Elisa and I are now in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. It's very very hot (everybody warned us!) and there is a haze over the lake most of the time, from all the evaporation I suppose. It's also shabbat and we are about to go off for a sabbath meal provided by our hotel at outrageous extra cost because we are are to expect that everything will be closed down.
We just had a very interesting time up on the hills close to the lake. They have unearthed the village of Chorazin including the synagogue and some houses. It's mentioned in the Gospels as a place Jesus knew and did mighty works in:
Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you Bethsaida! If the same might works that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago... (Matthew 11:21)
As we looked around at the devastated rocks that made up the deserted village, it made us feel, "Lord, don't let us become like that! We want to have soft hearts and listening minds towards you!" On the other hand those words come just before Jesus' words of comfort to those who do come to him with a good heart:
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest... You will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28)
Matthew has delberately put these words of the Lord together so that after the pain that comes from hardening our heart to the Lord comes the reassurance of comfort when we are responsive to Him. How wonderful it was to be in the same places Jesus was in, to see the same hills and lake, to walk on soil that He Himself trod! So we were reminded also of the wordds of the angel after the resurrection:
You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here!... He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him, just as He promised. (Mark 16:6-7)
Yes, it felt very special to be in Galilee and read that promise. But of course it means we can see Him by faith anywhere, not just in Galilee, because He is alive. Thank you for all your prayers that we will encounter His presence more deeply while we are here, I think they're working!
Just one other Bible verse. There are turtle doves everywhere, even in the big cities like Tel Aviv. It's a sad reflection that these days they have become all but extinct in the UK. Up on that hillside we could hear their cooing all round us, a sort of churr-churr. In the Song of songs it's a sound used symbolically for the the Lord's call to love Him and respond to His love (that's if you go in for symbolic readings - it's definitely a love poem as well). It's Song of songs 2:12-14. Elisa and I prayed that God would renew and restore our first love for Him too.
I'll just close with a local Jewish joke, having now swum in the waters that Jesus and his disciples knew so well:
Why did Jesus walk on the water? Because the boats here are so expensive!
God bless you all and thank you for praying!
Lots of love, Colin and Elisa.