Maybe you’re like me and you grew up with the companionship of Bible stories all the way from Sunday school and cartoon movies to daily devotionals and weekly sermons. The images you saw of those critical characters and powerful places looked a lot like the comic book picture Bible in your mind’s eye. Or maybe when you imagine Jesus calming the storm, you still envision the Bible movie cartoon character that said aloud the simple message of “Peace be still.”
Perhaps you’ve studied layers of language from David’s Psalms, examining and imagining what the “valley of the shadow of death” must have really looked like here on the earth we walk on. You’ve come to understand the ancient language root words like adamah (land) in Hebrew or agape (love) in Greek. We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but he also grew up in Nazareth, preached in the Galilee, and then, walked the streets of Jerusalem to worship at the temple and to ultimately be crucified. Maybe you’ve seen it on maps, but really, do you know how it fits together – the geography, the distance, the terrain, the journey?
Coming here, to Israel, the Land, you’ll experience something you maybe didn’t even know you were missing. You’ll experience the words on the page alive in person. You know God, you know his love, you embrace faith and we’re not saying that’s going to change. What we are saying is that this journey brings your Bible to life in a way that might be difficult to imagine. You’ll go from seeing it in black and white to seeing it (and experiencing it) … in full color.
OK, you’re not here yet, and maybe this description feels a little, well, abstract. What we’re saying is, as you prepare, get ready to experience the Bible with your five senses. (Yes, I really mean all five!) Imagine… Imagine…See and stand on the steps leading up to the same temple (2nd temple) where Jesus taught. But also notice the many cloaked peoples of Jewish, Arab, and Christian backgrounds filling the cobblestone streets with different traditions, languages, and rituals in search for God. See and stand on the steps leading up to the same temple (2nd temple) where Jesus taught. But also notice the many cloaked peoples of Jewish, Arab, and Christian backgrounds filling the cobblestone streets with different traditions, languages, and rituals in search for God. Hear praise songs in the original language of worship and the emphatic conversation in Hebrew’s modern version on the streets of Jerusalem. But also, hear the buzz and murmur of the traditional Jewish prayers recited at least three times a day.Taste the bread and wine of Jesus’ sacrifice here where the last supper happened. But also eat of the traditional local food with its vibrant flavours and middle-eastern spices. Smell the subtle fragrance of the Sea of Galilee as you board the boat imagining what it must’ve smelled like in Jesus’ time. But also breathe in the potent wafts of spiced Arabic style coffee (that’s cardamom by the way!) that bear the invitation for a long seated conversation with friends who are like family. Touch the walls (the Western Wall) that bordered the temple, and today bear the tears of Jews throughout history crying for redemption, crying for healing, crying for a savior. But also grab the hand of the person you connected with that lives their everyday life here either by choice or obligation. The words of the Bible are alive filled with power and meaning for the individual to the masses, for the poor and forgotten, all the way to the wealthy and esteemed. Here’s your chance to explore this reality on a whole new level with your feet on this ground, interacting with the Land of the Bible, and the Israel of today.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.