The Pray for Hope Pilgrimage to Israel, December 3-13, 2012, was a bucket list trip for me. I am so thankful to my Lord for making the way for me to go to the land of the Bible specifically:
- At this time, just days away from rockets and drones colliding over this conflicted land of the past, present and future.
- To go with other believers who intentionally came to pray in this land and for it’s present day people.
- To go with the Center for Holy Land Studies tour that married a deep experience of the places and happenings from scripture to a live, learning environment of unlimited questions and Biblical insights.
- To pray for the world’s poor and suffering from Jerusalem, perhaps the most contested city on earth on 12/12/12.
From Caesarea to Mount Carmel, Capernaum to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth to the Dead Sea and Qumran (where the scrolls were found), Bethlehem to Jerusalem, I was engrossed with the events recorded in the Bible that happened on the landscape beneath and around me. Our tour guides relished in giving a full context of the scripture from details of the time period and where events happened such as the ancient road to Jericho where the Good Samaritan account took place.
A personal highlight was being baptized in the Jordan River as my Savior Jesus had done over two centuries ago. I felt such joy and peace in this rebirth of surrender in these same waters! A night cruise with worship and periods of prayerful silence around the Sea of Galilee brought me to marvel that Jesus and Peter walked on this water. What person was used by God to preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls for us to learn and affirm the Biblical books recorded? God ordained this discovery in modern days.
In Nazareth we learned of the caves where families lived in a land with less wood among the ample stones. Where David tended flocks possibly inspiring the the 23rd Psalm brings deeper appreciation of I SHALL NOT WANT as wilderness expanse is all around. And Jerusalem is a destination of experiencing Jesus: gate where he would have walked through from the temple, healing ministry, Mount of Olives before his arrest, Pilate, knowing he bled and died in physical flesh and arose again all in this old, sacred city.
Present day Israel is a witness of provision and favor. The people are endowed with wisdom to make best use of what God provides them. The produce at the Jerusalem market must be experienced in sight and taste...really! The Holocaust museum in Jerusalem gravely walks through the progression of the assault on the Jewish population; it has to be shared to understand and thus enlist to protect.
I left Israel with a prayerful heart for it’s future and to come back to intercede and study more. I never felt fearful while on tour; God has our days numbered. Yet, I felt spiritual oppression at times in this land with many enemies and much at stake scripturally. So I commit to watch:
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. - Isaiah 62: 6-7
Israel is a great place to spark your prayer life from the present suffering in the world, battlegrounds of the Bible to modern day current events and to scriptural prophecies. If Israel is on your bucket list too, I know God will use it to help you know Him better. And maybe that could help the world be drawn to Him too.