Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What I learned in Israel

Israel has always been something that I had wanted to see in my lifetime, but not a trip that I had ever seriously considered planning. A guy named Phil Johnson came and spoke at church a year or two ago and his presentation of end time prophesy and his knowledge of that area of the world really caught my attention. We got to hear him speak again a few months back and he mentioned this trip that he was offering through his company, Global Next http://www.globalnext.org/. We both were pretty interested in going over there with someone who had such a great knowledge of the area, but also such a focus on current events and how they fit into biblical prophesy today. So, we decided to go for it! Going into the trip I really did not know much about the going ons of the middle east, I knew that Israel was God's chosen land and that the Jews were His people, but beyond that I really could not have had an intelligent conversation about it. For my own sake, I want to take a few minutes to write down a brief summary of how Israel is what it is today. I will be taking a lot of the info out of the book we received at the conference.

I. God Promises Abraham many descendants: Abraham lived around 2100 BC in what is now Iraq. God told him to move to Canaan, with later became Israel. God rewarded his faith, making him the father of a great nation, Israel.

II. Exodus from Egypt: 1446 BC - after 400 yrs of enslavement, the Jews, led by Moses, leave Egypt and head toward the land of Canaan, later named Israel. The Jews wandered for 40 yrs prior to reaching Canaan.

III. David becomes king of Israel: 1010 BC - David is king of Israel and reigns for 40 yrs, he expands the size of Israel.

IV. Solomon Builds the Temple - 970 BC - He builds the first temple in honor of God.

V. Babylon destroys Jerusalem and the temple - 586 BC - Jews are taken captive to Babylon and the temple is destroyed

VI. Second temple is dedicated - 516 BC -70 yrs after the captivity in Babylon, the Jews were able to rebuild their temple. This temple was smaller than the first and paled in comparison to what it once was. When Herod the Great ruled he actually added on to the second temple and made it an incredible structure. This is the temple that Jesus would have gone to.

VII. Jesus is born in Bethlehem - 5 BC - Fulfilled a prophecy delivered by Micah, about 700 yrs beforehand (Micah 5:2)

XIII. Jesus is crucified - 28 AD

IX. Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple - 70 AD - The roman army, under Titus, destroys Jerusalem and the temple. This event dispersed the Jews around the world. According to Josephus, about 1.1 million Jews were killed, others were taken as slaves.

X. Zionist movement begins - late 1800's - Zionist movement gains momentum in late 1800's among Jews living in Europe. They begin a quest to re-establish an independent Israel. Jews begin returning to ancient homeland of Israel, which at the time was called Palestine, and occupied by the Palestinians.

XI. 6 million Jews murdered by Nazis - 1933-1944 - During the 30's-40's Jews are persecuted by Hitler. Many move to Palestine. International sympathy for the Zionist quest to re-establish a Jewish homeland increases.

XII. Jews declare independence of Israel - May 14, 1948 - The Palestinian territory that the Jews claimed was under the rule of the British at that time. Israel was reestablished world wide as a state and a Jewish nation. War with surrounding nations followed this and approximately 80% of the Arab population that lived in Israel fled to refugee camps that are still in place today. Primarily these areas are the Gaza strip and the West Bank in Israel. Jerusalem though remained in control of Jordan.

XIII. Six Day War: 1967 - Jews capture the holy city of Jerusalem - Provoked to war by Egypt and other surrounding countries, the Jews enter into 6 days of fighting with every surrounding country only to come out victorious. They regained Jerusalem and expanded their territory. Since then, Israel has been involved in several more wars. They have gained territory and given it back, made peace with Egypt and Jordan.

Current Day - Today, Jerusalem is a religious center point for 3 of the worlds major religions. Judaism, Muslim and Christianity. The Jews view it as their God given land and the place of worship from the time of Solomon. To the Muslims, Jerusalem is 3rd holiest city, behind Mecca and Medina. It is sacred to them because according to them, it is where Muhammad was brought for his "Night Journey" that God took him on. It is believed that He was taken up to heaven from the rock that Abraham sacrificed Issac on, making the city holy to them. Then obviously it is a center point for the New Testament and future events in the Bible, thus important to Christians.

Socially, Israel is free, but there is an oppressed people group living in its walls. Those Palestinians that fled in 1948 are still cut off from the rest of the world. Those that live inside the fences of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are literally stuck there. There is no way out for them. If you are born there, you die there. You can see where the tension between the Jews and Palestinians comes from. They both feel like the land of Israel is theirs and that they both have rights to it. The terrorist organizations are fighting for a right to return to their land and houses that were taken away from them. I'm not condoning the behavior at all, just saying that I have new perspective on the "why" of why they do it. It is a complicated, messy situation that does not seem to have a solution, but the Bible has already made that clear. Obviously, this was very brief and there is a lot more that has gone into getting Israel to its current situation, but hopefully the highlights give a good enough picture.

These 2 pics are of the West Wall or Wailing Wall of the temple. It is all that is left of the temple. It is where the Jews go to pray. It was very sad to see the sadness of them, there were multiple women (there was a men's and women's side of the wall) praying earnestly, crying the whole time. It's so sad to see that they are God's people, but have missed Him.

This is Paul on one of the streets in the "Old City", this is what they call the part of the city that is within the old city walls. It is a lot of narrow streets, stone roads and tons of vendors selling a bunch of stuff.

On our way to Nazareth, we passed Megiddo. This is a valley outside of Jerusalem, in northern Israel. It is though to be the area where the battle of Armageddon will occur. Kind of crazy to think about....

This was a sign hanging up outside the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth.

Here is the town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. Obviously it has changed a little bit, but never the less, here it is!

This is a pic inside the Church of Annunciation. This shows a cave that is believed to be where the Angel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. They built the church on top of the site. I noticed on this trip that the Catholic church likes to build churches on top of things. There will be many more examples to come!

This is a site right outside of the church. It is believed to be a house from the time of Jesus. You can see a cave like structure down under the fence.

Here are Paul and I standing on top of Mt. Arbel. From here you can see the Sea of Galilee, the town you see just down to the left is where Mary Magdeline was from. This is thought to be the area where Jesus walked on water and where he fed the 5000.

We ate at a restraunt right on the Sea of Galilee. We were brought there to eat St. Peters Fish, which is the type of fish that Peter caught as a fisherman in that very sea. In the spirit of the trip, I though I should eat it and not stay safe with the other entree option, which was a chicken kabob. I will admit something.....I am not much of a cusser, but if I am honset, a few curse words flew through my head at the sight of some of the food we were offered. Lucky for me I can put a smile on my face even when I am crying inside!!! As scary as this fish looked, it really wasn't that bad, once I got past the fact that it was staring at me as I ate it.

Our next stop was at Capernaum, located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the city where Jesus spent 3 yrs of his public ministry. This structure below is though to be Peters house for various reasons. The smaller circle structure in the middle was actually the house, the larger stone structure surrounding it was built later as a church. There is a large structure that was built on top of this site by the Catholic Church.

This was the synagogue in Capernum. It is not the actual one that Jesus would have gone to, this one was brought in later and built on top of the old one. Still, pretty neat to see.

The Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized.

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