Walking Through the Bible
It’s hard to believe it, but the day has finally arrived! This morning all 97 of us gathered in bright and sunny Tel Aviv, filled two tour buses, and began exploring the Holy Land of Israel.
While our friends and family back in the States were soundly slumbering in the late hours of the night, our first journey of the morning took us to the ancient city of Joppa, some 4,000 years old. This port town on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, adjacent to the modern city of Tel Aviv, was once used during Solomon’s reign to float cedars of Lebanon to Jerusalem to be used in building the Temple. A quick jaunt through city streets on this Shabbat (Sabbath Day) greeted us with many locals having a day of leisure.
We stopped by Simon the Tanner’s house and learned much from our brilliant tour guide, Tito, about the strategic importance of Joppa along the ancient Sea Highway. Of course, this town was very important to one well-known traveler, Jonah, who infamously departed from here to avoid his call to Nineveh, and, as a result, had a whale of a time. In the New Testament, we know that Peter came here from Lida (now Tel Aviv) and most notably prayed for the resurrection of Dorcas and had a miraculous vision of the blanket with many foods.
With a few of us envisioning food at that time ourselves, we stopped at a busy spot for shawarma, falafel, and cool drinks. With many days of travel ahead of us, this was a great opportunity to begin to get to know each other a bit.
Soon after, we headed for the Kibbutz Ammunition Factory near Rehovot, where young Israelis dedicated weeks, months, or years of their lives to secretly supplying Israeli soldiers with ammunition just after World War II, which was illegal and punishable by death under the rule of the British Mandate. The tour of the once secret underground facility, cleverly hidden under a laundry and bakery, took us about eight decades back in history as we walked about eight meters below the surface next to the original machinery that allowed Israel to defend herself.
Of course, the Holy Land of Israel has been contested not only in modern times but throughout the centuries. Perhaps most fittingly, we ended our first day at the Valley of Elah. Here a young man chosen by the Lord would step forward with a sling, some stones, and a shepherd’s heart filled with enough faith to defeat Goliath and the whole Philistine army.
FOI Executive Director Jim Showers led us through the reading of 1 Samuel 16–17 and reminded us that David did not simply see things the way that man sees them but how God sees them. He is a great example of what can happen when we trust in the Lord during a very difficult time. We collected more than a few stones from the valley today. I’m pretty sure we did not find one of David’s five stones, but you never know…
Finally, as Tito and Jim reminded us before heading to the Hotel Dan Panorama, we have begun today to stand in and experience significant places from biblical history and to “see the Bible with our legs.” In Israel, history and the Bible come to life in a new way. May the Lord bless this rare opportunity of ours with a transformative experience, leading us to a new way of reading Scripture and deepening our walk with Him.
Blog author: David Lightfoot
Photos: Roxanne Lightfoot
Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
I am looking forward to hearing about each day of your tour.