Visiting the Holy Land is a dream for many people throughout the world. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all consider this land to be the center of our religious and historical past. But visiting this place has its risks. Growing up I never really thought it would be possible with all the fighting, but over the past few years, as more people I know went there, my parents and I thought it would be a good time to go.
My parents and I are very grateful we had the opportunity to go there last week. Our timing was fortuitous. Throughout our visit, our Jewish guide kept asking us if we felt safe and asking us to be ambassadors back home, “You can tell everyone that it’s safe—we all get along and the news outlets exaggerate.” At first we agreed. But we did a little minor eye rolling when on our last day she said it again and we silently wondered if she had watched the news the night before. The latest battles between Hamas and Israel were heating up with several deaths of boys on both sides. In the week that we’ve been home, the news outlets are reporting that tanks are rolling and missiles are being launched.
Although that seems scary and may keep people from traveling there, the sad fact is, there were dozens of people (at least) killed by gunfire on the streets in our own backyards just over the weekend. So, perspective is in order. We live in a fallen world and you have to make choices whether or not to get out and see the world the way it is.
Overall, the trip was great. There were some instances where it was next to impossible to envision the way the landscape was 2,000 or more years ago. But I think in general what I took away was the reality of the hard terrain that Jesus and his disciples (and the ancient people of the land) traversed. Lots of hills, vast deserts, and hard rocks added some serious damage to my already bad knees. But we had it easy with our air conditioned rooms, cars, restaurants with plenty to eat, and time to leisurely enjoy the days. When I think of Jesus walking up the steep slopes with his friends in 114 degree heat, I can only thank Him once again for his sacrifice and His love for us.
The land has played host to different cultures for many thousands of years. Its history can be seen in deep layers of tells (man-made hills) across the country. Much of it has yet to be unearthed but so much has been discovered already that we can now see how our ancestors lived. But more on that later.
I will be writing about the details of our trip, starting in Jaffa, a 4,000 year old city, then on to Jerusalem’s old city, to the desert heat at Masada and the Dead Sea, up to the gorgeous Sea of Galilee, and ending in Tel Aviv with a nice swim in the Mediterranean. For now, a few pictures to get started.
“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”