• Written by Mallorie Rast •

Day one in Israel started with a 6 a.m. wake up call to our jet-lagged bodies. Brightened by the steaming hot coffee, many of us enjoyed the Israeli spin on traditional breakfast foods while others adventurously tried cheeses, breads, and other foods we could not identity. Personally, I would recommend any of the cheeses or the roasted quinoa-plus-other-ingredients-stuffed peppers.

With Eli expertly at the wheel of the bus and Dan no less expertly guiding us through the sights along the way, our group left Tel-Aviv. This first day was a whirlwind as we stopped at Kiriath-Jearim, where we saw the reconstruction of a typical Jewish olive press; Bet Shemesh, the city where the Ark of God was returned by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4-6); Azekah, the Philistine hill overlooking the Valley of Elah during the battle between David and Goliath; Bet Guvien/Maresha with the Columbarium and Bell Caves; we drove through the Desert of Judea and finally floated in the Dead Sea!

With spiritual teaching from Nathan and historical and practical knowledge from Dan, the Sunday School stories we heard from childhood became living color. For the first time I understood why Samson did not tell his parents about the lion he slew (Judges 14), or why the Philistines camped between Shochoh and Azekah, making the Israelites quake in their boots. (If you too want to know why, then I suggest you go on this trip!) As we saw hills and felt the rocks that David would have seen and felt while gathering his smooth stones from the brook, and climbed down the cool cistern like the one the prophet Jeremiah was thrown into (Jeremiah 38), we gained a greater empathy and understanding for the great drama God orchestrated in His Holy Land.

Like David … we selected rocks in the brook at the Valley of Elah

Today, Nathan challenged us with several personal applications, three of which stuck out in my mind. 1) “You cannot fight the enemy looking like the enemy.” 2) As Christians, we are called to be courageous, audacious and to actually live our faith out with power and excellence. David did, and slew a giant with one shot. We have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit, should we not much more obey and watch God perform great things? 3) At the time of Samson in Judges 13, 25% of the discarded bones from food were swine (a direct compromise/violation of God’s commandment to the Israelites not to eat pork or any portion of a pig for food [Deu. 14:8]). The Israelites allowed the surrounding nations to influence them in subtle ways, allowing themselves to no longer be completely set apart for God—even in the “innocent” area of eating of pork. I would like to forward Nathan’s challenge to you: “What are the pig bones in your life?” Where are you allowing the world to influence your decisions and actions? Where are you acting like the old man instead of the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)?

Fancy robes at the Dead Sea … we are ready for a Dead Sea float!

Interested in learning about future Israel Study Tours? Our next trip is scheduled for April 2020 and details/registration will be announced early September. Go to to sign up for details/updates and to be notified first when the trip officially opens up.

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