Calvary Chapel Israel Tour - Background
March 15 - 27, 2009

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First, I will start with a condensed version of Israel's history as I understand it.  Please forgive my tiny amount of knowledge in this area!  

2000 years before Jesus, God told Abraham (who was named Abram at the time), "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make unto you a great nation..." Genesis 12:1-2.  The Bible then tells us that they went to Canaan and there, "The LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land.'" Genesis 12:7  Canaan was the name of the area that is known as both Israel and Palestine today. 

Abraham's son Isaac had a son Jacob, who was renamed Israel in Genesis 32:28.  He had 12 sons who's descendents became the 12 tribes of Israel.  They ended up living in Egypt after a famine (there are some great stories I'm leaving out here, but I'm trying to keep this brief!)  Eventually they became slaves in Egypt and lived under those conditions for about 400 years.  Then God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, which is described in the book of Exodus.  

Then there was a period of wandering through the wilderness while the Israelites learned how to worship and to trust God and received their laws from God through Moses & Aaron. After the time of wandering, the Israelites were then allowed to take possession of the Promised Land. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. A final uprising from 132-135 A.D. lead to the complete destruction of the nation. The land was renamed "Palestina" (a Latinized version of "Philistine") by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and most of the Jews were scattered throughout the whole world. 

This made them a homeless nation, which was a bad spot to be in when Hitler decided to persecute them in the Holocaust. God works in amazing ways though, in that it is hard to imagine that the creation of the State of Israel would have happened under any less horrific conditions than the Holocaust. After the Nazi army was defeated, the UN wanted to divide the area into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. The Arab League did not recognize the resolution. Thus started a bunch of fighting that began with the Jews on the defensive, but slowly turned to them being on the offensive. On May 14, 1948, the Jews declared themselves to be an independent state. The following day the armies of five Arab countries Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq attacked Israel, launching the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Morocco, Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia also sent troops to assist the invaders. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were established. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949.

The coolest part is when you read the scripture of one of Isaiah's prophecies written around 700 B.C.  The scripture reads, "Before she goes into labor, she gives birth!  Before her contractions begin, she delivers a boy!  Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen this? Can a country be brought forth in one day? Can a nation be born in a single moment? Yet as soon as Zion goes into labor she gives birth to sons!"  Isaiah 66:7-8 writes this: The State of Israel would be reborn in just one day in 1948. Isaiah describes a woman giving birth before going into labor, and he speaks of a country being born in one day. This describes what happened on May 14, 1948. Isaiah said the birth would take place before the labor pains. And that too is precisely what happened. A movement called Zionism began in the 1800s to encourage Jews worldwide to move to Israel, which at that time was called Palestine. Within hours of the declaration of independence in 1948, Israel was attacked by all of its surrounding countries.  

When reading Isaiah 66:7-8, keep in mind that Israel's status as a sovereign nation was established and reaffirmed during the course of a single day, and that it was born of a movement called Zionism, and that its declaration of independence was not the result of a war but rather the cause of one.  

Anyway, obviously a lot of other things happened but I wanted to hit the highlights here, again, as I understand them.  I know that my knowledge is very limited. 

I thought I would include a short blurb about my own history here, for those that are curious as to why I wanted to go to Israel.  I grew up always thinking that I was a Christian, but it was something I totally took for granted and I really never gave it much thought.  Thankfully, the past 7 years have been a journey of taking my faith more and more seriously and trying to live by it as best I can.  It has been a truly wonderful experience for me.

I wanted to go to Israel to learn more about the Bible and its history.  It is just like God to turn a 'fact-finding' mission into a wonderful trip like the one we had.  I did learn a lot - but I also made some really great friends, saw many beautiful things, and had experiences that I will never forget.  Awesome!


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