Caves in Israel—Manmade and God-made

When you think of ancient Israel, it’s likely you don’t think of caves. And yet, the country has literally thousands of them that have played a role in history. They’re still there.

From the caves in Mount Arbel, to those that provide sheepfolds in Bethlehem, to the Qumran caves that preserved the Hebrew text, the land is honeycombed with caves.

Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park—See the Story in History

(Photo: Exploring the Caves in Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Photo by James Foo)

One area particularly filled with caves is the Shephelah, the low rolling foothills that slope down between the Hill Country of Judea and the Philistine plain. Not all of these subterranean labyrinths allow for spelunking visitors. But let’s look at two that do.

One of these caves men made thousands of years ago.

Another one God made over thousands of years.

Unwrap the Bible’s Treasures in 4 Steps

After I bought my 1897 edition of  The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, I opened its dingy, yellow pages and discovered I couldn’t turn some of them. The London publisher had made an error.

Unwrapped treasures await

(Photo: I have to read this book with a pair of scissors.)

The book was printed on large sheets which were then cut and bound into the book. But some of the edges never got trimmed. I had to cut each pair of pages myself. At first this was a real hassle.

But then it hit me . . . I am the first person ever to read these pages!

The book sat on the shelf of some library or study for over a century—untouched! All its benefits . . . hidden. Nobody read them. Each time I cut a page seemed like cutting the ribbon on an unwrapped present. The rich descriptions George Adam Smith has written are the next best thing to pictures.

I bought a used book no one had used.

An Awkward Question

Then a question popped in my head: How long would it take me to notice if pages of my Bible were stuck together? The Bible is a book of treasures, often unwrapped, because we simply don’t realize its tremendous value to our lives.

I want to share with you 4 steps that can help you unwrap the Bible’s treasures.

Michmash—Overwhelming Odds and Your Powerful God

When the Bible includes geographical references, they appear as more than throwaway statements. Often they play a vital role in our understanding and application of the Bible.

Michmash—Overwhelming Odds and Your Powerful God

(Photo: Cliffs near Michmash and Geba. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For example, geography bears importance as to how Jonathan and his armor-bearer—only two men—could help rout the entire Philistine army.

The geographic descriptions given in 1 Samuel 14:4-5 describe two steep crags on either side of a great ravine separating Geba on the south from Michmash on the north. Here Jonathan and his armor bearer scaled the crags for a surprise attack on the Philistine garrison at Michmash.

Because geography does not change, these natural elements remain for us to easily imagine the story.

As well as its application.

3 Sites by Beersheba You Seldom See—Arad, Besor, and Aroer

Most students of the Bible know about Beersheba. It played a major role in Genesis, and yet, few pilgrims go there today. That’s strange, because there’s plenty to see at Tel Beersheba.

3 Sites by Beersheba You Seldom See—Arad, Besor, and Aroer

(Photo: Beersheba tell from east. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Visitors today can observe various remains, including:

  • a typical Israelite four-room house
  • a pillared building used as stables
  • a major underground water system

As significant as Tel Beersheba is, it seldom finds itself on the tour itinerary of pilgrims to the land of Israel—probably because the site seems too far south. Beersheba has several neighboring sites that even fewer see (or have even heard of).

Let’s take a peek at these 3 sites and see their significance.

How to Serve God When Nobody Notices

Sometimes it’s tough to serve God in the shadows. You show up faithfully. You contribute your part, but no one seems to notice. Matthias may have felt that way.

How to Serve God When Nobody Notices

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

Ever since John the Baptist had prepared the way for the Messiah, Matthias had followed.

  • He had walked in Jesus’ footsteps from the Jordan River to the rugged hills of Galilee.
  • He had followed the Savior with passion and persuasion.

But without recognition. Matthias was a willing unknown.

In those moments we beg God to rescue us from our insignificant lives, believing nothing important is happening with us, Matthias reminds us that just the opposite is true.

Top 5 Gifts for Bible Lands Study

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?

Top 5 Gifts for Bible Lands and Bible Study

(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).

How to Move from Fear to Faith

Sometimes fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words.

Moving from fear to faith

(Photo: rinderart, via Vivozoom)

Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous.

It was almost as large as the fears we face today.

How to Resist Temptation Like Jesus

Everybody faces temptation.

And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus.

How to resist temptation like Jesus

(Photo: Tyler Olson, via Vivozoom)

I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.

Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.

How did Jesus resist temptation here?

Revealing the Lies of Temptation

Congratulations, Mr. Stiles, you’ve just won an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii!”

“No thanks.”

“You mean . . . you don’t want it?” I hung up. It was a short conversation.

Revealing the Lies of Temptation

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

A solicitor does not call to give anything—unless he or she ultimately gets more back in return.

I have discovered the devil is the same way. Satan knows how to market to people. He’s been doing it a long time. From the beginning, in fact.

Journey to Israel Video

Studying Bible lands has permanently marked my life and changed the way I understand the Scriptures. My experience is not unique.

I have videotaped a number of interviews with those who have both studied geography and also been to Israel. I hope this video encourages you personally to experience the Lands of the Bible for yourself . . . or at least to begin praying about the possibility. It’s worth it.

(If your RSS reader or email doesn’t show the video, click here)