The Calvary Chapel UK Israel Bible Study Tour takes place 17th-24th September 2019 (closing date for applications is 13th May). Thomas Fretwell explains why you should consider joining us…

In a few months, I will join a group from Calvary Chapel UK on a Bible study tour of Israel. I would like to share some reasons why you should think about joining us. As I contemplate returning to the Land of the Bible I am reminded of a quote from the 4th Century church father Jerome, a Bible scholar and the man who gave us the Latin Vulgate translation. He said:

“There are five gospels that record the life of Christ. There are the four we have recorded in the Scripture and the ‘fifth’ can only be experienced by traveling to the lands where Jesus walked. It’s by experiencing this Fifth Gospel that you’ll be able to read the other four in their fullness.”

Now as Christians we know that God is just as present with us in the UK as He is in Israel, yet there is a wonderful truth to Jerome’s statement that can only be discovered through personal experience. Aside from the thousands of years of biblical history that will be under your feet, you will discover the rich tapestry of cultures that exist there today, as well as tasting the fabulous local cuisine. 

There will be many more life changing experiences that you will encounter on a trip to Israel, here are a few of them:

1. You will read your Bible in 3D

Perhaps the most transforming experience about visiting Israel is studying the Bible in the Land where it happened. You will experience fresh insights and context to the Scriptures. Locations and events of the Bible will be given new life as you no longer just imagine the sights, smells, colours, and views of scripture. To sit on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the sea of Galilee and study Matthew chapter 5 is life changing. To worship the Lord on the sea of Galilee and see the landscape that the disciples saw when they were on the Galilee will bring your Bible reading to life.  

You will gain a greater appreciation for the historical and geographical elements of the Christian faith, connecting our faith to the earth in a tangible way. As you visit locations where the Prophets of Old did their wonderous deeds and look out over the battlegrounds of the armies of ancient Israel, you can appreciate how the faithfulness of God to His covenant has sustained His people. You will also be stirred up considering the promises that remain to be fulfilled in that Land. No Christian can stand on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount, without hearing the words of Zechariah the prophet “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east” Zechariah 14:4). The reality of the promise of His return to set up His Kingdom will stir you up to Holy living, just as it did for the first generation of believers all those years ago. 

It is no wonder that Billy Graham said the following: 

“…no one can visit Israel without a deeper appreciation and a stronger faith in the Bible”. 

These encounters will forever shape the way you interact with the biblical text. You will gain a new and deeper appreciation for the detail and geography of the Bible. You will gain a richer understanding and passion for your Bible. This will bring the Bible to life in full colour – a transforming experience for any follower of Jesus. 

2. Understand the importance of Modern Israel

Although the nation of Israel is tiny, barley 150 miles in length and 90 miles across, it plays a crucial and unique role in the Middle East. Rather than absorbing your knowledge of Israel from the media, which is strongly coloured by an interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, see for yourself the reality. Israel is often claimed to be an apartheid state, a visit to the Land will show the vacuous nature of such claims. Israel has a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society, a liberal democracy whose legal system upholds the rights for all its citizens. Israel’s 25% non-Jewish minority have equal voting rights and can hold seats in parliament. Arab citizens have absolute freedom of movement in Israel – See for yourself. 

In many ways modern Israel is a miracle, from the devastation of World War two, the little reborn nation of Israel has made the deserts bloom to create a thriving nation with a strong economy. It has become a world leader in technological innovations, medicines, agriculture, disaster relief, and many other blessings to the world. 

And finally, it is probably now more important than ever you truly understand what anti-Semitism is. It is something we hear daily in the news on the UK, often hiding behind the veneer of anti-Zionism. A trip to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum will change the way you think about the issue for ever. It is an emotionally testing part of the tour, but a necessary one. 

3. Learn to Pray for the Land

As you visit the “epicentre” of the Bible you will gain a new understanding and appreciation for the specific needs of the people in the Land, both Jews and Arabs. It will help you grasp the security concerns, the unique tensions that exist, and the need for the Gospel to be preached throughout the Land. This will help you to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). 

4. Meet the Jewish Jesus

Visiting the land of Israel will help us place Jesus in His historical and cultural context. A far cry from the interpretations of much of Church History, far from being the blonde-haired man from medieval art, Jesus was a 1st Century Jew. Studying His words in the correct cultural and religious context will help you understand the Hebraic nature of His messianic claims and teaching.

5. Have fun!

There is also time to relax, enjoy the culture and unique opportunities that Israel has to offer. The Galilee is spectacular in its beauty and the weather is lovely this time of year. The opportunity to swim in the dead sea is not to be missed. Take a cable car up the side of a mountain to the Old Roman fortress of Masada or walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel from 701 B.C. Enjoy the food and fellowship that will be part of this tour. 

Why not consider joining us for this life changing experience?