Five reasons to go to Israel, as compiled at 39,000 feet above the ocean on an airplane somewhere between Tel Aviv and Toronto.
I spent the past eleven days in Israel. Woah. Did I just say that? (And, the surreal moment continues when I say “that was after spending a weekend in Rome.”) It’s not often an opportunity this spectacular plops itself into my lap but now that I have photographic proof, I guess I can go ahead and pinch myself…it’s not a dream, after all! (Or if it is, at least I have the photos to remember the glorious dream that was two weeks in Rome, Italy and then all over Israel.)
See the Bible in technicolor.
I will never be able to describe the feeling of standing atop Herodian (aka the site of Herod’s palace from the time of Jesus) and looking out at Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and off toward the Dead Sea. What a visual journey seeing the distance that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus took between Nazareth and Bethlehem, the journey that the Wise Men took from Herod’s palace to Bethlehem, the route Jesus would hav walked in his earthly ministry.
Float in the Dead Sea
After hearing the stories and seeing the photos, I shouldn’t have been surprisd but I really did float and it was spectacular! Researching the mineral properties of the water and realizing the uniqueness of its calcium, magnesium, potassium, and salt content adds to the marvel that is the body of salty water.
Sail on the Sea of Galilee
Sit in a wooden boat, feel the lapping waves, watch the sun set over Tiberias. See the fish jump out of the water, watch fishermen pull in their nets, read the words spoken those thousands of years ago. Floating on the waters that Jesus walked on: spectacular.
Learn (more) about Jewish culture
I walked my days in Israel reading the Bible and seeing the sites and living the Land. After three decades of Bible facts and Scripture memorization and Jesus stories, nothing compares to the thrill of not only seeing the sites mentioned in Scripture but learning more about the cultural context surrounding those words and stories. My favorite was singing hymns and watching the sunset (even if I found myself downright seasick :P) on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:1-11), seeing the abundance of mustard flowers (Matthew 17:20), and looking at the gate in Solomon’s palace that was known as the “eye of a needle” (Matthew 19:24).
Understand the news clips
The day after I wandered Jaffa (by myself, mind you), headlines back home showcased the stabbing death of an American tourist in Jaffa. The day before I drove past the Damascus Gate, there was a stabbing. The week before I walked past Jaffa Gate, soldiers were attacked there. My friend described the challenges of living in Israel during such turbulent times as the birth pains leading to the birth of a new life; this strikes me as the perfect analogy and I am grateful for her perspective. The eyes of the world are watching Jerusalem, and I was there to see it.
If you think you might want to go to Israel, DO IT! Do it now.
I went to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living as a representative of the Canadian office of their international ministry. The trip was organized with excellence by Inspiration Cruises & Tours. You can read more about this year’s trip on the official trip blog.