With so much happening in the Middle East today, and with Europe on the alert, is it really a good time to take a Bible land tour to Israel?
Many Bible-believing Christians are very keen to make the visit, but they have two major concerns:
1. Is it affordable?
2. Is it safe?
First, I cannot stress enough that your decision to ‘go or not to go’ should not be based on the nightly news. Under no circumstance should a Christian believer make decisions based on fear! Now or ever.
The Bible is full of exhortations to ‘fear not.’ Nowhere does it imply we should fear anything, any time. The only fear we should have is the ‘fear of the LORD.’ When you exercise Godly fear, it cancels out all other fears!
Your decision to visit the holy land should be based on two things:
1. Prayer and the leading of the LORD; and
2. Sufficient, accurate information.
Why visit the Holy Land?
There are two consistent and compelling reasons:
3. To walk where Jesus (and Bible heroes) walked. This is called ‘devotion.’
4. To learn more about the Bible. This is called ‘education.’
There are so many wonderful Biblical places to visit that would fulfil both criteria, including: the Dead Sea, Jericho, Jordan Valley, Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Mount Carmel, Caesarea, Jaffa, Bethlehem, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, and the Old City of Jerusalem, plus more. In all these sites you can see first-hand where ‘Jesus walked’ and Biblical events took place.
You will learn, grow, enjoy, and even have fun. You can float on the Dead Sea, get baptised in the Jordan River, partake in the Temple Mount sifting project, fellowship with local believers (the ‘living stones’) or do what everyone does - go shopping. Yes, a spiritual pilgrimage can be fun, too.
What is the difference between a tourist and pilgrim?
Tourists visit a place for rest and recreation. Pilgrims can have these same goals but with one dramatic difference. A pilgrim has faith in his or her heart and travels to a place ‘in faith’ in order to connect with a place associated with ‘faith.’
In other words, a pilgrim is a person of faith and the journey in faith is called a pilgrimage.
Is it affordable?
Yes, it is very affordable. For less than the price of a cruise (where much of what you see is ocean water), you can travel, sleep, enjoy abundant fresh food, and live like a monarch.
One the of key questions: is it safe to go?
With screaming headlines about ‘Arab Spring,’ ‘Syrian War,’ ‘Rise of ISIS,’ and increased terrorism, it is a legitimate question. Here is the answer.
First, it is safe enough. Apart from being in God’s will, is there any place on earth that is absolutely safe?
Second, the Middle East is big enough. A bomb going off in Baghdad does not mean there is trouble in Jerusalem. While there are problems in some parts of the region, there is stability in other parts. Israel is one of those places of stability.
Third, one local Christian said this is the safest country in the world, because it is God’s land. So true. Deuteronomy 11:11-12 (NKJV) says:
But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
Since God’s eyes are always on this land, you can be sure that His eyes will be on you, too.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport has been impressively renovated in the past few years. According to Conde Nast Traveler, its readers rated Ben Gurion the world’s Number Four airport, after Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong airports. It is especially ‘state-of-the-art’ when it comes to security issues. There are 11 checkpoints and security posts from the time you drive through the airport gate until you board the airplane. No wonder there has not been an attack at or a hijacking from Ben Gurion in forty years!
Furthermore, both local Jews and Arabs have a vested interest in the security of their pilgrim guests since both work in the hospitality industry (you will find many Arab workers, even in the Israeli hotels). The locals have their ‘ear to the ground’ when it comes to security; they are the best sources of information when it comes to a place being secure. Prayer and following their advice affords you the best protection possible.
This is a hospitable part of the world with low rates of crime. It is safer here than in many major western cities.
Journey in Faith: Remember the pilgrim’s secret weapon: Faith. Unlike the nervous tourist, the pilgrim believes that God is with them and protecting them every step of the way (Psalm 91:1-2). Many comment that they feel safer in Israel than in many other places. This is because they put their trust in the LORD. Those who do are never put to shame.
After all, Christian believer, if you cannot trust God now for your fears, faults, failings, finances, friends, family, and future … then when do you plan to start?
Now is the time!
Is it really a good idea to visit the holy land? If you are led by God and full of faith, then ‘go for it.’ With that kind of attitude, you will be well equipped to enjoy a fearless journey to the Land of the Bible. The results can be life-changing.
NOTE: Teach All Nations is offering two Bible lands tours in November 2016:
The Book of Revelation (Greece and Turkey)
Bible Adventure Tour (Jordan and Israel)