The Case for Christians to Visit Israel
It’s fascinating to see Israel through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Many Christians react with child-like excitement and wonder, “why didn’t I come years ago?” But like the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree (or visit Israel) was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.
Several pastors and leaders have even acknowledged unwittingly misinterpreting the Word in their sermons from ignorance about the Land of the Bible. While we don’t hold it against them, we do hope it will make everyone think twice about what they could possibly be missing.
George O. Wood, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, has been to Israel more than 40 times! He believes in the experience so much that he initiated a program. It enables Bible students in that denomination to visit Israel at least once in their lifetime.
So, consider also these 7 compelling reasons why visit Israel as a Christian— especially if you are a pastor or Bible teacher.
1. The Bible will vividly come to life for Christians visiting Israel.
And you’ll never read the Bible the same again. You can walk where Jesus walked and trek the land where Joshua battled, Elijah called down fire and King David reigned.
The land and people, the sights, sounds and smells will forever influence you. These encounters will shape the way you understand, interpret and teach the Bible — giving you greater accuracy and confidence.
After his first trip to Israel, Pastor Mark Batterson tweeted: “One revelation from our trip to Israel? I read the Bible wrong! Just knowing the geography adds nuances of meaning. TEXT + CONTEXT = AHA!”
This journey brings your Bible to life in a way that might be difficult to imagine. You’ll go from seeing it in black and white to seeing it (and experiencing it) … in full color.
Growing up Reading the Bible
Bible teachers spend thousands of dollars on theological education and resources to keep current in ministry. Consider the life-long educational value of a trip to Israel and it is worth every cent.
Maybe you grew up with the companionship of Bible stories all the way from Sunday school and cartoon movies to daily devotionals and weekly sermons. The images you saw of those critical characters and powerful places looked a lot like the comic book picture Bible in your mind’s eye.
Or maybe when you imagine Jesus calming the storm, you still envision the Bible movie cartoon character that said aloud the simple message of “Peace be still.” That scene happened in Israel. Visiting Israel is one of the most amazing things you can do to experience Scripture in a whole new way.
Your Senses will Come to Life as a Christian Visiting Israel
Perhaps you’ve studied layers of language from David’s Psalms. You’ve examined and imagined what the “valley of the shadow of death” must have really looked like here on the Earth.
You’ve come to understand the ancient Hebrew language root words like adamah (land) in Hebrew or agape (love) in Greek. Those are intricately part of a Bible-centered visit to Israel.
Smell the subtle fragrance of the Sea of Galilee as you board the boat imagining what it must’ve smelled like in Jesus’ time. But also breathe in the potent wafts of spiced Arabic style coffee (that’s cardamom, by the way!) that bear the invitation to make new friends.
Touch the walls (the Western Wall) that bordered the temple, and today bear the tears of Jews who throughout history cried for redemption, for healing, and for a savior. But also grab the hand of the person you connected with that lives their everyday life here, either by choice or obligation.
2. You’ll be able to PRAY for the Middle East with greater insight and intelligence.
Israel is the epicenter of a conflict as old as the patriarchs. Neither CNN nor Fox could ever fully convey the whole picture. Visiting the Land will enable you to better understand the realities and discern how to pray.
As you meet with Jews and Arabs, hear their stories and see their life contexts, you can put real names and faces to your prayers for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).
3. You’ll hear fresh and exciting testimonies of how God is at work in Israel TODAY.
They are not flashy or loud, but the believers in Israel are leaving a powerful mark on this land. Local ministry leaders can share how the Body has grown ten-fold in the last 20 years. Many will tell you how the Lord revealed Himself to them in a dream or vision.
If you make a point of visiting local believers, you will be blown away by the stories you’ll hear. Find out how you and your church can partner with local ministries — and receive blessings in return (See Genesis 12:3).
Transform lives in Israel through Gospel-centered ministries.
FIRM is your trusted partner for Gospel impact in Israel.
4. Christians visiting Israel will be inspired and have increased faith for their home nation.
The blessing of God is on Israel. It’s very existence is a miracle that you have to see with your own eyes to believe. People who return to Israel every few years marvel at the progress just since their last visit.
Israel is a shining example, not only of how to survive, but how to thrive against all odds. With limited natural resources, a microscopic piece of real estate, and the existential threats of war and terrorism, the only explanation for Israel’s success is God.
Witness it first hand, and bring this confident faith back to your community and your nation.
5. Israel is teeming with history and culture.
Israel is more than archaeological sites and museums. You should try dining in fabulous restaurants or experiencing an evening with the Israel Philharmonic! Your senses will feast upon the beauty of Israel and you will be enriched!
See and stand on the steps leading up to the same temple in Jerusalem (2nd temple) where Jesus taught. But also notice the many cloaked peoples of Jewish, Arab, and Christian backgrounds filling the cobblestone streets. Notice their different traditions, languages, and rituals in search for God.
Jesus’ Life and Journeys are here
We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but also, He grew up in Nazareth, preached in the Galilee, and then, walked the streets of Jerusalem. He worshipped at the Temple, but also, in Jerusalem He was crucified and buried (and rose again, but you already knew that part).
Maybe you’ve seen it on maps, but really, do you know how it fits together – the geography, the distance, the terrain, the journey?
6. A visit to Israel is a magnificent vacation.
You’re going to spend money on a vacation anyway, right? Why not make it here? Here’s the thing. Israel is a place of significance, but it’s also, simply, a beautiful place!
For starters, Israel boasts one of the most ideal climates in the world. In the winter, you could ski the snow-peaked Mount Hermon in the morning… And swim with dolphins along the coral beaches of the Red Sea in the afternoon!
Bask in the glory of Mediterranean Sea and sun, float in the mineral rich Dead Sea, and sample the panoply of cultural cuisine available throughout Israel today. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
7. Make friends for life!
Christians coming to visit Israel will likely experience something they didn’t even know was missing. By signing up for a Jerusalem Encounter tour, you’ll travel the land with likeminded believers and meet locals who also love Jesus.
Israel is not like any other destination. It matters – to God and to the church (or at least it should)! You don’t just sightsee, it truly is an encounter with the land, the story, and the people.
Sometimes it’s hard to get on the same page with others, even if you live in the same town or go to the same church. Touring Israel with other people will create a unique bond – you share experiences, expand your horizons in similar fashion. On a Jerusalem Encounter tour, you will have opportunities to worship God together and pray for each other.
Plus, you will be meeting local believers who follow the same Jesus you do! You’ll hear their stories, see their hearts, pray with them, too. And who knows, maybe you’ll stay connected for years to come!
Want to take a tour through Israel and see what God is still doing in the Holy Land? Take a peek at the Jerusalem Encounter Tour.
Visiting Israel: In the Footsteps of Jesus: Free PDF Download
It is quite exciting to think that while touring Israel you are walking on the same land that Jesus did.
Whether it is the reason why you came to Israel or not, it is worth noting which locations were significant to His life and ministry. God chose this piece of land to send His Son to live on earth. Many archeological findings confirm the locations mentioned in the Bible.
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