What a joy to journey to Israel! I am not speaking of the “back slapping happiness” of a good ball game; nor do I speak of the smile of lavish luxury such as cruising the Carribean; I am speaking of an intensification of that Spiritual connection that believers have with Jesus Christ. Having just returned from Israel, I cannot help but speak of the spiritual, and emotional electricity that does not ignite shouts of victory; but overwhelms with a sense of reality that forces one to “bow on my knees and cry holy.” If you never want to “feel” what Isaiah felt when he said, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips” then don’t put your hands on the stones that caught the blood drops of Jesus. Being present in the place of the atoning process has a way of stunning the worldliness out of you, and burning an overwhelming conviction right in to you. When the reality of the history in front of the eyes settles in; there is “spiritual trauma” that stupefies the heart and humiliates the mind; which then makes the best use of “words” completely inadequate.
Recently there has been some criticism of Holy Land tours being led by pastors. I do not know if the criticism is against a “pastor leading a tour” someone spending the money to “take the tour,” or the sometimes financial benefit that a pastor receives from leading the tour. I believe that the primary criticism is aimed at pastors making money from leading tour groups through Israel. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the criticism is against anyone making money from leading tour groups through Israel, it is merely against a pastor making money from the endeavor.
Let me say this. I don’t know who made what because it does not really matter. Whoever makes the money, pastor, tour company, tour guide, or Israelie Guide, it is irrelevant to the value of the tour. It does cost to go to Israel. It costs to keep you safe; to feed you, to organize, and keep a smooth itinerary, and to remove as much travelling distraction as possible. There are a variety of factors that determine that cost. However, when anyone cannot see beyond the distribution of the costs, they will never see, or know the value of such an opportunity to open your eyes to the geography of scripture, and the historical presence of eternal doctrine.
I cannot say enough about pastor Ralph Sexton, and Templeton Tours. Jeff Templeton, the owner of Templeton Tours, is a class A kind of man. He is sold out saint, and the kind of businessman that could be used as an example to teach all young men and women entering the business world. His uncle and founder of Templeton Tours is on the board of InTouch ministries of Dr. Charles Stanley. Jeff accompanied us on our tour and we were truly blessed to spend time with him. He has a clear vision, grounded heart, pure motives, and his tour care is the Gold Standard of Christian tour companies.
Dr. Ralph Sexton, Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina did an award winning job of letting the Lord use the world of the Word to move in our hearts. Dr. Sexton’s family have been friends with the people of Israel and Palestine since the early 1950’s. His family and church have been heavily involved in Children’s Hospitals, Benevolent work, and Mission work in the country of our King. Because of his connections, we were able to meet the family who owned the Dead Sea scrolls before they were sold to the Museum world. The Kando family who owned the Dead Sea Scrolls sold all of the jars of scrolls to the powers that be, except for one, which they held onto for personal keep sake. What a blessing to meet them, and view their treasure. Dr. Sexton is well-connected and well-favored by the Israelies and Palestinians. The Lord truly has graceful ambassador to two nations in desperate need of grace and peace.
I am enamoured with the Holy Land. The fields of Boaz, En Gedi, Banias, Caesarea by the Sea, Caiaphas House, The Temple Institute, and the Jewish people themselves, all just seem to keep my heart captivated; not to mention the numerous other places to experience. Syria, Lebannon, and Jordan were also areas that the Lord has sealed to my mind as being places in need of the Lord Jesus. The Jews are waiting for Messiah to come the first time, and my heart just breaks for them. Their passion is beyond our measure; their zeal for God is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met; but tragically as Paul so pointedly declared, none of it is according to knowledge.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and the demise of replacement theology. The Lord has spoken once and for all concerning the apple of His eye; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” I used to worry about America turning it’s back on Israel; now I worry about Israel turning it’s back on America. We need them more than they need us, and I pray fervently that the powers that be will recognize that. Coming to the place where we love God’s chosen nation, in God’s delineated land would be an unimaginable change worth making.