THE BIBLELANDS: ISRAEL TRIP 2014
Less than two weeks ago, my wife Grace and I returned home from one of the greatest journeys of our lives, hands down. In one of the craziest seasons of this new year, God had opened a door that no man, including this man, could shut. After over 12 years of wanting to tour Israel, and even shooting this trip down twice—He made a way like only He could.
So, a whole 24 hours after the wonderful conclusion to our second annual dog sled race, that we just happen to direct, we were throwing all that we needed in a few bags and jumping in a car to drive two hours north, only to wake up at 4:00am and hop a plane to Chicago. No, we weren’t breathing too well at this point and our brains were certifiably numb. Not the time frame I would have picked, but at this point, God wasn’t asking anymore, He was telling.
At any rate, we made it to Tel Aviv after some winter delays in Newark and getting to hang out with Orthodox Jews in the airport. Even in the airport and across the ocean in the plane, Jesus was opening my eyes to more…more of Him…and more of the great need for Him. Watching those men, and women, pray with some sense to touch the Almighty—after we landed in country, I would see some of the incredible extents religion has sought to get to God. (More on that later)
But I would also see the simple, humble paths our Lord had taken to get to us. The mean streets, the lowly lineage, the base upbringing, the homely hometown…they all spoke of God making it easier on us to come to Him than we make it on each other.
From Tel Aviv, everything got small. Yeah, small. It’s not a big country. Israel, roughly, is the size of New Jersey. It takes about five hours to drive from top to bottom and not more than and hour and some change to drive across. Small. And even it’s size spoke of the greatness of our Savior to come to such a place.
A quick stop in Joppa or Yafo, as they call it (Hebrew has no “J” you know), and things just started coming to together and exploding at the same time. Jonah bailed here. Simon the Tanner lived there. Basic. Profound.
The next several days were a blur. We spent the whole first day in Petra, Jordan…had to cross a formerly menacing border. We made it and drove two hours through the wilderness, the same biblical wilderness that the Exodus folk trekked through. We saw where Aaron was laid to rest, the book of Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Then we came to Petra, and Indiana Jones, eat your heart out….
In a word, like many other places we would see in the ensuing days, Petra WAS history. Probably built by some folks called the Nabateans. They were ancient and mentioned in the Bible. At Petra, we saw gorgeous world-wonders of sandstone tombs, temples, and horrible high places. Yeah, the biblical high places people don’t like to think about, here kings of old slaughtered even their own children to evil idols. Makes you think. That one got me a bit.
I also heard the sermon of the fig tree, another sermon. It was the one where you saw the fig tree, a type of the nation of Israel, growing straight up through feet, FEET of rock and still growing. Tough. Unstoppable. Cursed but not destroyed. Through countless exterminations and setbacks, still growing as if God Himself had a plan for it. Yeah, sounds about right.
TO BE CONTINUED