The Passion Week Shows What Jesus is Looking for in Your Life

Was Monday a bad day for Jesus, or did His words suggest application for us?

Sometimes what you expect is not what you get. You come to a situation that promises one thing, but you find another altogether. Monday of Passion Week proved that way for Jesus.

Fig tree in Israel

(Photo: Fig tree in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After His Triumphal Entry on the colt, Jesus entered the Temple area in Jerusalem and found the Court of the Gentiles—the area for Gentiles to worship God—filled with markets and moneychangers.

The next day, Monday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem along the same road He had traveled before. He saw a fig tree in leaf, which typically indicated that it would have unripe figs to eat. But the tree offered only leaves.

No fruit for breakfast. So Jesus cursed the tree. His disciples heard Him.

We should hear Him too.

Jesus’ words indicate what He is looking for in our lives.

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The Inestimable Value of Solitude with God

Saint George's Monastery in the Judean Wilderness reminds us to get away with God.

In our lives busy with people, it’s tough to appreciate the value of solitude with God. But one look at Saint George’s Monastery in the Wilderness of Judea gives us reason to pause and ponder the necessity of solitude with God.

Saint George's Monastery—The Value of Solitude with God

(Photo: Saint George’s Monastery. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As I scanned the monastery’s blue domes and white arches that dot the colorless canvas of the wilderness, I marveled at the time and ingenuity it would have taken to build and rebuild these structures.  

I found myself wondering, Why would ANYONE want to live way out there? A friend of mine wondered if the monks in the monastery thought the same thing about us.

Sometimes in our hurry, it does us good to contemplate the value of solitude.

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The Way to Make the Most Excellent Choices

Joshua’s secret to success is one we can apply daily.

Few choices last a lifetime. Most require daily, deliberate reminders. Joshua knew this well. Immediately after he and the young nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, they made a beeline to a particular valley between two mountains.

The Way to Make the Most Excellent Choices

(Photo: Where Joshua stood: Mount Gerizim, Shechem, and Mount Ebal. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God had commanded half the people to stand before one mountain and the other half to position itself before the other. Each group was to shout either the blessings or the curses that Israel would experience as a result of their response to God’s Law (Deuteronomy 11:29).

As they shouted, their voices echoed in the city of Shechem, which lay in the valley between these hills. Before God’s people would conquer and settle the land, they affirmed their obedience to God in the very place where God had promised the land to Abraham (Genesis 12:7).

The significance of the place served to strengthen their commitment to God.

If we’ll listen, it can strengthen ours as well.

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Beth Shean—When God’s Blessings Seem Too Hard to Hold

What to do when they seem to slip from your grip.

Sometimes the blessings God gives you seem hard to hold. In some cases, the difficulty urges us to abandon the blessings. Beth Shean gives us a great example.

Beth Shean excavations

(Photo: Beth Shean excavations. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord provided Beth Shean for the Tribe of Manasseh. But the excellent location proved to be a double-edged sword. Because the spot was so good, every nation wanted control of Beth Shean. And whoever held it always seemed to contend with those who would wrench it from their grasp.

Perhaps its strategic location gave Beth Shean its name, “House of Security.”

But security only works when you trust in God.

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The Temple Mount in Jerusalem—An Ordinary Hill Made Holy

There's only one thing we can give our God who has everything.

Abraham saw the acreage. David bought the lot. Solomon built the house. Nebuchadnezzar tore it town. Zerubbabel rebuilt it. Herod the Great expanded it. Titus flattened it.

Before these temples stood on Mount Moriah, it was nothing but a hill used for threshing wheat. Hardly worth noticing.

The Temple Mount—An Ordinary Hill Made Holy

(Photo: the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But today, the Temple Mount remains the most precious piece of real estate in the world. And the golden shrine that graces its crest has become the icon for the Holy City of Jerusalem itself.

How did this ordinary hill become holy? Not through battles or land bartering or by popular vote.

God chose it. It’s the same with us.

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Hebron—the Cave of Machpelah Stands as a Testimony of Faith

Good news: we lose nothing of God's promises in death.

It’s actually good news: death can teach us a lot about life. Specifically, we lose nothing of God’s promises when death occurs. The Cave of Machpelah in Hebron shows us why.

Machpelah in Hebron

(Photo: The building that covers the “Cave of the Patriarchs” at Machpelah in Hebron. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Towering like a fortress over the shoddy buildings that surround it, the ancient structure in Hebron covers a site sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

In elevation, Hebron stands taller than even Jerusalem. And other than the Temple Mount itself, no other place remains as revered to peoples whose hopes and faiths could not be more diverse.

Few other places offer such a powerful lesson in faith for those of us still drawing a breath.

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How to Strengthen Your Vulnerable Buffer Zone

The foothills of Israel's Shephelah offer lessons on keeping spiritually alert.

Do you have a buffer zone between you and what can harm you? I’m talking about putting a safeguard between you and evil influences that can cause compromise in your walk with Jesus Christ. We see an illustration of this buffer zone throughout Old Testament history in the foothills of Israel’s Shephelah.

The Shephelah

(Photo: The Shephelah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the “Shephelah.” The hills of the Shephelah served as a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier.

You have a Shephelah in your life as well. Here’s how you can guard it.

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Tel Megiddo and What Megiddo Tells Us

Israel's most strategic site offers you a strategic lesson.

If the world wants something so badly, why not let them have it? The problem comes when what they want is what God has given you and commanded you to guard. It becomes a tug of war with your heart as the prize.

The strategic site of Tel Megiddo

(Photo: The strategic site of Tel Megiddo. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

If history ever compared the land of Israel to the game of “Monopoly,” the site of Tel Megiddo would be Boardwalk. It was the most coveted spot on the playing board. Location, location, location . . . 

Tel Megiddo’s tremendous value came from its strategic location as the sentinel of the most important pass through the Mt. Carmel range.

Whoever held Tel Megiddo in the ancient world controlled the traffic and trade along the International Highway to and from Egypt. That meant both military and financial security.

Taking Megiddo is like capturing a thousand cities. —Pharaoh Thutmose III

Its value simply can’t be exaggerated. It’s lesson for us has a daily application.

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The Golan Heights—Are You Sure Your Contentment is in the Right Place?

A lesson from the Golan Heights' bastions, burials, battles, and borders.

Contentment isn’t always a good thing. The Golan Heights illustrate why. A long plateau rises east of the Sea of Galilee, high above the surrounding basins. As the highland stretches north, basalt cones penetrate the landscape, betraying extinct volcanoes below the surface.

The Golan Heights—Bastions, Burials, Battles, and Borders

(Photo: Nimrod’s Fortress in the Golan Heights. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For thousands of years, the Golan Heights in Israel served history in countless ways—from pasturelands to burial grounds, from battlegrounds to borders. It’s no wonder this region has remained the envy of its environs—even to today.

The volcanic soils offer lush pastures for grazing—and spectacular panoramas for the eyes.

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The Promised Land and God’s Amazing Provision for Your Life

If God will provide, why do our means seem so meager?

The tension is nothing new for us who believe in God. It’s just that most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.

In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why our means seem so meager.

If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

(Photo: Wheat field near Bet Guvrin, Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.

  • This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
  • Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
  • However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).

All this was to show that the Promised Land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would.

For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).

Here’s why the same is true for us.

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