“Really? You went where!?!” That phrase accompanied by various surprised expressions has been the response my wife and I have received from a number people after telling them that we went on a trip to Israel. Of course, most people’s main concern is for safety. It’s no secret that Israel has seen more than its share of war and bloodshed through the centuries. Its strategic location situated at the crossroads of the ancient trade routes that connect Europe, Asia, & Africa has resulted in the land being fought over countless times which also includes various conflicts in recent history.
But though the nation is constantly in the news and is repeatedly issued threats by nations like Iran, we were struck by how secure and peaceful the country was and how safe we felt the entire trip. Whether strolling through the market district of Old Jerusalem or looking across the border into Syria from the Golan Heights, there was never any concerns or cause for alarm.
Now to be fair, even with safety issues put aside, Israel is still NOT on most people’s top five vacation destinations list – but I think it should be! Though a tiny nation, stretching only 424kms in length by 114kms at its widest point, Israel is incredibly diverse in geography, culture, religion and where else in the world can you stop on the side of the highway to go for a camel ride?!? Oh, and did I forget to mention the history? There are literally layers upon layers of history in Israel dating back nearly 4000 years!
Our tour guide shared with us that when the city of Jerusalem wanted to build a light-rail mass transit system the original timeline for construction was three years – it ended up taking fifteen! The reason for the delays was that almost every time they put a shovel in the ground they uncovered a piece of ancient history. So with each new discovery they had to first call in the archeologists to excavate, then the historians to examine, and finally the theologians to determine if there was any religious significance. Only once all three groups were satisfied could the construction continue.
But it’s not only Jerusalem that’s rich with history; the entire country is the same. Of course, for me as a Christian the already rich history takes on even more significance when considering the biblical importance of the events that occurred in those places.
Perhaps the most profound sensation was being able to walk on the same ground (or water) as Jesus. Well I didn’t quite walk on the water, but I did go for an early morning swim in the Sea of Galilee! It was a little chilly, but at least I didn’t need to a chop a hole in the ice to get in!
The boat ride we took on the Sea of Galilee is one of my favorite memories from the trip. As we headed out the wind was blowing up some gentle swells, which made me wonder – Exactly how did Jesus walk on the water? I mean even without the problem of sinking the water is not exactly smooth, so did He walk up and down the waves or did He stride from the top of one wave to the next? However He did it, just being out on the water and picturing it happening was something that will stay with me the rest of my life!
There is so much more that I could share which time and space do not allow, however if you would like to learn more about Israel or how you can begin planning your own pilgrimage to the Holy Land please feel free to stop by my office or give me call. Until then – Shalom – May God’s Peace be upon you.
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