In my last post, we were sitting at JFK International Airport; waiting to board an El Al Airlines flight to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. We boarded the plane and began an 11 hour journey in the air. I really didn't know what to expect as far as how my body would adjust...how do you rest in an airline seat? More importantly when would we get to eat? The plane we were taking had 60 rows with 10 seats per row. That didn't include the 1st class seating in the second story cabin. I am always amazed at how something this big could even fly!
We pushed out of the terminal and the flight began. Since the flight was going to Israel, there was just as many, if not more, people of Hebrew descent than Gentiles. This made for an interesting cultural adjustment. English was not the primary language and Hebrew is not a language one can listen to and "pick up." Most of the night, I sat and observed people. I would see an almost constant stream of Jewish men going to the area where the exit doors were. This gave them some extra space to don their robes and other religious paraphernalia so they could recite their daily prayers. These prayers however, were based upon the writings of a Rabbi and not the writings of God. I was amazed by the motions and the rituals they went through. As I sat and watched, I saw people placing their beliefs, their life, and their future on the ways of men instead of the ways of God. As sincere as they were in their actions they were sincerely wrong.
Dr. Steve Cook sat in front of me and next to him were two jewish sisters born in Switzerland; though both married men from Israel and they moved there with their husbands. While I could not hear everything (I admit I was eavesdropping), I enjoyed listening to Steve work to gain their trust. He started out with simple introductions, followed by family pictures and then moved to the five grandchildren that he and his wife, Cosie have. They were very timid at first but who can refuse pictures of the grandchildren? Steve then moved into the Old Testament and used those scriptures to introduce them to Jesus. While they did not accept Jesus as Savior that day, the seed was planted, someone will come along to water, and God will give the increase.
We touched down about 5:30 p.m. and it was already dark. We left in the dark and landed in the dark...what a long plane ride that was! After going through customs and the baggage claim we met with Avi Ben-Joseph, our guide for the next few days. He is extremely proud of his country and its accomplishment in just 67 years of existence. Imagine a country about the size of the state of New Jersey, situated in an area where every one of its neighbors hate them and want them destroyed. Israel is a land of accomplishment and God clearly has his hand upon them. Israel's population is one half of one percent of the world yet they account for over 33 percent of the Noble Peace prizes given and should probably have been given more if there was not such a bias against them.
We arrived at the Leonardo Bat Yam Hotel to spend the first night. Tomorrow, we head up the western shore of the Mediterranean Sea and visit such sights as the old city of Jaffa (Joppa), Haifa, Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, and Meggido where the Battle of Armageddon will take place. Enjoy your coffee...more to come.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.