Having made 45 trips to Israel, I thought I would share with you some thoughts about why I think it is important for Christians to make such a pilgrimage.
The first reason relates to the fact that Israel is the only land in all the world that is referred to in the Scriptures as Holy Land. One of the key meanings of the word — holy — is to be set apart. Israel meets that qualification. It has been set apart by what has happened there in the past and what is going to occur there in the future. It is where God became flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, and it is where Jesus spilled His precious blood for the sins of mankind. It is where Jesus will soon return and where He will reign over all the world.
The land of Israel is the center of the cosmos, because it is where the battle between God and Satan is focused. It is the center of the nations because the fate of the world hangs on the fate of this land. All the nations of the world are supernaturally obsessed with it, and the Bible says that in the end times all the nations will come against it. That prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes.
When you stand on the Mount of Olives and you look out across the Kidron Valley at the ancient city of Jerusalem, you can sense in your spirit that you are at the center of history. You can spiritually discern that you are standing on the most sacred real estate on planet earth. It is an awesome and humbling experience that will draw you closer to the Lord and motivate you to develop and maintain an eternal perspective. That, of course, is all very subjective, and the intensity of the experience can vary from person to person.
More objectively, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land will make the Bible come alive to you in a very special and meaningful way. Never again will Jaffa, Capernaum, Jericho and Jerusalem be mere words on a page. Rather, they will be vivid geographical locations that live in your heart because you have actually walked their streets. The mere mention of these places will cause a mental image to spring up into your mind, and you will have a sense of the town’s size, its location, and its relation to other sites.
Likewise, the historical reality of Jesus will become more meaningful to you as you walk where He walked and see and sense what He experienced. For example, it is awesome to stand in front of the Garden Tomb and reflect on the meaning of His resurrection. You will marvel that a man who had no money, no political power, and who preached for only three years in a tiny country without the aid of radio or television could change the history of the world and impact the lives of countless millions. You will get a feel for His humanity while appreciating even more profoundly His divinity.
Finally, a pilgrimage will also force you to take a hard look at yourself and your relationship with God. You will find yourself searching your soul and renewing your commitment to Jesus. You will sense a call to stop playing church and to get serious about your relationship with Jesus. Perhaps the best summary statement I have ever heard about the impact of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is the one that said, “It converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor.”
So come, join us on a tour of Israel this June 6-17, 2015, and share in the passion for God’s living word!