Just returned from another absolutely amazing trip to Israel. I’m still blown away that we were able to take 35 people from Calvary Chapel El Monte! I am so blessed that we have a body who loves Israel and whose heart is set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5).
Some people wonder why we go to Israel. Let me give you six reasons off the top of my head.
1. It adds another dimension to your Bible. You will now read about cities, mountains, valleys, and places that you’ve actually seen with your own eyes, touched with your own hands, walked with you own feet, and even kissed with your own lips (I couldn’t help but kiss the southern steps where Jesus walked and taught). When you actually walk where Jesus walked, you read those portions of Scripture with a deeper dimension, a connection to the illumination, that you can only have by having been there. Have you ever heard that saying, “You had to be there?” It’s true!
2. The fellowship with others on the same pilgrimage is indescribable! Discovering it together, seeing the looks on people’s faces when they see Jerusalem for the first time. The Sea of Galilee, Joppa Port, the Dead Sea, the rock at Caesarea Philippi, or the cave they believed that led to Hell, as well as the caves of En Gedi. The Garden of Gethsemane, the view from the Mount of Olives, Calvary, and the Garden Tomb (it’s still empty). Experiencing all this with other believers creates the bond of a lifetime. There’s an inherent fun and fellowship you cannot find, literally, anywhere else in the world.
3. We learn so much about Israel and Judaism. We’re always blessed with excellent tour guides who teach us all along the way. If you think about it, in one sense, Christianity is building upon the foundation of Judaism. It’s the fulfillment of the promises, it’s the substance of the shadows, it’s the completion of the covenant. It really is beneficial to our Christian lives to know as much as we can about Jewish life. The Tanach, the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Mizveh, the Phylacteries, the teachings of the Rabbis provide a wealth of symbolism that benefits our walk as Christians when we take the time to discover them. I believe that in one sense, God still speaks to us through the Jews.
4. We learn about history. As we visit ancient buildings, ruins, excavations, and engage in discussions we will be blessed and challenged by the rich history we have as a church and even the bigger picture of the history of mankind.
5. There’s something about those tangible expressions of faith. Or perhaps a better way to say it is that sometimes “touching it” brings out our faith. In my corresponding picture I’m at the Western Wall. Every time I touch the wall God touches me – and the tears begin to flow followed by prayers that seem to come from the heart in ways that I can’t express anywhere else. Oftentimes in the Bible we see people “touching” in order to stimulate their faith (Matthew 9:20-21; 14:36; Mark 6:56) for Christians today, a trip to Israel embodies that “touch.”
6. God blesses those who bless His people (Genesis 12:3). A pilgrimage to Israel is one way of supporting the Jews, and God’s promise is true, He will bless those who take the time and invest their resources to bless Israel.
Pray about coming with us next time. As Pastor Chuck Smith used to say, “A trip to Israel is the equivalent to two years of seminary.” Amen! Papa Chuck was so right!
Psalm 48:8 (NLT) “We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It is the city of our God; He will make it safe forever.”
Your brother in Christ,