by Tuija Paasovaara

Why do you have to go to Israel again? Isn’t it unsafe? It is full of terrorists, soldiers, apartheid and rockets. All kinds of fundamentalist, religious people.

These are the words you might hear if you want to visit Israel again and again. They have the wrong picture, but it is the most common view you are given by media. They won’t tell you about the beauty, nature, and wonders of Israel, nor about all Israel’s people who live and work there. They’ll never tell you about the one and only living God of Israel, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Our God. And that Israel is the apple of His eye.

My eighth visit to the Holy Land from my home in Finland in February 2014 was one of my best journeys. Travelling with a group of believers gives it a special blessing. When you read an episode from the Bible at the place where it really happened, it makes the Word alive. When standing at Mt Carmel you can almost see Elijah and his battle with Baal’s prophets. “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!” (1 Kings 19:39 NIV). Looking down to the Jezreel valley it is easy to imagine him running ahead of Ahab, by the power of God.

We followed Lord Jesus’ footsteps by travelling around the Galilee region and the Sea of Galilee, or, as the locals say, lake Kinneret. At Capernaum we saw the remains of an old synagogue, where Jesus may have been teaching. The Mount of Beatitudes is a magnificent place to remember Lord’s words, as true today as two millennia ago: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:20-23 NIV)

Mount Bental is located in the Golan Heights, at the border between Syria and Israel. We were standing only a few meters from the border. Syria’s landscape seemed as beautiful as Israel’s but we could easily hear the shocking sounds of cannons and rockets. But our Lord manifested His power and presence there also. We met four peacekeepers from Fiji Islands who had their camp on the Syria side of the border. It turned out that they were also believers! We were praying all together, hand in hand. We prayed for peace for Syria and Israel, we prayed they would get back home safe. Those brave soldiers, who were so far away from home, had tears in their eyes. I’m sure all of us could feel the unity of believers. The unity, which is given only by the Holy Spirit.

Jerusalem of Gold. What can one say about Jerusalem? There are no words to describe it well enough. You have to see it, feel it, hear it, smell and taste it yourself! You love it, or hate it. If you love the God of Israel, it is the most important city in the world. The place where our Lord gave His precious blood for us, sinners. Via Dolorosa at the Old City. Mt of Olives where He left his disciples and ascended to heaven, is the same place where He is coming back. Soon. The Garden tomb, where you can read the words: He is risen!

February is the time you can see the almond tree blossoming. It was one of my dreams to see it, but all week I could see it only from the bus window. Our last day, at the Garden Tomb, I suddenly realized I was standing under an almond tree! It was a breathtaking moment. Why was it so crucial? Let’s read the book of Jeremiah, 1:11-12: 11. The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. 12. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.

Many times we do worry about God’s word and we think that we have to assert Him and His word, otherwise things will go wrong. Like He was not that powerful and needed our help. Isn’t it comforting? He Himself is watching His word! And His word is true, it will be fulfilled absolutely. We only have to read it, believe it, and live it, every day, be obedient. And tell the gospel to others.

Lord God of Israel, thank You for watching Your word. We praise You every day. Thank You for giving Your only Son, Jeshua Ha Mashiach, for our sins. Thank You for all the blessings You have given. Please, Almighty LORD, bless Israel, give peace to Jerusalem. We pray You to be merciful to Syria, help all people there. Please, stop the war. Bless the work your followers are doing, bless and protect all of them and others who are risking their lives every day, because they love You so much. Thank you for all new believers who are thirsty for your word. Thank You for Jake, thank for the anointing and gifts You have given to him. Bless him and his work and family. Amen.

“I enter the Holy of Holies, I enter through the blood of the Lamb.

I enter to worship You only, I enter to honor I AM.

Lord I worship You, I worship You,

Lord I worship You, I worship You,

For Your name is Holy, Holy Lord

For Your name is Holy, Holy Lord”

(Paul Wilbur, For Your name is holy)

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