Shalom, Shalom—How Israel Impacted Me

Larry and I recently returned from a 10-day tour of Israel with one of our favorite Bible teachers Ken Boa. Larry described our first trip to Israel as drinking out of a fire hydrant. In other words, we sped through the paths Jesus strolled!

The day we walked the Via Dolorosa (“Way of Grief” in Latin) an unexpected sorrow touched me not directly related to this being the path our Lord walked carrying His cross.

We started in the Muslim quarter. Muslim women returning from prayer crowded the narrow paths. I saw plenty of wary, dark eyes but no smiles. Their long, heavy garments looked uncomfortable and confining under the intense Mediterranean sun and symbolic of their religion.

The Via Dolorosa leads through various stations marking significant occurrences on Jesus’ walk to Calvary. It ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where many historians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Excessively ornate, crowded, and dark—I found the place more suffocating than inspiring. Pilgrims kissed the stone on the floor where Jesus’ body had supposedly lain after being taken down from the cross. As we stepped out of the church the eerie Muslim call to prayer began.

The Muslims pray five times a day. Some don’t even understand the language in which they pray. The basic principle of Islam is absolute submission to Allah. The only assurance they have of reaching heaven is to die in Jihad. The media calls those who practice Jihad radical extremist, but Ken Boa pointed out that those who practice Jihad are actually consistent with the teachings of the Quran. Mohammad became a warlord in his later years. Those writings trump his earlier peaceful thoughts.

Our visit to the Western Wall reinforced the difference Christ makes. The Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine on the other side of the wall, now covers the place where Solomon’s Temple once stood. The Jews pray at the Western Wall because it is the closest place they can get to where the holy of holies once rested inside the ark of the covenant.

Young men gathered in a large circle to sing and dance before the Western Wall on Jubilee Day, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Jews regaining their holy city Jerusalem. It was the only day I saw men from the strict Hasidic Jewish sect smile.

A fence separates the men and women who come to pray. Many insert their prayers rolled up into tiny scrolls into the Western Wall believing this is the closest they can come to God.

This is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Col. 1:27 Share on X

 

As we walked the tunnel under the plaza where thousands of worshippers stood, I laid my hand on the Western Wall. No sensation zipped through me. God is not buried under an Islamic shrine. Today He lives in the heart of every believer.

While our Jewish guide arose at 5 a.m. to dip in the Mediterranean Sea to purify himself the day we visited the Temple Mount, we have been purified by the blood of Jesus. “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19 NASB).

Our Jewish guide wore sandals to show respect. Religious Jews don’t wear leather to this holy place. Even with all of this they don’t ascend the Temple Mount.

I returned burdened for those who worship places and miss the person of Christ, for those who work for favor they know they may never secure. The image of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem weighed on me.

On the temple mount even the men had to cover their knees—nice skirt.

Yet, I marveled anew that Christ lives in me. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Emmanuel” means “God with us.” What a wonder to realize we walk and live with the Holy One! No rituals. No covered knees and shoulders. When Jesus comes to live in us He clothes us in His robe of righteousness. What a Savior!

Larry contemplating the Temple Mount being split in two by an earthquake at Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:4).

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Blessings,

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Pam

    What a treat to spend a few minutes in Israel with you this day. Thank you for inviting us all to join you !..yes, our bodies are now “the Temple” where Christ resides. If only we could show the same respect to our bodies as the residents of Israel do to their holy shrines.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Great point, Pam. And thanks for joining me!

      • Becky Johnson

        Thank you sharing your heart as you walked where Jesus walked. I have heard it is powerful and said that his chosen people have not experienced the priesthood of the believer. We are indeed blessed to have a personal loving dwelling savior!

        • Debbie Wilson

          Amen and amen, Becky! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kim Carlton

    Wow Debbie thank your for sharing this incredible experience. I could sense the sobering feeling from all your pictures. What an amazing trip for you and Larry.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Kim. It was amazing. And there was a lot of fun too. But the soberness was very real for me.

  3. Sue

    wow, that was profound. I loved it. I have never heard of anyone’s visit tot he Holy Land speaking from that perspective. Thank you so much. It gives me a renewed love and gratefulness for my Savior.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Sue, that is exactly what it did for me. I’m so thankful you got that too.

  4. Kay Holland

    Debbie,

    Thank you so much for sharing these insights and photographs!
    I especially appreciate your sensitivity to the Spirit . It brings to mind
    that future day – perhaps it will come soon- when the Lord will ,
    “Pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace
    and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will
    mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one
    who grieves for a firstborn son.” [Zech.12:10]
    “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” [Rev. 22:17]

    Shalom to you! Kay

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen, Kay. And to you!

  5. Ella

    I love this. Your insight (Holy Spirit IS our teacher) was wonderful. Agree with Ken on the teachings of Islam. It’s not extremism, it’s their belief whether they are willing to act on it or not. Thank for letting this homebody enjoy your travels.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ella, do you still have your Ruby slippers?

  6. Ann

    What a Savior indeed! Great pictures and love hearing what you saw and how it impacted you. Thank you for sharing your amazing trip here.

    • Debbie Wilson

      My pleasure, Ann. Thank you for sharing it with me!

  7. Marilyn C.

    Debbie, thank-you for the pictures & your thoughts. I felt
    the same weighing on me when I
    looked out over Jerusalem from
    the Mount of Olives, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, You who kill the prophets & stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matt. 23:37
    As the storm clouds gather, may
    many run to Christ & Him crucified – “He who dwells in the
    shelter of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty…..He will cover you with His Feathers & under His Wings you will find refuge…”
    Ps. 91: 1,2,& 4. So glad you &
    Larry had the opportunity to
    experience up close the freedom
    that only Christ brings & also the burden for others who are
    bound & blind. He has called us to pray & trust that w/ Christ all
    things are possible! You & Larry
    are a light in a dark world. Take your time & rest up from the trip.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Marilyn. Your prayers carried us!

  8. Debbie

    You have taken me on this wonderful journey with you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      I’m so glad.

  9. Buddy Hill

    Debbie, you write beautifully of your thoughts and feelings concerning the experience we shared in the Holy Land. Thank you.

    God’s blessings to you & Larry!

    Buddy & Nancy Hill

    • Debbie Wilson

      Buddy and Nancy, it was wonderful to meet you both! I hope our group can somehow stay connected.

  10. Nan

    Thank you Debbie for sharing your photos and letting us see Isereal through your lens and heart.
    Blessing , Nan

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Nan! And for your prayers while we were gone.

  11. Kim

    Hi Debbie -Fun to read your observations as David and I were there for 9 days in Feb and I had reactions to some things different than I’d expected. Would be fun to have a telephone chat sometime and compare notes!

  12. Debbie Wilson

    Kim, I’d love to connect sometime. It’s been too long!

  13. Rachel Price

    Thank you for sharing. My favorite is Larry standing at the Temple Mount where Jesus will return. What a day that will be.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Rachel, doesn’t it make your heart leap to think about it? Yes, what a day it will be. Love hearing from you.

  14. Pam Ecrement

    Thank you so much for taking us with you via your words and photos of this historic trip. I was hoping you would do that and let us glimpse inside this time in such a significant place in biblical history. I appreciated the fact of the change in Mohammed and how the Quran must be understood in the light of that. It sheds great light on what we see happening in the world today as jihad is spread throughout the world. Come Lord Jesus!!

    Great photos and so glad you are back safely.

    • Debbie Wilson

      It does, Pam. One of our guides shared how his son was a medic in the Israeli army. He tended injured Arab and Israeli soldiers. He later learned that some of those he tended were killed when they returned home and said that the Israelis weren’t so bad. Now we know why they don’t speak out against the horrible things that are done. It would put their own lives in danger.

  15. John Mutch

    Dear Debbie,

    Thank you for some thought – provoking and intriguing comments.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, John.

  16. Beth

    What an amazing trip, Debbie! I have wanted to visit the Holy Land in years past, but now with all of the terrorism in the Middle East and Europe, I’m content to stay home and look at beautiful photos like yours! I’m so glad that you had that experience and shared the memories you have of that place where our Savior walked. But yes! yes! yes! We have the Spirit of Christ within us, so no need to go to a wailing wall. The walls of our heart are the sacred place where our Savior listens to us and empowers us. It truly is so sad that these people miss that when they come these places. I’m praying that you had a lingering influence on your Jewish guide as well. Thanks so much for sharing! I loved this post!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, Beth, to know Christ lives in us is truly amazing! Visiting whet my appetite to learn more about the places of Israel. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts.

  17. Jim Gregory

    Hi Debbie. I had the same feelings you did. We worship a living God! It was fascinating to visit places but that is not what we worship. And you so accurately capture the difference between light and darkness. We are indeed blessed. Hope to see you and Larry soon.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jim, we are the blessed ones! Hello to you and Roslyn.

  18. Donna Reidland

    What stark contrasts, as you pointed out between biblical Christianity and false religions, like Islam, and even living under the law as devout Jews are. Thanks for reminding us about the blessings of grace.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Donna. I always enjoy your thoughts.

  19. Horace Williams Jr.

    What fantastic photo journalism here Debbie. Thank you for the insights you share here. My heart is saddened as I read about the thousands of lost souls that have not welcomed Christ into their hearts. I do love the fantastic pictures and the captions you included. This must have been an incredible trip and I thank you again for giving us a glimpse. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and continued blessings to you and yours in the New Year.

    • Debbie Wilson

      It was Horace. And having some time away from it I am able to appreciate different aspects of it even more. Happy New Year!

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