This time exactly twenty years ago, Renee and I and a group of other pastors had just returned from a most amazing time in the Holy Land. At 28 years old and only a couple of years into full time ministry, I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to tour the land of the Bible and visit many of the places we read about in the Holy Scriptures and in Jewish history. From taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, to visiting Mount Carmel where Elijah confronted 450 prophets of Baal in a dramatic showdown, to walking the streets of Jerusalem, to riding a cable car to the top of Masada, to viewing the Dead Sea caves, to getting our feet wet in the Dead Sea which is the lowest exposed land area on Earth at 1,400 feet below sea level, and so much more, our time in Israel was fascinating. Visiting the Holy Land is not only a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage, but it will indeed change and bring to life how you read and comprehend the Bible.
Even though I’ve visited the Holy Land, I continue to read and learn about what life was like in ancient Israel to further inform and expand my understanding of the Bible. I just finished this book by Victor Matthews that I would recommend to you if a) you’ve not been to Israel, and b) if you are a serious student of the Bible. You will gain a greater understanding of the historical geography of the region, insights into archaeological discoveries, ancient manuscripts and literary genres, ethnoarchaeology (which is the ethnographic study of people groups for archaeological reconstruction), historiography, topography, climate, and the political power structures the Israelites had to deal with. The more we know about ancient Israel and our Jewish foundations, the greater appreciation we will have for our Christian heritage. That being said, I’m thrilled that our church will be hosting a full and complete Seder Passover Meal and Presentation on Good Friday, April 10, 2020 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. I hope you can join us!