Visit to Israel – perspectives from the Bible

What does visiting the land of Israel mean for a Christian visitor? NIFI supporter, Chris Perver, shares his thoughts from a recent trip – glimpses into the Biblical past and into the future.

Chris Perver

 

Members of NIFI may have different reasons for supporting Israel. For
many Jewish people, the land of Israel is home, and represents the
fulfilment of an unbreakable promise made by God to the forefathers of
the nation.

Galilee Chris perver

 

As a Christian, the land of Israel and the Jewish people
also hold a very special place in my heart.

Birds Israel Chris Perver

For it is through the Jewish
people that God chose to reveal Himself to the world, and to restore
man’s broken relationship with his Creator (Isaiah 49:6). It is through
the Jewish people that God gave us the Scriptures, both the Tanach and
the New Testament. And it is through the Jewish people that the promised
Messiah would come. Today the Jewish people are coming back to the land
that God gave to their fathers, fulfilling prophecies that were written
in the Bible over two thousand years ago. Yet the Bible speaks of so
much more that is to take place concerning the nation of Israel. This is
why I love Israel and the Jewish people.

I have visited Israel on four occasions and seen many of the places
mentioned in the Bible. I’d just like to share a few pictures of some of
those places from my recent visit, and relate their significance for
Christians and Jews alike.

TempleMount Chris Perver 1

Perhaps the most significant place in the land of Israel is the Temple
Mount itself. It was here that Abraham’s faith was tested by God in the
offering up of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2). It was here that Solomon
built the First Temple (2nd Chronicles 3:1), and it was here that the
Second Temple once stood (Ezra 3). The Bible also predicts that a Third
Temple will one day be erected in this place (Ezekiel 40-48). There are
differing opinions as to the exact location of the previous Temples.
Slightly to the north of the present day Dome of the Rock there is a
smaller dome called the Dome of the Spirits. Beneath this dome, the
bedrock of Mount Moriah lies exposed. Unlike the Dome of the Rock, the
Dome of the Spirits lines up with the eastern and western gates of the
Temple Mount, and some believe that this could be the place where the
Holy of Holies was located.

 

EasternGate Chris

The eastern gate of the Temple Mount is another extremely significant
place. The Tanach records in Ezekiel 44:2 that the eastern gate of the
Temple Mount would be shut, and that no man would enter in by it because
the God of Israel had entered in by it. Today the eastern gate is the
only gate of the Old City that remains closed. Ottoman Sultan Sulieman
the Magnificent sealed the gate in 1541, possibly in response to rumours
that a Jewish Messiah was about to appear. During the Six Day War
Israeli soldiers briefly considered opening the gate using explosives to
aid the battle for Jerusalem. Christians and Jews believe that when the
Messiah comes, He will enter into the Temple through this gate.

MtOlives Chris Perver 2

Zechariah 14 speaks about the place where the Messiah will come to when
the final battle over Judah and Jerusalem commences… the Mount of
Olives. There are many places in Israel where we are able get a glimpse
of events in the past. This is one place where we can also get a glimpse
of things that are yet to come.

The Western Wall is part of the outer retaining wall that Herod built
when he expanded the Temple Mount area. It’s construction is a fantastic
feat of engineering. Some of the foundation stones of the wall weight in
excess of 500 tonnes, and can be viewed via the underground tunnels that
have been excavated in recent years. It is still possible to see some of
the Temple stones that were cast down by the Roman soldiers during the
Jewish revolt, fulfilling prophecies in the book of Daniel and in the
New Testament concerning the Second Temple’s destruction. Today, in the
absence of a rebuilt Temple, the Western Wall has become the focal point
for the aspirations of many of the Jewish people.

Masada Chris Perver

Masada is another one of those places where history has left its mark
for all to see. It was here that Herod built his southern palace, which
was later to become the last bastion of the Jewish rebellion fighting
against Rome. Today Masada has become a national symbol of Israel. The
Roman armies that conquered the mountain-top fortress have long since
gone, yet the Jewish people live on – just as the Bible predicted
(Ezekiel 37:12).

YadVashem_S

The words Yad VaShem, ‘a memorial and a name’, are taken from Isaiah
56:5, where God promises to make a place of remembrance for the
righteous that keep His covenant. Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial in
Jerusalem, is such a place for the millions of Jews that were persecuted
and murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. Visiting the
museum is a sombre experience, but it is moving to see young Israeli
soldiers visiting Yad VaShem. There is a kind of victory here. Like
Masada, the enemies of the Jewish people are gone, but Israel still
lives. It’s not permitted to take photos in Yad VaShem itself, but the
verse written above the gateway to the memorial speaks volumes.

Qumran Chris Perver

In 1947, just one year before the state of Israel was reborn, a Bedouin
shepherd boy tossed a stone into one of the caves in the mountains of
Qumran. The sound of breaking pottery revealed one of the greatest
archaeological discoveries of recent times – the Dead Sea Scrolls. The
Essenes, a Jewish sect that lived near the Dead Sea in the first
century, had hidden dozens of scrolls in the mountains prior to the
Jewish revolt. In these jars, archaeologists discovered fragments of
every book of the Tanach (apart from Esther), including the complete
scroll of Isaiah, which can now be viewed at the Israel Museum and
online.

The Dead Sea is another one of those places where we can look thousands
of years into the past as well as into the future. The Bible tells us in
Genesis that the area of the Dead Sea was once like the garden of Eden
(Genesis 13:10). But since the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah the
region has been under a curse. The book of Ezekiel tells of a day when
the waters of the Dead Sea will be healed, and fishermen will catch fish
by the shore of En Gedi. Ezekiel 47:11 also mentions that part of the
Dead Sea would not be healed, but would be given to salt. Today the Dead
Sea is divided in two parts, the lower part being used for salt
production, just like the Bible said. The Israeli government has tried
on numerous occasions to bring water from the Mediterranean and the Red
Sea to the Dead Sea to try and prevent it from drying up. But the Bible
says that when the Messiah comes, an underground spring issuing out of
the Temple Mount will bring life to the Dead Sea.

Galilee Chris perver

Galilee is one of my favourite places in the land of Israel. Perhaps
because it is so peaceful and beautiful, and also because the Lord spent
so much of His time here. In Isaiah 9:2 we read concerning this place,
that the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. I am so
thankful that through the Jewish people and their book, the Bible, I
have come to know the one who is the Light of the World.

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