I just returned from leading my 52nd Israel Tour. God is good! This is quite humbling when I think of all the people God has brought together for these life-changing trips to the land of the Bible. Indeed, something special happens on each and every trip. This March 2017 Israel-Jordan trip was no exception.
As I always tell my groups on the last evening of the tour, the adventure of reading the Bible in “3-D color” and within the context of the “physical settings” of the Bible (e.g. the archaeological, historical, geographical, and cultural background of the ancient world of the Bible) is about to begin for them! This is so very exciting to be part of helping this adventure become reality for followers of Christ!
There is also something else that is special about each and every tour, namely, the spiritual growth that takes place in each faith-walk of folks God brings together. Not only do peoples’ insights into the world of the Bible become enriched, but their hearts are touched too. This happens at places such as the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, the Mt. of Beatitudes, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb. Retracing the footsteps and ministry of Jesus has a lasting effect on each life, especially as folks understand where Jesus taught, how He taught, and what He shared with so many! The Gospels are filled with story after story about Jesus’ life, kingdom ministry, and His redemptive purpose.
God brought together 72 people from around the country for this trip. Together we saw and experienced about 50-55 sites related to the Bible. The following are some (certainly not all!) of the sites and experiences we encountered together:
- Caesarea – the life and ministry of Peter and Paul here (Acts 10 & 26)
- Mt. Carmel – Elijah’s bold confrontation against the paganism of the day (1 Kings 18)
- Megiddo – the city “worth 1,000 cites” (Thutmose III, Egyptian Pharaoh)
- Sepporis – A Jewish city just 4-5 miles from where Jesus grew up
- Nazareth Precipice – Where the Jezreel Valley unfolds below us – Mt. Tabor, Hill of Moreh, Mt. Gilboa, etc…)
- Sea of Galilee – where Jesus primarily served (Mark 4 & 6)
- Magdala and Gamla – 1st century synagogues where Jesus no doubt taught.
- Capernaum – Jesus’ ministry base where He called the disciples (Mark 1, 2 & 9; Luke 7; John 6)
- Dan – A beautiful nature preserve (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12)
- Caesarea Philippi – the region where Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16).
- Jerash (in Jordan) – one of the Decopolis cities
- Mt Nebo – where Moses viewed the Promised Land (Dt. 34)
- Petra – one of the seven wonders of the world! Indescribable beauty
- Wadi Rum – jeep rides in the desert of Sir Lawrence of Arabia
- Red Sea – Beholding the magnificence of the water
- Timnah – where we walked through a full-size model of the Tabernacle
- The Dead Sea – whee we floated effortlessly
- Masada – one of six palace/fortresses of King Herod.
- Engedi – where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 24)
- Qumran – where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Some even explored “Cave 1”
- Jericho – where we saw the retaining walls of the city on top of which was a mud-brick wall (Joshua 6)
- Wadi Qelt – where we heard the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23
- Bethlehem – where “just at the right time” Jesus was born (Gal. 4:4)
- Jerusalem – Israel’s capital city where many stories form the OT and NT took place. Here we things like saw the Mt. of Olives, Temple Mount, Garden of Gethsemane, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Pools of Bethesda, the Western Wall, the Rabbinical Tunnel, the Garden Tomb, the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum), Temple Mount Sifting Project, and much, much more!
One final thing I share with the group o the last night of the tour is a word of warning. This realistic word of warning is simply to prepare them for when they go back and try and explain their experiences of the trip. Truth is, as great of a trip as it was they won’t be able to adequately share their experiences with anyone! This is because a trip to Israel goes way, way beyond just being a site-seeing trip. Rather, a trip to Israel is a life-transforming experience! This March 2017 Israel-Jordan trip was another life-transforming trip! Praise God!
Thank you for praying for us! God blessed us with a great time. But I also kindly ask you that you would be open to God’s leading in joining us for an upcoming trip to Israel. If you want to grow in your faith walk, an Israel trip is the perfect way to do it! Simply put, an Israel trip is a discipleship encounter like none other!