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Members of the Blowing Rock Men’s Connection Bible Study group sail across the Sea of Galilee.
From left: Doug Starkey, Coleman Ratterree, Kim Reed, Dan Meyer and Dick Boggs.

Originally published: 2013-06-03 13:22:02
Last modified: 2013-06-03 13:22:02

Holy land and its historical, personal impact

by Dan Meyer

Think back to the pictures and videos you took of your first child and how many photo albums you filled. How about for the second or the third?  Probably fewer pictures taken each time, but more of life experienced and deeply enjoyed.

So it is with the second visit to Israel -- this time not seen through the camera's viewfinder, trying to capture every image that comes into view, knowing that each one has made a significant impact on you and trying to put all the experiences into place like puzzle pieces. But rather, seeing the bigger picture, seeing peripheral sights and taking in more of the atmosphere, culture, history, idiosyncrasies and nuances of what envelopes you -- seeing the gestalt, the wholeness of it all -- where the sum is much greater than its parts.

This year, my wife, Pam, and I hosted a group of 23 sojourners -- traveling through Israel on a pilgrimage, following in the steps of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Paul.  Think of it -- those individuals most impactful on the history of mankind all in one place  -- a place the size of the state of New Jersey. Jerusalem has been the hub of politics, culture and religion for thousands of years.

Our days were filled with wonderful sites, incredible commentary by our guide and daily spiritual application from Bible study along the way. We were up by 6:30 a.m., breakfast at 7 and on the bus by 8 -- visiting sites until 5 p.m. every day for 10 days  -- a packed agenda of biblically significant places.

A pilgrim and a tourist may follow the same itinerary, but the pilgrim is on a sacred journey in which God is encountered through places, people and situations.

Of great significance was realizing how the prophecies of old were fulfilled time and time again -- the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New Testament -- confirming that the Bible is one book; the New Testament simply a fulfillment of the Old Testament.  

Israel remains the epicenter of history, the caldron of today and the focal point of the future. 

It was a most enlightening experience, to say the least -- viewing places mentioned in the Bible, envisioning stories from the Bible in the very spot where they took place -- the crossing of the Jordan River, Hezekiah's wall, the shepherd's fields where David herded his flock and the angels announced the birth of Christ, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb, and so much more. It was the coming together of our creative imaginations and the real thing.

It is difficult to put into words the transformation that takes place when your preconceived notions are challenged by the authentic. It is truly mind-altering.

If you have an opportunity to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, take it. You will never read the Bible in the same manner. You will always remember the impact of sites you visit. You may even return as a new person having been confronted by the realities of Christ's life and message of forgiveness and the hope of eternity. Shalom.