Most of us give Christmas gifts that are quickly forgotten. After the iPhone gets cracked, or the DVD gets watched, or the sweater gets snagged, they all end up at the landfill. This year, why not give a gift (or ask for one) that will last a lifetime?
(Photo: by Carsten Tolkmit. Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Bible Lands study tools make great gifts because they take your personal Bible study to the next level. What’s more, they don’t wear out.
Here are my top 5 recommendations this year for gifts you’ll enjoy giving (and receiving).
We live in an age where avoiding obstacles, traveling great distances, and finding something to drink no longer prove a challenge.
With a transportation system that requires little more than a basic understanding of road signs and airline gates, our world gives little attention to the importance of geography.
But think about the times you visit a place you’ve never been before. It’s all strange.
(Photo: Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee)
The unfamiliar landmarks, the sudden turns, and the unexpected potholes are impediments to your progress. It’s the same with Bible study.
Those of us who seek to understand the meaning of the Bible strongly believe in interpreting a passage in its context. But context is more than words. When one reads the Bible, it becomes clear how geography is the stage on which the redemptive narrative takes place.
The land God chose was not arbitrary, for He designed even the land itself to develop the spiritual lives of His people. The land was never intended to be just a place to live.
The same is true where you live.
God told the Hebrews when to observe the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. At first, to be honest, the command seems random.
The feasts were to occur at the appointed time of Abib, or Aviv (Exodus 23:15)—a Hebrew word that refers to the time in spring when the grain begins to ripen. The first Passover occurred on the fifteenth day of Nisan, which became the first month of the Jewish calendar.
This timing occurred for good reason.
The Lord gave His people a plain explanation why the celebration should coincide with spring:
For [then] you came out of Egypt. —Exodus 23:15
God linked the Passover celebration with their redemption.
But why the springtime? There was a problem with the calendar that had to get fixed. Its fix offers a lasting lesson.
Even for Christians.
In my previous post, I offered some suggestions for how to prepare for a Holy Land Tour. After all, you’re investing a lot of money and significant time for this journey. It makes sense to prepare yourself beforehand so that you get the most from your experience in Israel.
But after you arrive in Israel, there are a number of ways you can ensure you get the most from your Holy Land tour.
The following 8 tips include both practical and spiritual ways to maximize your experience every single day you’re there.
If you regularly read my blog, it’s likely you share my interest in the Holy Land. Where biblical events took place are more than throwaway mentions in the pages of Scripture. Often, they have significant bearing on God’s participation in the lives of His people.
Unfortunately, because we’re unfamiliar with geography we often miss these nuggets. I have found a lot of help in several Holy Land blogs that open up the Bible’s lands to my understanding.
I want to share with you 5 of my favorite Holy Land blogs and provide you an easy way to follow them.
On the monochrome landscape north of the Dead Sea, a conspicuous green splotch appears at the western edge of the Jordan Rift Valley.
“The city of palm trees” exemplifies what we imagine when we picture an oasis.
Jericho’s date palm trees have roots that stretch toward a source of fresh water that has turned a desert into a garden. Visitors to Jericho, or Tell es-Sultan, can see the perennial spring that supported the city for centuries and provided a splendid irrigation system, distributing water to the plain as well as to all travelers in antiquity. Likely, Prophet Elisha purified this spring (2 Kings 2:21).
The “oldest city on earth” also sits as the lowest one—at more than 800 feet below sea level. Jericho owes its existence to the spring, to be sure. But the city also sits at the base of the primary roads that ascended from the Jordan Rift valley up to the Hill Country of Judea. Anyone crossing the Jordan River from the Plains of Moab had Jericho to face.
The walled city stood as a strategic roadblock that no one passing could ignore.
Not everybody can travel to Israel.
But everyone can benefit from including Bible lands in their personal Bible study. You just need some good tools.
I have discovered that including Bible lands in my study has given me more understanding of the Bible than learning Greek and Hebrew. The benefits of including Bible lands in the study of Scripture are available to everyone.
I’ve created what I consider a must-have list of resources. These are the tools I reach for first when I study—those resources that have proven most helpful to me for years.
I’ll give you the full list, and then I’ll suggest which ones to get first.