In February 2010, the wife and I took a trip to Israel with 17 other people. The trip was organized by a friend, Ji Yun, and was led by Arie Bar-David.
I had never had a desire to go to Israel. I had told my wife when Celebrity or Crystal Cruises could figure out how to get a cruise ship into Jerusalem, I would be there.
I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual, but I’m a Kingdom guy. Jesus said he took the Kingdom away from the Jews and gave it to a people (the Gentiles) who would bear fruit with it. (Matthew 21:43). Jesus warned the Jews that Jerusalem would be destroyed for having rejected its savior, and it was destroyed in 70 A.D.
So, I didn’t think, and I still don’t think, there is anything holy per se about the Holy Land. I didn’t think the Holy Spirit would be present in any greater degree there than it is here, and I still don’t. In fact, I think the opposite, which I explain in one of my blog posts from the trip.
But, my friend Ji ask me and the wife to pray about going and we did so. I was extremely busy at the time, and going on a 10 day vacation was the last thing I felt I had time to do. However, when my wife and I came back together after praying, we both looked at each other and said, “I think the Lord wants us to go.”
So, we went, and am I glad we did. It was truly a life-changing experience. It was a life-changing experience primarily for two reasons.
First, seeing the places mentioned in the Bible gave me a new context for understanding the Bible. I read now with a much better understanding than I ever did before. When I read about Jesus being in Capernaum or giving the Sermon on the Mount, for example, I can see those places in my mind’s eye because I’ve been there. They are no longer abstract mythical places.
Second, our tour guide, Arie Bar-David, is one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone who has “put on Christ” (Romans 13:14) so completely. He exudes the grace and love of Jesus so much that just being around him made me love Jesus more and want to be more like Jesus.
At the time of the trip, I was blogging daily on my church’s website. I’ve edited those blog posts and will post them here over the next two weeks, beginning tomorrow.
So, journey with me to Israel. Get packed because we leave Monday. GS