As part of my sabbatical, I've had the chance to spend 10 days in Israel and Palestine. I'd highly recommend it.
If you're a Christian, I'd recommend visiting the land where the great events took place. The Christian faith is not an abstract philosophy. The Living God revealed himself through his deeds with his chosen people, the descendents of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, which he interpreted to us by ensuring that those who recorded this history did so as God wanted us to understand it. Supremely, he revealed himself in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the "seed" (singular) of Abraham. The archaeology of lots of these ancient places has been wonderful preserved, carefully uncovered, and laid out for visitors to see and enjoy. It is profoundly moving to stand in places where Jesus himself stood, and to imagine those very events occuring.
Even if you're not a Christian, go and have a look. At the very least, you'll have a good holiday, so you won't lose out. But I invite you to go and consider the fact that the Christian faith you are still investigating is something that took place in real space and time.
Oak Hall Expeditions
I'd highly recommend going with Oak Hall, as I did. At the very least, I'd suggest going with an organised tour. There's so much to see. Whilst there are good guidebooks available, you'd be pushed to read enough to plan a trip to make the best of everything. With Oak Hall in particular, the trip will be led by a guide who knows the area well and can explain everything to you. It's wonderful to hear the related passages of Scripture read in the places where the events occurred. Oak Hall is especially good for those travelling on their own; room sharing will be arranged for you, and friendships quickly form. On our trip, we had a huge spread of ages, from early 20s to late 70s, and by the end we felt like one big family.
Jottings. Memories. Photographs
I have a lot of memories I wish to remember, and lots of photographs (over 600!) that I took for a particular reason and I don't want to forget what that was. I didn't have time to write a diary out there, so over the next few days I'll use this blog to jot some stuff here for my own recall, hoping it may inspire and inform a few others if I put it somewhere public. If you read anything here that is incorrect, please let me know - I won't have remembered everything perfectly.
These are jottings, not a complete guide to anything. I don't even promise to use complete sentences. All the photographs are copyright to me and not to be used without permission.
Here is a contents list to help people find the bits they're looking for.
- Evening 1: Exploring Jerusalem
- Day 2: Mount of Olives, Dominus Flevit, Kidron, Gethsemane
- Day 2: Bethesda, Gabbatha, Holy Sepulchre, Garden Tomb
- Day 3: Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, Dead Sea
- Day 4: Temple Mount, City of David, Davidson Centre Archaeological Park, Burnt House
- Day 5: Israel Museum, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem Model
- Day 5: Bethlehem, Herodion
- Day 6: Jericho
- Day 7: Lake Galilee, Korazin, Capernaum
- Day 7: Sermon on the Mount, Bethsaida, Tabgha, Gergesa
- Day 8: Nazareth
- Day 9: Hazor, Dan
- Day 10, Megiddo
- Food and Drink
- Plant Life
- Travel Tips