“This is the land of Jesus, the Anointed One who preached the Gospel to the poor, gave sight to the blind, set free the oppressed.”
Israel, the land of the patriarchs and prophets, the land of the apostles, and the land of Jesus according to the Bible accounts, is located in the Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Lebanon. This small territory lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
Here, at the junction of these continents, historically worthy Israel arises majestically and full of mystery.
In my recent journey to Israel, as I looked out over its capital, the old city of Jerusalem, the most
predominant landmark was indeed the Dome of the Rock, as many have pointed out. It rests on the very place where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, on Mount Moriah. This piece of land was later bought by King David in order to build the Temple, actually built by his son Solomon. That was the first glorious temple!
This first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians but after 70 years of the captivity of the Jews, they returned and rebuilt it. King Herod refurbished the temple, so 1,000 Levites were trained as builders,
because no laity could enter certain parts of the building.
Today, the Temple Mount is undoubtedly the symbol of “religious freedom” in Israel because it has been used by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In fact, 75% of the Israeli population is Jewish. Within this group, one may find secular Jews, modern
Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, and Reform or Messianic Judaism.
On the other hand, 17.5% are Muslims, 2% are Christians, 1.6% Druze, and 3.9% are not specified (CIA, 2013). This is quite evident as one walks along the streets of Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth as well as many other towns and interacts with people whose cultural and religious background is so diverse.
But Israel´s diversity is not only present in the religious and cultural aspects of its population but also in its geography. Although small in size, Israel is surrounded by different topographical features ranging from forested highlands to desert landscapes and from the coastal plain to the semitropical Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.
Yes, this is the splendid Promised Land, the land of milk and honey that God promised to Abraham and his descendants! The land where Moses and Joshua led the Israelites on the exodus out of Egypt!
Moreover, this land embraces unique scenarios such as Masada, situated above the Dead Sea and one of the fortresses built by Herod the Great. This was a refuge for Jews who escaped from the Roman legions after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Qumran, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, is also
well-known for the most stunning biblical archaeological find in 1947, the discovery of the scrolls and manuscripts which are such a magnificent legacy for Christianity.
And of course, Israel is also well-known for the places where Jesus, the Messiah was born, grew up, taught and proclaimed the “Kingdom of God.” The beauty and peacefulness of the Sea of Galilee and its surroundings truly bring to mind the sweetness and loveliness of the powerful and everlasting teachings of Jesus such as the “Sermon of the Mount.” This is the land of Jesus, the Anointed One who preached the
Gospel to the poor, gave sight to the blind, set free the oppressed. Jesus is the Son of God who was sent to die on the cross in order to give us eternal life.
As one reads the prophecy of Isaiah 53, he / she cannot help but recognize that this word was fulfilled in the life of our Lord Jesus, as it is recorded in the Gospel account (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19).
“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
Isn’t this amazing? This land is indeed the Holy Land, but sadly, it is also a divided land that has been in permanent conflict and spiritual blindness, because its people have not acknowledged the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
Israel and very especially its capital Jerusalem have been synonymous with conflict, wars and battles throughout history, even from Biblical times.
A controversial land in the sight of the world, but surely the chosen land in the sight of God.
Indeed, God has had His eyes on Israel, and His prophets have predicted its restoration. Jeremiah declared that God will restore the Israelites by bringing them together from all the nations. Ezekiel said that Israel would come to know the Lord. And Isaiah declared that Israel would still be a light to the nations and that Jew and Gentile would dwell together in peace through the Messiah.
Yes, God has His eyes on Israel, and so must we. Let us commit ourselves to pray for the restoration and salvation of Israel. Let us make as our own promise what David said:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper!”
(Psalm 122:6 NLT)
To conclude, this year 2015, this country is celebrating its 67th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. So, let me invite you to watch a very interesting film that I found about this land, produced by National Geographic.
This is how Israel is seen by the world. Enjoy the film and come to your own conclusions!
Shalom! Peace be with you!