While I visited many historic and beautiful locations, two rather lonely places were especially significant, adding depth to the biblical narratives: Caesarea Philippi and the garden of Gethsemane.
The Promised Land. The land of milk and honey. The Holy Land. This piece of real estate goes by many names. And although it’s barely bigger than the state of New Jersey, hardly a day goes by that something newsworthy doesn’t happen in this geographical area.
Jesus marked this land’s significance for all time by making it His earthly homeland. He wept over it, healed many of its inhabitants, mastered its nature, and made predictions about its future. Today, thousands of His followers trace His steps every year and see their lives change as a result.
How does it benefit us to become familiar with the layout and distinctions of Israel? You’d be surprised how your understanding of biblical events is sharpened when you consider the geography in which these key historical events occurred. These resources will help insert you into the scenes as you absorb the rich history of the land fashioned and chosen by God Himself.
On a recent tour of Israel, my wife and I went to this hill to hear anew the familiar expressions of “Blessed are” preached by Chuck Swindoll. But there, on the Mount of Beatitudes, it was what I saw, more than what I heard, that really demonstrated the power of Jesus’ words.
When we consult the Scriptures further we see that God does not explicitly command against war or against the taking of another’s life. Murder, which is different than killing, is explicitly condemned.
Jerusalem's authorities brought Paul to Caesarea to appear before the Roman magistrate on trumped-up charges. Paul modelled for us how a thinking, believing follower of Christ can defend himself or herself against criticism.
It's at the cross of Jesus Christ that life begins. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ make up the most critical event in history—one worthy of our pause, our pondering, and our praise.
In search of a solid foundation in the Law, they returned to Ezra, seeking insight—wisdom that could be built into their daily lives. They committed to clear away the rubble of wrong thinking and their old patterns of living, replacing them with obedience to the Lord and His Law. This biblical method for spiritual renovation is an excellent model for rebuilding our spiritual lives today.
For months, Nehemiah led the project of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls in spite of constant opposition, both subtle and overt. As the walls neared completion (Nehemiah 6:1), threatening foes once again assailed this leader. But this time the attack was much more insidious than before—the enemy attempted to intimidate Nehemiah through several frightening plots.
A tour of the Holy Land is not just about what you see, it’s also about experiencing God and His Word in a whole new way. As I reflect on my own experience in Israel I note three things that occurred for me.
Before the soldiers came for Him in Gethsemane, Jesus let us eavesdrop on His talk with the Father. It is truly “the Lord's Prayer.” Found in John 17, it is one of the most remarkable and longest intercessions in all of God's Word.
Mark 6:52 records a heartbreaking moment in Scripture: “[the disciples] had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” It took a storm to help the disciples learn a valuable lesson. What will it take for you to surrender to Jesus in faith?