At this very moment I am sitting at a small wooden desk. To my left is a window that looks out onto a body of water. It’s no ordinary body of water. Mountains surround it on almost all sides. As the sun goes down my eyes soak in the beauty of the gray surface of the water against the backdrop of the mountains extending just beyond its edge. By this time the setting sun has engulfed the range in a fiery, amber light.
The beauty alone is compelling enough to move my heart to lift a prayer and a praise to God. But knowing that this water is the famous Sea of Galilee is overwhelming. Knowing that the soil my feet are treading upon is the very soil where Jesus did the majority of his ministry is more than my mind can digest all at once. This is a special moment.
Many of you know that CrossExamined.org and Living Passages have been planning a Footsteps of Jesus Tour in Israel for the summer. The plan was for thirty-five of us to meet yesterday in Tel-Aviv to begin a long and epic list of biblically significant destinations. We have just concluded our first day of our tour. I’ll be posting updates so that you can also take part in the trip.
Here goes a fly-by-summary of our first day.
We started out in Shiloh. In the Old Testament after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to occupy the Promise Land, Shiloh is the place where the Tabernacle of God had it’s first permanent resting place. The Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant definitely crossed over these grounds. This is also where Hannah prayed for a son before she became pregnant with Samuel as well as where Eli trained Samuel for a large portion of his childhood.
Next we toured through the West Bank. We saw cites built by Herod the Great and a church that is thought to have been the final resting place of John the Baptist’s body. We walked up Mount Gerizim and looked across the valley to Mount Ebal. Here Moses commanded the Israelites to stand, six tribes on Mt. Gerizim and the other six tribes on Mt. Ebal. They were to shout out the blessings and curses that awaited them depending on whether they acted towards God with obedience or rebellion. Reading Deuteronomy 27:12-13 now is a completely different experience.
Something else special about Gerizim is that just below us in the valley between Gerizim and Ebal is Jacob’s well. Remember in John 4 when Jesus approached the Samaritan women at Jacob’s well for water? In verse 20 she refers to Mount Gerizim by saying that her ancestors worshiped on “this” mountain. We were standing on that very Mountain. The woman at the well probably would never have been able to fathom that more than 2000 years later, this mountain is still the place where the few surviving Samaritan descendants continue to worship to this day.
Finally we made our way down the mountain to Jacob’s Well. Today an orthodox church has been built around the well. We entered the church quietly and then proceeded down another staircase below the floor to the well. The well is about 130 ft. deep.We drank the cool and pure water thinking about how Jesus’ physical thirst was quenched by the water of this very well. He sat on this very ledge.
I look forward to sharing our adventures with you again tomorrow.
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