Greetings from Israel on the Lord’s Day! The Jews observance (or regrettably, their lack of observance) began at sunset last night and ended at sunset tonight. Although all Jewish businesses are closed on the Sabbath, it seems that too many Jews have left even the religious observance of years past and now use this day simply as a holiday from work. It makes the tour schedule difficult because some of the things we might experience are not open and available to us. We were, however, able to hit some notable destinations today.
I apologize if the picture above is not clear enough. It was taken of a typical community we passed on the way to Zippori where Mary, Jesus’ mother, was raised. They build in the most unlikely places here but their dwellings are beautiful, well constructed and have incredible views. We are in love with the Mediterranean architecture.
Zippori, is where Joachim and Anna, Mary’s parents lived. This is probably where the angel appeared to Mary announcing Jesus’ birth. Zippori was a very impressive city in her day and later played a significant role during the Crusades. Lesagne, leader of the Crusades had his headquarters here. The citadel that he used is still standing. Apart from an outstanding water system that included purification, the highlight of this part of the tour was the magnificent mosaics that are still in amazing shape. Most significant is the fact that at one time they covered almost every sidewalk and building floor. Consider how much labor with ancient tools went into that! Each of these are tiny pieces of colored rock were intricately cut according to a plan and put in place. They still retain their color today, even after years of prior weathering and neglect.
The most significant mosaic is a large room that was probably the governor’s home at one time. It is a large and elaborate mosaic called the Mona Lisa of Galilee because of its similarity to the well-known work of art. Some of the mosaic is missing around the famous picture but much of the rest of it was intact.
The undisputed highlight of the day for me was the northern seaport of Akko. It is in the north region of Israel, right on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a vacation destination that is currently suffering from a downturn in tourism because of the slumping world economy and news of war in Gaza. But that didn’t bother us as we wandered the streets of this picturesque city alone. We had the place almost to ourselves!
The picture above is of a fish monger in Akko.
As we wandered the alleys on our way to the wharf, I was continually impressed with the antiquity of these places. We have nothing in our young country to compare it to. Lots of the roads we walked over today had chariot wheel groves still clearly visible and deeply grooved.
When we got to the port itself, I kept seeing Peter, tanned from the elements he worked in, joining Andrew at the nets of his fishing boat laboring in all kinds of weather to provide for his family.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus’ call must have been very compelling because these were fishermen. That’s what they did! As fishermen, some of their days were productive and some were obviously not. Some storms stretched the limit of their ability as they piloted their own ship.
And, yet, they must have loved the sea, that’s what they knew.
That’s why their responses to a relatively unknown Jesus of Nazareth are all the more remarkable. It suggests that Jesus had the ability to fill their vision and make everything held dear so much less important. In response to his personally compelling invitation, there were only two choices for these working family men, yes or no. The responses each made changed their lives completely. When Jesus walked across the shore into their lives they had a chance to invest themselves in an eternal plan. Bless their hearts, they did not tarry but left at once, demonstrating complete surrender to a higher purpose they desired but could not have fully comprehended.
He calls me . . .and you . . .in much the same way each and every day. Do I love my life the way I perceive it to be or do I love Christ more? Do I demonstrate my surrender through obedience? These questions were spoken to me as I thought about their earlier commitment.
There is a fisherman fishing from shore on the Sea of Galilee in the above picture.
I end today’s post with a sobering truth. Jesus came to earth and lived in this place. Just as certain is that He will one day return to this place in a very different way. The valley of Megiddo is spoken about in Ezekiel 1:10, chapter 10 and Revelation as the site of the coming battle of Armageadon. This view is from Mount Carmel looking through the trees over the massive valley which will one day run with blood deep enough to come up to a horse’s bridle for miles.
Everything else prophesied in the Bible has come true or is yet to be seen. God’s Word can be believed because it is true and backed by the one who defeated death for you and I. If you don’t already know Christ as your personal Savior, the one who came to earth for the expressed purpose of living a perfect life and dying as payment for your sins, He is inviting you to know Him now. Right now, wherever you are. There are only two responses to His invitation to you . . .yes or no. Just as He changed the lives of Peter, Andrew, James and John, He continues to redeem lives today! He is lovingly casting His net toward you right now. I passionately testify to the fact that He is the real deal!
Shalom through Jesus Christ from the land He loves,