Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of leading tours of the nation of Israel. It has been a true joy to help guide hundreds of people in an exploration of the land where much of the events in the Bible took place. Exploring the oasis of Eingedi where David hid from King Saul, visiting Capernaum – the home base for much of Jesus’ earthly ministry, walking the shores of the Mediterranean where Paul was held captive in Caesarea, peering inside caves where animals were kept in Bethlehem – wondering if that was the spot where Jesus was born, seeing the massive stones that once composed the Temple Mount still cracking the pavement from when they were cast down by Titus in 70AD in the city of Jerusalem … it is an overwhelming journey (and these are just SOME of the amazing sites to behold).
NOTE: I am co-leading another trip with my good friend Mark Burget in June 2023 … if you are interested in joining us, please send me a message and I will get you the details!
When I first started going to Israel, I knew I would love visiting the biblical sites. As a student of the Scriptures I expected that. However, what I didn’t fully anticipate was my love of the people and modern history of this country. The guide we partner with in Israel is a remarkable man of tremendous skill, and an Israeli citizen. One of the highlights of each trip is getting to ask him so many questions about his country and the events unfolding around it.
One question I asked our guide related to the tribes of Israel. “What tribe are you from?,” I asked? I thought this was a good question, as Israel was comprised originally of 12 “tribes” – the descendants of 12 sons of Jacob (whose name was changed by God to Israel). His answer – “Judah, of course.” I asked how he knew. He said they are all “Jews” (a term derived from Judah, though Judah was just one of the 12 tribes.) He reminded me that the northern 10 tribes lost their identity in the time of the Assyrian invasion 2,600+ years ago.
This comment got me thinking. What about the rest of the tribes? Are they really gone? Are there no more Levites today, etc.? Is there anyone who can still distinguish their tribe? Ancestry.com? Anything?
Well, turns out, there is One who knows the tribal ancestry of the nation of Israel. And that One is God Himself. And, turns out, this tribal identity will matter again one day. Which day? The Day of the Lord. In the time of the judgment upon the earth at the end times and carrying on into the Kingdom that Jesus will reign over after His return, there will be a renewed identity of each of the tribes of the nation of Israel.
What is the purpose for this? Where is the church in the midst of all of this? Who will be the primary human witnesses on the earth for Jesus during the time of God’s seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments? And will ANYONE BELIEVE IN JESUS AND BE SAVED during the last days? And why does any of this matter to us?
This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be looking at Revelation 7:1-17 in part 2 of our series “Lord of the Earth” as we seek to answer these questions (and more). Hope you make plans to be a part of our time of worship this weekend! See you at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … and bring friends!