Let us go up

Isaiah 2:3, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

Hello from Jerusalem,

I’ve come to think that Jesus must have been very fit.

Did you know that it was a six to seven day WALK from Galilee to Jerusalem?  And just about anywhere else in Israel, for that matter.  We’ve travelled by bus, but each day we return to our rooms with 6 or 7 miles on foot to our credit.  That’s not counting the climbing and whatnot, and Jesus did it every day of his life.  WOW

This evening, after another 12-hour day, with half of us dozing in exhaustion, our bus pulled into a lookout on a hill outside of Jerusalem, and as the sun went down, they played that song I haven’t heard since George Beverly Shey days, “ The Holy City”.

Maybe you remember some of the words,

Last night I lay a sleeping

There came a dream so fair

I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there
I heard the children singing
And ever as they sang
Me thought the voice of Angels
From Heaven in answer rang
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Lift up you gates and sing
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to your King!”

What a taste of heaven awaits us! As we all sang along, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I think I’m going to have to take some time to sort out all the feelings we’ve had this week, but suffice it to say, you’ll be hearing more about this trip.  Furthermore, I totally recommend it; do it now if you have any strength left in your earthly bodies!

I’ve got to sleep now.  Between hiking in Masada, swimming in the Dead Sea and just standing agape at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; between all those and about ten other “Oh by the way” stops, we’re shattered.  In 10 hours we’ll pack another three days’ into one, then start packing for Cyprus, a place we’ve never been but have always been curious about since we were once asked to be interim pastor at a church there.

Let me leave you with something I heard today at Masada. If you’re not familiar with the story, please look it up; it’s such a heart-rending account of a small band of Jewish rebels and their families, making a last stand at one of Herod’s fortresses on the shore of the Dead Sea. For nearly three years, the Romans surrounded, laid siege to and finally built an incredible ramp up to the walls that would allow them to break in and make short work of the rebels.

The night before they breeched the wall, however, the defenders made a pact to kill their families, then kill themselves rather than let the Romans have the opportunity.

Today, Israeli soldiers come here on a regular basis to make what they call a “Masada Oath”. They vow that they will never give up the cause, fighting to the death before allowing their enemy any cause for victory.

Today God’s people face an enemy who would love nothing more than for us to roll over and accept defeat. The real tragedy is that for God’s people, victory is already assured… and yet we are so easily deceived, so willing to concede defeat.

Lord, make us strong and open our eyes to those who are “with us” (2 Kings 6:16).

Until next time,


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