Sometimes the cities we read about in the Bible feel like ancient relics that don’t exist anymore. Sometimes they seem made up altogether. Guess what? They’re real! You can see those places today!
If you’re a believer in Jesus, visiting Israel isn’t just a great bucket-list item. It’s a life-changing experience. Here are seven great reasons why every Christian should visit Israel.
1. To Connect With the Roots of Your Faith
This is the most important reason of all. We love God’s Word, and the story of Israel and God’s relationship with the Israelites makes up a gigantic part of Scripture. That means it’s not only a treat to visit the Holy Land; it’s also a great way to understand God better and rejuvenate your relationship with Him. To walk where Jesus walked and to stand in the land so central to all of Scripture is a special opportunity to strengthen your faith by physically seeing places you’ve only read about in the Bible.
2. To See Where Jesus Was Born
Bethlehem is the tiny town on everyone’s minds at Christmastime. The prophet Micah described it as “little among the thousands of Judah,” yet it’s this place that God chose as the humble birthplace of His only Son. Rather than establishing Jesus with a royal birth, God zoomed in on Bethlehem, the humble city of David, as the origin of the greatest human life ever lived. Come see what it looks like today!
3. To See Where Jesus Died and Rose Again
To find yourself in the very location where Jesus bore the weight of our sins on the cross is a powerful, awe-inspiring opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Just as important as the town where Jesus’ life started is the city where His life temporarily ended—Jerusalem. The Gospel accounts list Golgotha, called Calvary, as the site of Jesus’ death and burial. To find yourself in the very location where Jesus bore the weight of our sins on the cross is a powerful, awe-inspiring opportunity you don’t want to miss. It was also at Golgotha in a new tomb in the garden where Jesus was laid to rest, but only for three short days before His glorious resurrection.
4. To Visit the Jordan River
Here’s a must-see location for any Christian. The Jordan River is not only a historic site; it’s also where some of the most miraculous moments in the Bible happened. This river split to form a path of dry ground twice—first to bring the Israelites a step closer to the Promised Land in Joshua 3, then again when it was crossed by the prophets Elijah and Elisha moments before Elijah was taken to heaven. It’s also the site where Elisha healed Naaman’s leprosy and caused an axe to float. This river is one of the places Jesus is mentioned to have visited many times, most notably when baptized in the river by John the Baptist. It should definitely be at the top of your list when visiting Israel.
5. To Float in the Dead Sea
Here’s a favorite for many tourists in Israel. Floating in the Dead Sea is such a one-of-a-kind experience. Because of its unusually high salt concentration, the water is naturally buoyant and allows anyone to easily float at the surface. Many biblical events take place near this sea, as it served as the eastern boundary of Israel. It’s known as the Salt Sea, the Sea of Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. The Dead Sea plays prominently in the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah’s downfall and in the times that David ran from King Saul. It’s a constant part of biblical history and Israel’s story as a nation since God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. Make sure you get a chance to float in it yourself!
6. To Understand How People in the Promised Land Live Today
His faithfulness to every generation of Abraham’s descendants is well proven by the sight of the Jewish people inhabiting the Promised Land.
With the Bible so full of details about Israel’s winding road in and out of the Promised Land, it’s fulfilling to see the Jewish people firmly entrenched in the land God gave them today. Obviously much has changed in the past 2,000+ years since Jewish people last had autonomy in Israel. That’s why it’s so cool to see modern-day Israel and to compare it to our biblical knowledge of the nation thousands of years ago.
See the proof of God’s promise to Abraham in person! Visiting Israel is a great opportunity to recognize God’s work not just in biblical times but in the present. His faithfulness to every generation of Abraham’s descendants is well proven by the sight of the Jewish people inhabiting the Promised Land.
7. To Get a First Taste of Our Future Home – New Jerusalem
If you never get to visit Israel but believe in Jesus for salvation, you have an incredible consolation prize: residence in New Jerusalem! The final two chapters of Scripture speak about this perfect city in detail. But human words can barely begin to scratch the surface of grasping the glory of this city. It’s a place where sinless angels and redeemed humans with heavenly bodies live together; where a river of the water of life, the tree of life, and walls adorned with jewels welcome us; where there’s no hunger or thirst, no death or mourning, no crying or pain, and no night or darkness. Instead the glory of the Lord promises our residence will be perfect.
To go to Jerusalem today would give you a great reference point for the future. The holy city might be beautiful and efficient today, but it doesn’t come close to measuring up to the glorified New Jerusalem. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a connection to and experience in modern Jerusalem to compare to New Jerusalem?
You’ve got to check it out! You can see what Israel is like today while learning what it looked like thousands of years ago as part of The Friends of Israel’s Up to Jerusalem tour. You’ll get a chance to visit these locations—Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Gordon’s Calvary (the two disputed locations of Jesus’ crucifixion) in Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea—and many more biblical sites in this one-of-a-kind experience in the Holy Land.
Of course, traveling to Israel is a big expense. At the moment, the pandemic has shut down travel to Israel, so trips to the Holy Land will have to wait for now. But if you ever have the opportunity to go when travel resumes, you won’t regret investing in that trip. It might be one of the greatest memories of your life and a time of spiritual refreshment and intimacy with your Savior.