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|Martin Barillas||August 30th 2016|
For centuries, not only Jews but also Christians have made pilgrimages to Jerusalem -- that City of Peace that has nevertheless seen countless wars and strife over the centuries. It is the city where Jews aspire to find their final resting place and be among those at the dawn of the end of Time when the Messiah reigns. Jerusalem is for Christians the place of the Passion and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is for sentiment and in the hope of spiritual rebirth that Christians have sojourned to the Holy Places and the Holy Land in order to walk where Jesus did and where he died and was resurrected.
So important is Jerusalem to Christians that the First Crusade brought Europeans crusaders at great personal cost to the Holy Land one thousand years ago to ensure the safety of Christian pilgrims who were enslaved and taxed by the Muslim overlords who had wrested it from Byzantine Christian control. Many years later, the modern State of Israel guarantees access to the Holy Places in a manner worthy of respect, admiration, and gratitude.
Those who share the Christian faith should not hesitate in contemplating a pilgrimage to Israel. Going there is not essential to the Faith, of course, but seeing the places where the Christ lived and preached is a great aid to the faithful and a challenge to those without faith. One can go there if only to beg the God of Israel, of Moses and Jesus Christ for forgiveness and in the hope of comity in a world so darkened by the lack of faith and sundered morality.
There are countless reasons why Christians should visit Israel. Not only is Israel a country of immense beauty, history, and culture, but it is also the biblical Holy Land — the place where Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection took place. For these reasons, millions of Christians have traveled to Israel to make a pilgrimage to the place where “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”. If you travel to Israel, you will have the opportunity to walk along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, pray at the walls of the original Temple of Jerusalem, and reflect within the Garden of Gethsemane. You will also have the chance to walk the same stone paths that Jesus walked.
Christians who have visited the land of the Bible have had their faith and biblical knowledge enhanced in transformative ways. They have said their lives were forever changed because of their visit.
Here are six reasons why a trip to Israel will change your life.
1) The Bible Will Come Alive
As you walk down the same roads that Jesus did during His earthly ministry, the Bible will come alive! You will no longer have to imagine the places, names and events in the Bible. These will now become real, living images. You will be able to feel the words of Scripture, visit archaeological remains of many of the cities, trace the stories in Scripture on maps and explore where the stories of the Bible all began. The biblical places and events you have read about in the Bible will no longer seem a world away; the pages of your Bible will be made more alive and real.
2) You Will Experience God’s Presence in a New Way
A spiritual pilgrimage is an opportunity to break away from your regular routine to concentrate on your spiritual life without distractions — a time for prayer and meditation, learning and enrichment. It is the pilgrimage that surpasses all others. While we can pray anywhere in the world and experience Jesus’ presence in our lives, a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel will allow you to experience God’s presence in a whole new way. Many Christians who have traveled to the Holy Land have said that during their travels to various locations, they felt God’s presence around them. Israel is the perfect retreat, the perfect place to seek the Lord, the only place to walk where Jesus walked and encounter the source for the parables He used from everyday life and to hear His word as though for the first time.
3) It Will Change Your Understanding
A journey to Israel will provide you with a deeper, clearer and more vibrant understanding of the Bible. So many Christians focus on the Bible for its spiritual meaning and forget that the Bible is also historical text. At a time when the Bible is under attack, a visit to Israel can strengthen your understanding of the Bible and the veracity of the history and stories contained within it. Jesus said the Gospel would go out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth, and it is in Jerusalem where some of the most pivotal events of the Bible take place. Your understanding of Scripture will grow with every step you take in the land of Israel.
4) You Will Hear Powerful Testimonies of God at Work
If you travel to Israel and listen to the stories of local believers, you will hear powerful testimonies of God at work in their lives. Some will share how the Lord has revealed Himself through dreams and visions. Others will share how they’ve witnessed miraculous occurrences. These stories will inspire you. Visiting Israel is also an opportunity to discover ways you and your church can partner with local ministries to aid in God’s calling to help the people who live here. As Scripture says, you will be blessed by being a blessing to the people of Israel.
5) You Can Pray More Effectively for Israel and the World
While we know from Scripture that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, many Christians don’t understand the connection between Israel and the Church. Throughout the Bible, God calls for the peace of Israel and commands our support and aid of Israel. Israel is precious to God, the apple of His eye, chosen by Him among all other nations; He holds them in the strength of His own hands. He also instructs us to be the watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem and pray day and night until God’s promises to the Jewish people, which will bless the world, are fulfilled. A trip to Israel will allow you to meet Israelis face to face and speak encouragement to them. Your firsthand experiences in Israel will help you to pray more effectively for Israel, the region and the world.
6) Your Heart Will Be Opened
If you are eager to deepen your relationship with God and discover new facets of your faith, Israel is the place to visit. Not only will your relationship with Scripture change after your visit, but also your relationship with God. Once you have had the opportunity to visit the sites of the Bible, walk on holy ground, and reflect in the places where Jesus traveled and prayed, you can begin to search His Word with more passion and wonder and open your heart to God’s incredible power. You will be surrounded by examples of fulfilled prophecy and see that God is keeping His promises to Israel. Your visit will also allow you to see God’s faithfulness and the truth of His Word.
A trip to Israel will transform your life in ways that you couldn’t imagine. It isn’t until you visit the Holy Land for yourself that you can truly appreciate it. If you have the time and the means to go to Israel, please go, especially if you want to grow in your faith and biblical understanding. Consider taking a trip to the Holy Land of the Bible today.
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