When I first posted from my trip to Israel, in my last blog post I said, “Time will tell how significant an experience it [the trip] has been for me, as I read the Bible with new understanding.”
I’m now 16 months down the road, and I can tell you the trip was a game-changer. I’ve never read the Bible the same since then.
Before the trip, I was merely imagining how the places I read about in the Bible looked. Now I can see them.
Reading the Bible has become a richer experience because understanding the physical surroundings enables dimensions of insight into what is happening in the text.
For example, I realize now that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the path took Him right under the watchful eyes of the Romans stationed at the walls of Jerusalem. Just about every pastor I’d ever heard preach this passage has emphasized the humility of Jesus riding on a donkey. I now think that misses the point.
Accepting praise as a king and deliverer in clear view of Israel’s Roman occupiers was a bold declaration of who really was in charge. A little study confirmed my suspicions when I discovered the traditional mode of travel when a king entered town was a donkey. You get the point. I probably never would have seen that but for understanding the geography.
If you are considering going to Israel, I highly recommend you go with a Christian tour guide. We ran into other groups there led by non-Christians (local Jews, for example), and while I’m sure they were knowledgeable, I’m also sure they gained nothing like the insight we did being taught by a Jewish Christian. Arie Bar-David is a remarkable man and a remarkable teacher, and if you can book a trip with him I’m confident you will not find a richer Israel travel experience.
My friend Ji Yun, at Tirosh Expeditions, organizes Israel tours with Arie. You can find Tirosh Expeditions here. Ji does a fantastic job and the price is very reasonable. In fact, Ji is organizing my second tour to Israel, one designed especially for those who have already been once. I can’t wait. GS