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This year in Jerusalem! That was our prayer, and the Lord opened the door for us to go. We celebrated Thanksgiving week in Israel with the Daystar Television Network. While we have read of the places, people, and events of the Bible, when on location, they come to life in Technicolor.
Sea of Galilee
Scanning the hillside, we envisioned Jesus teaching the multitude at the Sea of Galilee. It is no longer a mystery how all could hear Him in the expansive valley leading up from the shore to the Mount of Beatitudes is a natural amphitheater with perfect acoustics.
Driving around the 13-mile-long "sea" is a quick day's ride by bus with stops along the way, but Jesus walked or used a boat to cross. A short boat ride and fish lunch by the Sea of Galilee inspires one to study again the Lord's many parables drawn from life in the first century, yet revealing timeless lessons.
The swirling winds from the black basalt volcanic mountains of the Golan Heights can suddenly transform the lake's placid waters into a churning caldron. One stormy night, the disciples were caught in a violent squall. Fearing for their lives as the waves swamped the boat, they saw Jesus walking to them on water! Nothing is beyond His authority as He calmed even the raging sea. Was He telling us He will be with us, too, in the midst of our storms?
In Capernaum one senses the excitement of the people hustling to Peter's house just a stone's throw from the Synagogue where they had seen the healing Rabbi. Those considered "untouchables" had to go to the house after sunset to avoid the crowds. They wanted to be healed! And Jesus met their needs.
The Jordan River
We journeyed to the Jordan River to be baptized at the traditional site where Jesus was baptized. He was an observant Jewish rabbi who celebrated the Jewish feasts and practiced all their traditions. Baptism was a symbol of ritual cleansing that would assume even greater significance as a representation of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. With immersion, one totally surrenders to be reborn spiritually, just as He did and as He commanded. Speaking from heaven, God the Father confirmed that Jesus is His only son, just as Isaac was to Abraham, whose obedience foreshadowed God's willingness to sacrifice Jesus for us, as prophesied in scripture. (Psalm 2:7, Genesis 22:2, Isaiah 42:1)
Caesarea & Megiddo
We journeyed to Caesarea, the capital of the Roman province of Judea, where the ruins of Herod's seaside palace give a sense of the grandeur and indulgence of the ruling kings and governors. Not far from there, we visited Megiddo Valley, where the armies of the final Tribulation battle will gather. Here one realizes that Israel truly is the center of the world. Dominating the ancient trade routes, this strategic place time and again was the site of great battles for control of the world; in the end time it will again draw the world's armies to go up against Jerusalem. The last great battle will be won by Jesus upon his Second Coming to the Mount of Olives. While terrifying in one sense, there is hope for the nations who turn to the King of Kings, for His kingdom shall be established on earth as in heaven. His First Coming proved this prophetic truth.
Dead Sea, Qumran & Masada
From Jerusalem we journeyed to the Dead Sea, Qumran, and Masada in the Negev Desert. At Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouin shepherd boys in 1947, proving the Bible we read today is the same as the first century Bible!
At Masada, we viewed the remains of Herod's desert castle and fortress. There after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, a remnant of 960 rebel Jews and their families held out for 3 years against the Roman legends 10,000 strong.
Bethlehem & Jerusalem
We journeyed to Bethlehem in the West Bank in Judea where Jesus was born. In Jerusalem we visited the Mount of Olives where Jesus often retreated to rest and pray with His disciples. From there, He had a panoramic view of His beloved city. "How often," He said, "I wanted to gather you like a hen gathers her chicks." We went to the upper room of the last Passover supper, the place of crucifixion, and the Garden Tomb.
From Bethlehem to Capernaum to Jerusalem to Golgotha, we journeyed the paths He took. Walking where Jesus walked is a great privilege. Gaining perspective of ancient history in the very land where it unfolded is unforgettable. Gaining insight into prophetic truth and standing where the greatest of all prophets stood is profoundly humbling. Remembering that Jesus is Emmanuel, "God with us," one realizes that one need not journey to Israel to walk with Him.
Walking with Emmanuel
Regardless of your country, your social position, or your religious background, He will walk with you. In the sinking boat amidst that tumultuous storm, Peter said, "If it is you Lord, call to me to come to you on the water." Jesus said, "Come." Come, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will carry your burden. Come, all who are frightened and uncertain, and I will give you hope. Come, all who are weary and lonely, and I will give you rest. Jesus is our Emmanuel, our daily walking companion. He never tires, never fails, never disappoints. No time or place constraints prevent us from walking with Jesus. No respecter of persons, He is always available. This Christmas, call to Jesus and He will walk with you.
By Sheryl Dawson