First Time Visit to Israel – Driving to Mt Carmel

First Time Visit to Israel – Driving to Mt Carmel

I (Enoch), my Mum and our 83 year old friend Anne travelled to Israel for 12 days from 31st of December until the 12th of January 2015. It was our first trip to Israel, and we were going on our own and not on a tour. I had done lots of homework beforehand about places to stay and how to get around, but we still had plenty to learn.

On the 3rd of Jan, we visited a church near Mt. Carmel.  Before we left, we were asked the question about why Jezebel did not join the prophets of Baal at the contest with Elijah at Mt Carmel. Having been there myself, I now understand a very practical reason why not – it is super steep terrain. I thought driving up Mt. Dandenong in Melbourne was bad, but the road to Mt. Carmel was exceedingly steep with almost 360 degree sharp hairpin turns in the road. No wonder Jezebel decided to stay home!

At the beginning of this road was a sign warning us to look out for falling rocks. We were instantly reminded of a picture Faith from our home church ECCC had for us before we left. She saw rocks falling all around us, but in her picture we were not the least concerned. As we drove up the mountain, we were not really comforted by that word – as we did not want any rocks to start falling down anywhere near us, thank you! Thankfully, no rocks fell and we were safe.

A few weeks before we left for Israel, Melissa from our church saw a picture of a weary looking man with high cheek bones when praying for our time in Israel. Mum reminded me of this when we saw a weary looking Christian leader sitting during worship and I could feel a wave of intercession come on me for him. I met him briefly in the bathroom and briefly told him that we are praying for him for strength and he was appreciative.

Afterwards, Melissa gave us more details of what she saw – and it was amazingly accurate. She described the tiles of the floor (which are creamy white) and I showed her a photo that matched her description. She was excited to see this confirmation, but cautioned that she saw the walls in the same tile – which of course is the case at this building! When she saw him in the vision, she knew he was a leader – and she described his manner of speech perfectly by saying it was a bit halting.

We were later able to send a message to the Pastor about this via email and they were greatly encouraged to hear that God is raising up intercessors for them who do not even know their ministry. It was encouraging to see how God was raising up prayer for a needy pastor from a prayer group at the other end of the earth – and used us as messengers to bring the encouragement to this pastor.

When going through difficult times, my Mum often prays – ‘God raise up intercessors for me/us’. God faithfully answers those prayers and raises up others to stand with us in times of need. May we too be the kind of intercessors who will hear the call to pray and will stand with others in their time of need.

Surprises at the Water Fall – Discovering Caesaria Phillippi

Surprises at the Water Fall – Discovering Caesaria Phillippi

We had been told that we should visit the Banias waterfalls in Northern Israel, and decided to go just for the sake of it. We were unaware of any biblical significance to the site, but we were in for a surprise as we found out that this was the Biblical Site of Caesaria Phillippi.

I had imagined that this site was closer to Galilee – but it was at least 40 minutes drive over at times quite hilly terrain – it would have been quite a hike for Jesus and the disciples!
The Banias waterfalls is part of the spring from which the Jordan river flows. The spring begins in a nearby cave, and became a site of established idol worship from the 4th Century BC onwards. Pagan temples dominated the area from the times of the Greeks onwards.

It was here, at this very site that Jesus asked Peter ‘Who do you say that I Am?’ And it was here, in this place of religious confusion and the worship of other gods, that Peter had his famous revelation of the identity and nature of the Messiah saying ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’ (Matt. 16:16)

It was interesting in that context that we came into conversation with a worker at this tourist site who also was confused about God. He asserted that God was not here, but thought God might have moved to Australia! After all, the Middle East seemed ‘God forsaken’ while Australia is such a blessed country! We had the chance to point him to the Lord as His only Shepherd and we pray that he too will have a revelation in this very place of the true identity of the Messiah and the fact that God has not abandoned the country of Israel despite its current troubles.

Returning to Peter’s famous conversation with Jesus at this site, it is interesting to consider Jesus’ reply to Peter. Jesus pointed out that the revelation Peter had received was from none other than God, and went on to talk about the building of His Church saying that  ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against my church’. With the rise of Christianity, this old site of idol worship became a stronghold of Christianity and the idols were forsaken – just as Jesus had foretold the gates of hell could not withstand the revelation of the gospel in Caesaria Phillippi. Our God is greater! All that is left of the heathen temples in this area today is crumbled and forsaken ruins.

Today God is still revealing Himself to people – and often in the most unlikely of places. And as people have a revelation of who Jesus truly is, the false idols and temples in their lives crumble as He is enthroned on their hearts. We look forward to the day when every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Rom. 14:11).

Visiting the Freezing Old City

Visiting the Freezing Old City

We visited the Old City of Jerusalem on the 8th of January 2015 and had a good time despite freezing conditions and steady rain. We did a walk on the city walls, and were the only tourists to brave the conditions! We thought we would take the opportunity to pray and worship on the Walls of the City – but found it consistently hard to praise the Lord in that location. I later described this experience to a local believer, and she confirmed that they often sense an ‘oppression’ of the enemy in their services in Jerusalem and battle it through praise and worship.

We descended from the City Walls next to the Western Wall, and here we found a markedly different atmosphere. Mum was rejoicing and practically dancing at the Western Wall (to bemused glances from the locals).
From the Western Wall, we rushed to join our booked tour of the ‘Western Wall Tunnels’. This was a very interesting and enriching experience – with excellent explanations by the guide using 3d maps and models to explain how successive layers of the city had been built upon each other thus developing a 17 meter deep archaeological underground puzzle which is still being excavated and pieced together.

We finished the tour of the tunnels at about 7pm and by then it was dark and most shops were closed. We could have exited the Old City at the nearby Damascus Gate, but we were feeling uneasy about some murky characters hanging around and decided instead to exit via the Jaffa gate further away from the Muslim area. We decided to get out as quickly as we could.
When we exited we noticed a number of police and emergency cars gathering nearby. We thought nothing more of it, until we watched the news that night and discovered that a 15 year old Palestinian had stabbed a young orthodox man with a screwdriver at about 7pm at the Damascus gate! This was the reason we saw all the police and if we had taken the wrong turn earlier we would have been there at that exact time! Praise the Lord for protection, and also that the Jewish man is recovering well after the attack and after surgery.

Snow is very rare in Jerusalem, but fell on the day before and the day after our visit to the Old City. We were alerted to this interesting scripture in Job 38:22-23 as it relates to snow in Jerusalem. It is interesting that it snowed last year before the Gaza war and is snowing again now.
Here is the verse:

Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the armory of the hail, which I reserve for the time of trouble, for the day of war and battle?

We have come to Israel for the purpose of praying for the nation – and this prophetic warning of war and trouble gave a renewed sense of purpose to our prayers and our visit.