Israel 2019 Day 10
Our morning started in Nazareth and a visit to the “Nazareth Village,” a ministry that has recreated 1st century life in Nazareth. Live shepherds, carpenters, and weavers really made us feel like we had traveled in time.
A special highlight of the morning was when pastor Mike read Luke 4:16-30 in a replica synagogue. This is the account where Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1-2a in Nazareth’s synagogue 2,000 years ago. It was a powerful experience as we reflected on Jesus declaring himself to be the Messiah.
From Nazareth we drove across the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, the crucial outpost guarding the entrance to the valley. From this ancient tel we had an excellent view of mount Tabor, where Deborah and Barak led the Israelites in battle against Sisera and his army. God provided rain and mud which neutralized Sisera’s chariot advantage (Judges 4 & 5).
The challenge of this passage is Barak’s reluctance to trust God. It was Deborah who had to give the command to charge. Barak was opting for safety and anonymity rather than faith. Yet faith in God is always well-founded, and God provided the victory.
From there we drove up to mount Carmel, the location of Elijah’s confrontation of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Elijah stood by faith against king Ahab, queen Jezebel, and the vast majority of his culture. God proved his greatness over Baal, and was glorified.
Our final visit was to Caesarea by the sea. This luxurious Herodian city was the Roman capital of Israel during the life of Christ. It was here that the gospel spread to the gentile Cornelius, and here that God struck Herod Agrippa dead for allowing the people to worship him as a god.
It was also at Caesarea that Paul was held captive for 2 years. In that time he faithfully testified to Felix and later Festus, and finally was sent to Rome. Paul could easily have taken the more comfortable route, but he chose to stand out by his faith and speak openly and honestly about Jesus. May we stand out as we walk by faith as he did.
It’s fitting for our touring of Israel to conclude on Thanksgiving. By God’s grace, we had an awesome trip. Every day we saw amazing sights (and sites) that literally brought the Bible to life. We had an excellent guide (Irit) and driver (Munir), which really makes all the difference. They navigated us through the chaos and taught us much about Israel and Israeli culture.
The group was amazing. They followed me up and down ancient tels, on and off of the bus, in and out of water, and through underground tunnels (“put on your water shoes now!”). They endured forced marches through the Old City of Jerusalem, and “new and exciting” food.
I am extremely thankful for this special group of people. They had courage, enthusiasm, and a high tolerance for data dumps. They were, and are, a joy to spend time with.
Tomorrow we divide and conquer: 19 of our sojourners begin the journey home, while another 16 of us head to Greece, following in the Apostle Paul’s footsteps. What we are thankful for more than anything is that the gospel has spread from Jerusalem by town, city, country, and continent to this day. Yala yala!