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I Remember Israel

I shall never forget the first time I saw Israel!
There I was, newly married and already
traveling to the land I had learned to love as a
little girl in Sunday school.

Israel wasn’t modern then. I remember
thinking that the land looked just as it must
have in ancient times. Yet, it seemed to me to
be almost a bridge… between the past and
the future.

Surely, Israel is the most exciting nation in
the world. Its very existence seems to
culminate all Bible prophecy. My husband has
often remarked that Israel is the key to all
Bible prophecy.

I Remember My

First Impression of Israel!

Wandering through the narrow streets of
Jerusalem during my first visit, everything I
saw and experienced seemed so far removed
from modern times! In fact, some of the shops
I entered seemed to be just as they were 2,000
years ago.

My first impression of Israel, however, was
not just of a land rich in ancient history, but a
land that had been stripped and starved.

Not too many years prior to my first
pilgrimage, Jews from all points of the globe
had begun to flood back into their homeland,
fulfilling ancient prophecies with their arrival.
As a people, the Jews had been persecuted,
beaten, and deprived. Many were survivors of
Hitler’s horrible death camps, having lost their
entire families as well as all earthly possessions
to the atrocities of Nazism during World War II.

Thousands of Jewish refugees arrived in
Israel with literally nothing more than the
clothes on their backs… and a fierce
determination to make their Israel bloom!

I Remember the Diversity of Israel!

When Jack and I returned to Israel a few
years later, I was truly amazed! Israel had
undergone an almost unbelievable
transformation! I could see the fulfillment of
Isaiah 35:1… the desert shall rejoice, and
blossom as the rose.

The Jews, with their innovative genius, had
installed irrigation systems throughout their
entire land… instantly transforming arid
deserts into fruitful, productive orchards and
gardens. And the desolate land shall be tilled,
whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that
passed by. And they shall say, This land that was
desolate is become like the garden of Eden

(Ezekiel 36:34, 35). I witnessed this!

Construction in the cities had also begun
to move forward, and amid the treasured
antiquities were now high-rise buildings with
every modern convenience.

Throughout the land, I was struck with the
diversity I saw everywhere! It was not unusual
to see a man leading a little donkey loaded
down with burdens alongside a busy street
teeming with trucks and cars. Nor was it
unusual to see a supersonic jet roar over the
head of an Arab riding a camel.

I discovered that in this incredibly diverse
20th century Israel, I could:

  • Visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls
    were discovered… or tour the Department
    of Nuclear Physics at the Weizman
    Institute.
  • Experience the coolness of the mountains
    and pastures of Galilee… and the parched
    deserts of the southern region near the
    Dead Sea.
  • Learn about the rich heritage of the Jewish
    culture… discover more about the Arabs
    and their predominant religion, Islam…
    and also worship Jesus with other
    Christians.

I Remember the Sights of Israel!

Today, as I reminisce about Israel, I can still
see the fishermen casting their nets into the
Sea of Galilee… the shepherds caring for
their flocks in the fields… the barren desert
where Jesus endured the devil’s temptations…

I can envision modern Jerusalem, with the
ancient wonders of old Jerusalem entwined
within it… the Jews praying at their Wailing
Wall… the tomb of Lazarus… the field of
Boaz, where Ruth and Naomi gleaned wheat
and where the shepherds later received the
angel’s message of the Messiah’s birth…

I remember the Garden of Gethsemane,
where Jesus’ sweat was as drops of blood…
and Golgotha, where He suffered the shame
and the agony of the sum of mankind’s sins.

Of all the places we visited, I can say that
the Garden of the Resurrection, where our
Lord first revealed himself as risen from the
dead, was the most profound place for me! In
fact, I was moved to tears as I sat quietly, just
praying.

I recall the awesomeness of the Valley of
Megiddo, or Jezreel, where the battle of all
battles — ARMAGEDDON — will take
place. It’s such a vast, open area, and a place of
such prophetic destiny.

As we winded our way through the teeming
streets of Tel Aviv, I could not help but realize:
“This land means EVERYTHING to the Jews!”

For them, Israel is their home, their life,
their honor, and their purpose. Apart from
Israel, the Jew believes he hardly has an
existence.

I Remember the People!

I have many fond memories of the Jewish people!

My husband and I taped many television
specials and programs there. Many people
opened their hearts and homes to us! They
knew we were Christians, but they could also
sense that we loved THEM! Jack and I were
even welcomed to tape inside the Jewish
Knessett building! The members I
interviewed were so very kind and gracious!

I remember the openness of Israel’s
President Yitzhak Navon. He was such a
magnetic personality, and will always live in
my memory as one of the most genuine, kind
men I have ever met. He knew his Old
Testament thoroughly and easily conversed
with Jack about Bible prophecies. We were
invited to his private residence, where he and
Jack discussed the Bible, end-time events, and
the role of Israel in the last days.

On another occasion, we were invited to
dinner at the home of the late Prime Minister
Menachem Begin. The dinner, however, was
canceled suddenly — due to the assassination
of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat! Prime
Minister Begin had to leave immediately for
Tel Aviv and an emergency meeting of his
cabinet — so I did not get to interview him
after dinner, as planned.

I was fortunate to interview Abba Eban,
former Israeli Ambassador to the United
Nations who was often called “the Voice of
Israel.” And I met and interviewed Moshe
Arens, who then was Israel’s Ambassador to
the United States.

I also remember the beautiful, innocent
children. On one of my videos, I taped songs
with a group of them. They sat on my lap, we
talked, we laughed and played together. When
I think of the war that has gone on constantly
there, and when I think of what the Jews as a
people have gone through, it tears at my heart.

The Jews of Israel are only a heartbeat away
from disaster!

I have a very dear friend — Estee Levine —
with whom I have corresponded regularly for
many years. Her residence is in Jerusalem, and
she is responsible for preparing the
accommodations for thousands of tourists
who visit Israel each year.

During the Desert Storm operation, Israel
was frequently under attack by Saddam
Hussein’s air raids. During those war-torn
months, Estee wrote me about the birth of her
granddaughter. She wrote: “We had a time of
great rejoicing! And we could rejoice — even
in the midst of rocket attacks!”

I’ve always found that kind of optimism
among the Israelis — even among the
children. They have such a valiant attitude of spirit!

It’s as if God has instilled His own
optimism into His people, because they are
ultimately going to win. Micah 4:3 says, And
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and
their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not
lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any more.
That day of peace is coming!

I Remember Jesus!

Seeing the places where He walked,
recalling the events of His life, even receiving
communion in the place of His Resurrection
made me feel so much closer to Jesus!

Time and again, Jack and I found ourselves
retracing the steps of Jesus and the disciples.
There was Capernaum, where we explored
fascinating ruins and again traced the steps of
Jesus, who taught the multitudes there. I
almost expected to see the throngs described in
the Bible, pressing closer and closer in, to hear
the words of life! When we walked along the
Via Dolorosa, we could not help but painfully
recall Christ’s final steps before Calvary.

We served communion to those of our tour
group in that quiet garden, and I was
emotionally stirred by the experience! I shall
never forget that from where I was sitting, I
could look up… to see Golgotha, the place of
the skull, where His crucifixion took place…
and I could also look down… at the stone
which had been rolled away from the tomb
that could not hold Him. What a powerful
contrast!

Experiencing Israel in all her diversity and
splendor has added more depth and
dimension to my faith, and has given me
many wonderful memories.

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