The past two days have been full of beauty and awe.
As I try to decide the highlights, I am stumped because its all so wonderful.
First, know that Israel is about the size of New Jersey. This explains how Jesus and the disciples were able to walk all over the place, there wasn’t a whole lot of ground to cover. We are becoming more familiar with the land as we travel between holy sites, many of the same roads are used and we are feeling more and more at home.
This land is BEAUTIFUL. I really cant explain the beauty here. So far, my most beautiful memory is the valley of Armageddon, or Meggiddo. You wouldn’t believe that this valley, a vast expanse to the west of Galilee, used to be a malaria infested swamp. Since the statehood of Israel (60 years ago), the Jews who returned to the land turned this valley into a beautiful plain of crops, growing all kinds of foods, and is now knows as the breadbasket of Israel. This is amazing. The vegetation in Israel will take your breath away. We’ve seen the most beautiful flowers, oliver trees everywhere, and green lush fields at every turn. This is in and around the plains of Galilee. We have not traveled south to Masada or the Dead Sea so it will be fun to contrast the land once that time comes. But as we gaze on the beauty of Israel, we are seeing the words of Isaiah come to life:
Joy of the Redeemed
1 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it. [a]
9 No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Megiddo is also prophesied to be the place where Armageddon will go down in the last days. To look out over this vast plain, and to drive through it, is so difficult to imagine what will happen there in future times. Thats probably the craziest thing about this trip, we are seeing the past, experiencing the present, and imagining the future, all at once.