled in Matthew 1:20-22 also Luke 1:30-35.
I met many wonderful people on this trip of a life time. That made it extra special.