Twenty-three of us journeyed to Israel this year.
We toured with this wonderful guide named Yair. (i-ear)
He's wise, witty, so kind and so smart.
He has this tour business down to a fine art.
We traveled the length of his homeland.
This marvelous history-filled Holy land.
We laughed, we cried, we pondered
How the prophets of old had wandered
From Mt. Carmel to Galilee,
Where we set forth on that glassy blue sea.
We toured that land so grand.
We walked with our Lord
In Spirit, hand in hand.
We stepped in places where His feet had walked.
We heard only the wind as we stood
In places where He had talked.
Mt. Hermon was grand in the morning light,
In whose shadow we had slept the past night.
Jesus took Peter, James and John to this mountain high,
Where they saw Him transformed before their eyes.
Moses and Elias appeared with Him there.
Their purpose to strengthen our Lord
And help Him with all He would bear.
The Jordan River we'd read of so much.
We stood on its' banks and were touched,
As we thought of our Lord who came on this way
To be baptized by John on that special day.
We thought of the Spirit of God as a dove,
Descending, declaring that this was the Son that He loved.
We first saw this sea in the morning light.
This wonderful Sea of Galilee.
We closed our eyes and we could see
Our Lord as He walked in the midst of it there.
We saw as He calmed the winds to spare
The ship and His disciples, always under His care.
"It's living water, it's life"
Thus spake Yair of this sea.
"It takes and it gives and it could be
Another symbol, another image for life." said he.
We walked and we sang on the Mt. of Beatitudes.
We pondered the sermon Christ had taught there,
To bring about in the people a great change of attitude.
We stood and gazed at the Galilee Sea
As we envisioned the multitudes
Who came to hear and to see
This man who would shortly die on a tree.
We traveled beside the Dead Sea.
The lowest spot on the face of this earth.
We wondered how it could be
So normal appearing
And yet be so deadly.
Masada we climbed that day,
As Yair told us the story of the Zealots
Encamped on that mountain top, determined to stay.
We learned of their valiant fight.
How they battled Roman soldiers day and night.
But their long struggle was to no avail
As their fortress and their efforts finally did fail.
The Caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls we beheld
In the midst of that desert, so barren and brown.
We listened as Yair started to tell
Of the Bedouin boy and what he had found.
The wonder of the discovery that day
Increased the faith of the world
And caused many who might have fallen, to stay.
The Mt. of Temptation we viewed
And our faith was renewed,
As we remembered how Our Lord Jesus
Was tempted by Satan and how
With faith in Him and His Word
We strive to follow His example now.
Yair took us to Jericho, that city of old,
Where Joshua by his God was told
How to conquer that city, how to take down the wall.
In our mind's eye, we marched with him there.
We marched with Joshua; we saw that wall fall.
We watched as smoke rose from that space,
For Joshua burned that city,
Destroyed all but Rahab in that place.
As we entered Jerusalem that afternoon
To the strains of the beautiful song by that name.
As our eyes filled with tears that silently came,
Our hearts beat with joy, that soon
From that Jericho Road that Jesus had trod
We would see the walled city of old, that City of God.
The Mt. of Olives we went to next day,
That holy place where Jesus was wont to go pray,
That Gethsemane Garden that He loved so well,
Where an angel appeared to strengthen Him, to help Him to say,
"My Father, Thy will be done on this day."
"We'll walk downhill." said Yair.
"But it's really uphill, emotionally uphill, spiritually uphill."
We would realize the truth of his words as we began to feel
The power of the place where our Lord was betrayed.
We saw the rock where He knelt down and prayed.
We remembered how His disciples had all run away.
From the Mt. of Olives we looked across
To the sealed Eastern Gate with a pang.
That Eastern Gate of which we had so many times sang.
That Gate has been sealed for hundreds of years
By those who thought they would not let a Messiah appear.
That Eastern Gate we'll symbolically enter
When that Messiah does come to judge the sinner.
We gazed across the Valley of Kidron as Yair
His story began to tell
And to point out the City of David, Mt. Zion
And in the distance, Bethlehem, where the shepherds did hear
Of the birth that night of the Christ Child so dear.
We stood on top of Mt. Moriah one day,
Where Abraham in obedience to God in this way
Was ready to sacrifice Isaac, his son
And thus God did count it as though it were done.
We stood at the foot of the hill with the cross.
In quiet meditation we gazed at that place.
The Place of the Skull, and thought of the Father's great loss.
Two hollow eyes appear in the rock there.
We thought of the ones who stood there who cared.
That apostle whom He loved and Mary, the mother he'd share.
We saw Joseph's tomb where they laid our Lord.
We saw the place where He lay.
We saw where the angles rolled the stone away.
We saw where He had risen on that First Day.
Early on that First Day of the Week,
Our Savior arose from the grave as He said He would do.
To Mary Magdalene He appeared first and to her He did speak.
Then John whom He loved and Peter who denied Him thrice
Ran to the tomb, searching for Christ.
Our risen Lord remained forty days,
Appeared to His disciples as they walked in the way.
When it was time for Him to ascend
Where would He go but to that loved place?
The Mt. of Olives, over toward Bethany,
Is where His earth's journey would end.
As His disciples watched, a cloud received Him out of their sight.
As they looked stedfastly toward Heaven
Two angels appeared to them, dressed all in white.
"Why stand ye gazing toward Heaven?" they said. So
"This same Jesus you saw taken up
Will come in like manner as you saw Him go."
Into this land of Israel we twenty-three went,
Not knowing what impact we'd see.
Not knowing how much closer we'd be
To the Lord who was sent.
Not knowing how close to our God we would draw.
Not knowing how much more real His Word and His Law.
We came home different people from the ones who had gone.
We appreciate more the price Jesus paid
As He arose on that dawn.
There is a burning desire to go once again
To learn more, to see more,
To draw closer still
To God and His Son who died on that hill.
Pansy Hundley
December 1999
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