Getting Ready for the Pilgrimage to Israel
I'm a little under two weeks away from going to Israel. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. Everyone I've talked to that has been to Israel has talked about it being lifechanging. I'm not looking for that type of an experience although I'm sure at some level it will be lifechanging. I'm looking at it more from the experience of walking where Jesus walked, seeing and walking in the sites I read about so often in Scripture. I believe it's going to make my speaking richer and my overall understanding of Scripture deeper. I believe this will be one of many trips to Israel over the years. I'm looking forward to some day leading a group from Seven San Diego to Israel.
We're going to be staying inside the city of Jerusalem. Literally, just steps away from the Temple Mount, Golgotha, and so many others. Temple Mount is so significant in many ways including that it is Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered Isaac and it is the site of the Temple that Solomon built for the Lord. However, there is only one wall that remains, the western wall...also known as the Wailing Wall. Jesus taught often at the Temple, there is so much that happened there and will happen in the future. It is currently occupied by "The Dome of the Rock." Basically, a Muslim museum of sorts. To understand why the Muslims control this particular area you'd have to understand the Crusades and Richard the Lionheart vs. Saladin...long story, look it up online it's well worth your time. Basically, due to an agreement in the 12th Century the Muslims have had control of this area.
Golgotha being the place where Jesus was crucified and we will be near where He was buried and where he rose from the dead. We will visit the Mount of Olives with the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples. And, it is in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before being arrested.
We will stand atop Mt. Nebo where Moses died after looking into the promiseland. We will stand in the spot Moses stood and see what Moses saw (except with all the modern changes of course).
One of my absolute favorite sections of Scripture is in Luke 19:1-10 where Jesus sees Zacchaeus. It's starts by saying, "Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus..." It's my favorite for several reasons. 1. Jesus notices Zacchaeus who is a "notorious sinner" as the Bible says. 2. Jesus goes and has dinner with Zacchaeus which totally ticks of the religious people because Jesus hangs with "sinners.". 3. Jesus redeems Zacchaeus as Zacchaeus has a change of heart and wants to serve the Lord. 4. Jesus states His purpose: v.9, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost." I lean on that section of Scripture so often because it is a constant reminder for me of the real purpose of ministry. It's not for the "religious" type. It's for those who are lost...those who don't know Christ nor their own purpose in life. All that to say that we are going to be in Jericho. As you read that section of Scripture I mentioned you notice it says Zacchaeus was up in a sycamore-fig tree. Well, there is a sycamore-fig tree still there in Jericho that people believe may have been the exact tree that Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Jesus passing through.
I'm thrilled about that, that's powerful stuff for me.
Well, I could go on and on. There's so much more to tell you about. I'll blog from there in the internet cafe's and send some pictures for you.
I'd appreciate your prayers for a safe, memorable experience in Israel.