Must-Have Resources for Bible Lands Study

I've boiled down an essential list for you.

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.

Tabernacle model and courtyard

(Photo: Tabernacle Model. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I have discovered that including Bible lands in my study has given me more understanding of the Bible than I ever imagined. The benefits of including Bible lands in the study of Scripture are available to everyone.

Many people have asked what resources I recommend. So I’ve created what I consider a must-have list. 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.

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Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

How traveling along the path of the unknown gives us the chance to give God greater glory.

At Tel Arad, the whole land of Canaan lay before the Hebrews. They had waited and wandered forty years in the wilderness. The Promised Land was theirs for the taking. Right there before them!

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

(Photo: Arad Israelite fort, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Instead, God led the Hebrews on a major detour.

Tel Arad in Israel’s Negev offers many benefits to its visitors. It’s an oasis of ancient archaeology. It gives a rare glimpse of Judah’s idolatry.

And it speaks to us today of the need to tap the brakes on our impatience with God’s leading.

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Purim Offers Surprising Reasons Why God Put You Here

How coincidences in the Book of Esther point to your life.

Purim in Israel begins tonight. Purim represents more than costume parties for kids and eating triangular cookies filled with fruit (called “Haman’s Ears”). The holiday remembers the historical event in the book of Esther where the Jews survived a plot to exterminate them.

Purim in Israel—God Has You Where You Are for a Reason

(Photo: Hand-written scroll of the Book of Esther in Hebrew. By Chefallen. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia)

My favorite part of the modern celebration of Purim includes the reading of the book of Esther. Amazingly:

  • Esther is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God.
  • It never speaks of prayer.
  • It has no miracle.
  • And yet it’s Scripture.

The story of Esther is built on a growing series of seeming coincidences, all of which play essential to the story.

God is never seen or spoken of—yet He works quietly behind the scenes, orchestrating His sovereign will.

Just like in our lives.

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Your Rededication to God Can Begin Right Now

Get back to where you once belonged.

If you have visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, you’ve likely seen the etching engraved on the top of the steps. It marks where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Standing in the shadow of Lincoln gave greater force to Dr. King’s words that day. The site intensified the message.

Rededication

(Photo: warrengoldswain, via Vivozoom)

I’m convinced that’s why Joshua regathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem. The geographical context of his words played a significant role. They spoke as loudly as Joshua did that day.

And they speak to us.

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The Wilderness of Zin— Inspiring Awe but Not Obedience to God

Some of God's blessings come only against impossible odds.

I thought I understood the wilderness wanderings of Israel. Then I traveled through the wilderness. On my summer visits there, I never had to check the forecast. It only fluctuated from blistering to broiling.

Machtesh Ramon at sunrise.

Photo: Machtesh Ramon at sunrise. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

After a searing hike through this wilderness, a traveling companion of mine boarded the bus, his shirt sweat-soaked. He collapsed in his seat, and someone asked him if he now understood why the Hebrews grumbled and failed in obedience to God.

He took a long gulp from his canteen and then blurted, “I’m with them!”

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The Source of Our Peace—Reflections from Yom Yerushalayim

Why Peace Requires One Thing More than Anything Else

The holiday, Yom Yerushalayim, “Jerusalem Day” always reminds me of the T-shirt my grandmother bought me when she went to Jerusalem in 1987. (We men keep clothes way too long.)

The Source of Our Peace—Reflections from Yom Yerushalayim

(Photo: The Jaffa Gate, celebrating Jerusalem’s 40th Birthday. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Printed in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, the T-shirt celebrated “The 20th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem.” Yom Yerushalayim is a Jewish holiday annually celebrating the first time the Jews controlled Jerusalem since the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70.

Now almost 70 years since the beginning of the State of Israel, the land has just as much tension and heartache as ever. And much of the conflict cloaks its true motives in the name of religion.

One day in Jerusalem I saw a humorous sign that tried to bridge that religion gap.

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5 Things to Do In Israel You Maybe Haven’t Thought Of

Most Christian tours to Israel follow a predictable route. Begin in Tel Aviv, work your way up the coast, and spend a few days in Galilee before driving south to Jerusalem. Time is short.

5 Things to Do In Israel You Maybe Haven’t Thought Of

(Photo: Harvesting wheat at Yad HaShmonah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But if you find yourself in Israel with a day or so to burn, you might want to try something unusual. This post will highlight 5 things to do in Israel you probably haven’t considered.

I wrote last week about volunteer opportunities for Christians in Israel—a wonderful way to demonstrate our faith in the land we call holy.

Whether you’re into learning, walking, climbing, talking, or thinking you’ll likely find one of these uncommon activities inviting.

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15 Volunteer Opportunities in Israel for Christians

Most Christians who travel to Israel go to experience the land of the Bible—and they should. But there’s a unique way to experience Israel that 99% of visitors don’t get to do.

Volunteers at the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.

(Picture: Volunteers at the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.)

Not long ago the Israel Ministry of Tourism asked me to identify some volunteer activities that Christians would enjoy. These range from activities any tour could do in a couple of hours to volunteer opportunities that last for months, depending on one’s availability, ability, or interest.

Obviously, you don’t have to be a Christian to participate in these volunteer opportunities in Israel, but here are 15 I think you would enjoy.

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Why You Should Send Your Pastor to Israel

Give Your Pastor the Gift of Bible Lands

Your pastor likely has never seen the places he preaches about each week: the holy city of Jerusalem, the waves on the Sea of Galilee, the rocky slopes of the Judean wilderness. You can change that.

Jerusalem from east

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

To your pastor, these places may be mere words on the pages of his Bible—places he’s experienced only in his mind’s eye through pictures, Bible atlases, and travel videos.

Your pastor’s seminary gave him the biblical languages. But YOU can give him the Bible lands.

It’s easier than you think. Here’s how.

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How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

Have you noticed how often hymn writers use the Jordan River as a metaphor for transitions in the spiritual life? That may be because the Bible does the same.

How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Jordan River usually flowed a hundred feet wide at the place across from Jericho where Israel crossed over into Canaan after the Exodus (Joshua 3:14–4:23). But because the Israelites crossed at flood stage, the river surged much wider and deeper.

  • When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the water ceased its flow 16 miles upstream.
  • This left a stretch of dry land some 20 miles wide for the nation to cross en masse, perhaps several thousand abreast.

Joshua compared the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea (Joshua 4:23). He linked the power of God that allowed them to enter Canaan with the power that freed them from Egypt.

This was a critical comparison. Why? The same grace that redeemed them from bondage led them home.

This also reflects our own spiritual lives.

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