Today is packing day, getting ready for my seventh trip to Israel and the fifth one I have led as a tour host.
I speak in churches, usually 40-50 a year, although numbers are down in this economy. Christians all over, even in small towns you’ve never heard of, love the land of Israel and Jewish people. It is a natural result of reading the Bible that people come to this love. When traditional theologies do not get in the way, ahavat Yisrael (love for Israel) is a simple message derived from faithful reading of Israel’s Torah, prophets, psalms, wisdom sages, and the Israelite apostles who spread the Yeshua-movement to the world.
Consequently, I always find people who think it is a bargain to spend thousands of dollars traveling to Israel, to see the places and experience the land. In this recession, 2008 was a hard year to find travelers, but even so we have twenty one going.
As I iron shirts, look for the charger to my camera, and finish other packing details, I think about the places we will go.
This past week, the Torah portion was Va’Yetzei (Genesis 28:10 – 32:3). Jacob is leaving the land. He is met by angels on his way out (the ladder dream) and on his way back in.
There is a rabbinic legend that when Jacob was passing by Mt. Moriah on his way out of the land, he regretted not taking the time to stop and pray there. He decided to turn back on pray on Moriah. At that moment, God contracted the land under his feet so he was instantly standing on Moriah.
Inspired by this story, I want to pray in every place we go, based on the great things that happened there.
At Joppa I will pray based on the story of Jonah and also the cedars for the temple being brought to port here. At Caesarea my prayer will remember Cornelius and the trial of Paul. At Mt. Carmel I will invoke the contest of Elijah and God’s power over all idols. At Megiddo I will think of military battles past, but also future, as the nations will come foolishly to attack Jerusalem. At the lake of Galilee I will remember Yeshua’s teachings and healings as I pray. At the Jordan I will think of Jacob crossing, Joshua and Israel crossing, Elijah, John the Baptizer, and Yeshua. In the city of David I will pray with David and Solomon in mind.
And Jerusalem will fill me with things to pray about. On the Mount of Olives I will look up into the clouds where Messiah will return from as I pray. At the Wall I will pray the Amidah and concentrate on the prayer for the Temple to be rebuilt. On the Temple Mount itself, I will be secretly praying (the Waqf is always watching and does not allow any prayer but Muslim prayer).
There will be many more holy places and historic events to remember. And most of all to pray.