Students at The King’s University (TKU) often ask me how to prepare for a trip to Israel. My answer is short and sweet: start walking. In fact, the StairMaster might be a better recommendation! TKU’s annual Biblical Geography of Israel Study Trip, which I help coordinate, is extremely physical, and our typical routine in the United States isn’t sufficient preparation for trekking up ancient city hills and exploring the historic cobblestone streets of the Old City.
This trip isn’t just physical—it’s spiritual as well. Taking literal steps are a simple yet vital preparation, but it’s also important to “walk the syllabus” and get familiar with the places where the stories and scenes from Scripture actually took place. As we travel throughout this beautiful and diverse country, students are able to see the narrative of the Bible in a new way.
Dr. Wayne Wilks, who studied Biblical Geography at University of the Holy Land, and is Executive Pastor of Jewish Ministries at Gateway Church, delights to share the sights and sounds of Israel with students of God’s Word. Dr. Wilks says that “archeology tells the story of history” which gives life to tradition and expands our faith in Yeshua.
John Wright, a graduate student in the Messianic Jewish Studies program at TKU shared these thoughts: “Rehearsing biblical history at the historical sites brings to life the ancient rock and stone.” On the TKU Israel study trip, we “explore the significance of various regions within the land and how they played into the geopolitics of Biblical history”.
Imagine trekking up and stepping into the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved for almost 2,000 years. Many of those scrolls contain biblical texts, including every book of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) except the book of Esther. It’s easy to envision the scribes who placed the sacred texts in clay jars, possibly to hide them as the Roman army advanced against the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66–70).
“Our professor poured into us his wealth of wisdom about the land and biblical events that took place in the areas we visited. As we explored the sites, I was captivated by how intentional and detail oriented God is in bringing His message across to His beloved people,” recounts Diane Gonzalez, one of 24 students from the study trip last May.
We explored the Valley of Elah, the famous setting of the Philistine/Israelite faceoff. As we picked up our own flat stones, we could visualize the scene where the Lord used young David to defeat the towering Goliath; a beautiful reminder that where we place our confidence is crucial. Goliath boasted in his own strength whereas David believed the God of Angel Armies had already gone before him in battle.
For Michael Washburn, one lasting impact was “walking down the streets of Jerusalem and seeing people living their everyday life … it was such a mix of people who were all living in harmony in a city with thousands of years of history.”
We encountered people from every corner of the earth living in and visiting Israel. We experienced the cuisines of the Middle East, including fresh dates, Bedouin tea and of course, hummus. TKU is thrilled to offer a study trip in the land of Israel, where so much historical and spiritual heritage originated. Another Biblical Geography of Israel Study Trip will be offered in May 2021, and if I were you, I’d start walking.