Israel’s International Highway—A Picture of Your Influence

Always ask yourself: Who is influencing whom?

Where God places us is no accident. Throughout biblical history, the land of Israel sat in an amazingly strategic position as the only intercontinental land bridge between the superpowers of the ancient world.

The most important international highway of the Fertile Crescent ran the length of the land of Israel.

The Via Maris Highway—Israel's Picture of Your Influence

(Photo: The Via Maris ran beside ancient Tel Hazor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call this international highway the Via Maris, or the “Way of the Sea.” Any nation coming to or from Egypt, or traveling from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, had to go through Israel. For many years, Israel remained the crossroads for international imperialism, war, and trade.

It’s hard to believe at first, but this highway offers a practical principle for our daily lives.

It’s all about influence.

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Wall Give a Lesson from Archaeology

Scripture is supported by what we can dig out of the ground.

The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

(Photo: Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.

Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God. How does it strengthen your faith to see the Bible in archaeology?

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Caesarea Philippi (Banias)—From the god Pan to the God-Man

Refreshing hope from the Son of God and the sons of Korah

In a land where water is life, it’s no wonder one of the major sources of water would become a primary place of worship. Regrettably, the god worshipped at Banias was not the God of Israel.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi forms the headwaters of the Jordan River. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The flowing streams and the nearby waterfalls offer some of the most pleasant and inviting surroundings for tours, holidays, and family outings. What an absolutely beautiful area!

But that’s not why Jesus came here.

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How Geography Helps Destroy Your Doubts about the Bible

What you can verify about Scripture supports what you cannot prove.

I had lunch with a young man who nursed serious doubts about the Bible. He raised objections. I offered answers. After each exchange, he would shake his head and say, “I just can’t believe that’s true.”

How Geography Helps Destroy Your Doubts about the Bible

(Photo: Pisidian Antioch cardo with Church of St Paul. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

“What if I answered all of your questions to your satisfaction?” I finally asked. “Would you believe in Jesus then?” He thought for a moment, and then looked me in the eye. His answer surprised me.

“No, I wouldn’t.”

In truth, many people demand evidence for truth they never intend to accept. Their problem isn’t a lack of truth. It’s something else.

I have discovered that biblical geography can help destroy our doubts about the Bible.

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Joppa’s Greatest Export May Actually Surprise You

God's compassion to Gentiles launched here in both Testaments.

One of the best parts of going to Tel Aviv is strolling down the beautiful seaside boardwalk to ancient Joppa. Amazingly, very little remains visible to speak of Joppa’s significance. But history tells a different story.

Joppa’s Greatest Export—God’s Compassion

(Photo: Joppa’s modern port, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Only a few fishing boats float in Joppa’s modest harbor today, hardly representative of its significant past. Beyond goods and trade, Joppa greatest export was something else.

It may actually surprise you.

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The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn’t Fulfilling

Many Christians feel like oddballs in their local churches, confused why serving God holds such little joy or passion. Not fulfilling. Just frustrating. I get it. Let me explain.

2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn't Fulfilling

(Photo by Photodune)

I hold as my single claim to fame the day I danced for the judges at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But I’ll be honest: I never intended to dance. I auditioned as a guitar player, yet when the judges called me back the next day, they asked me to dance as well! Bad idea.

End of audition. I immediately lost the job. Why? They misplaced me. 

You know where else I see dancing guitarists? The church.

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My Yom Kippur Conversation about the Messiah

The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.

She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.

She smiled and shook her head no.

Western Wall Plaza

(Photo: Western Wall Plaza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.

Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.

“Do you keep them?” I asked.

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8 Tips to Maximize Your Holy Land Tour

How to make your journey magnificent.

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.

8 Tips to Maximize Your Holy Land Tour

(Photo: Western Wall and Temple Mount, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

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.

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Mary Magdalene—A Change You’d Never Expect

Her name is as well-known as any apostle. Yet the truth about her life often lies shrouded behind myths, fiction, and flat-out conjecture.

Mary Magdalene—A Change You’d Never Expect

(Painting by José de Ribera. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern art and bestselling novels paint her as everything from a prostitute to the infamous woman caught in adultery to the wife of Jesus Himself.

But the Scriptures portray Mary Magdalene as a different person altogether.

Surprisingly, she was more like us than we would expect.

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