Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Heart of God

Our last day of this year's Josiah Venture Old Testament study tour is here.

We took our tour bus out to the Herodion, a fortress and palace on the highest hill in the Judean desert, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Built in the years 23-20 BC by Herod, it includes a fortress on the upper city and a palace and gardens in the lower city.

From this spot, Dave did his last teaching on Christocentric Leadership.

He spoke about how as leaders we should: talk about Jesus and the Gospel over and over, let Christ shine through our weaknesses, demonstrate the Spirit and Christ's power, and teach His counter-cultural wisdom.

At some time all these talks will be uploaded so you could listen if you were interested!

We also did our walk-through, the completed version of it that we've been working on all week to cement in our minds the timeline of the Old Testament. Our tour guide recorded it for us!

After finishing we did a literal walk-through of the Herodion tunnels, popping out at the bottom of the palace.

The view walking down allowed us to see out to Tekoa, where the prophet Amos was from, as well as Bethlehem which is just behind us.

Back in the bus for a short drive to Bethlehem, I loved seeing these two sitting together, which they've done several times throughout the trip!

As we drove into Bethlehem, we saw a sight that is still common today, as it was back at the time of Jesus' birth...a shepherd keeping watch over their flock!

On the main street into town we encountered another flock being cared for, this time of goats.

As we watched the shepherd on his donkey from the window of our bus, our tour guide shared something that I had never heard before.

Usually the sheep, or goats, are not all his!

This is basically "goat daycare" and he's the caretaker of them for the day. At day's end he'll return those that aren't his to their owners, and go home for a night's sleep before getting up and going out to collect them all again for the next day of daycare! Fascinating little tidbit of shepherd life in Israel.

We headed down to the Shepherd's Fields chapel, a Catholic church that marks the place where, according to tradition, the angels first announced the birth of Jesus.

Built to resemble a nomadic shepherd's tent, there are beautiful paintings inside depicting scenes from the story of Christ's birth. After having just driven by shepherd's and their sheep, this one captured my heart, imagining this very moment when they received the angel's news!

And then, here they are again, having found Joseph, Mary and Jesus!

Ron, our tour guide, told us that each Christmas Eve, they light the inside of the chapel in such a way that light streams out from these tiny windows, and lights the sky as a reminder of that holy night when our Savior was born!

From here we walked down to our last teaching spot on this Old Testament tour, which is ending with Tyler teaching on how to read the Gospels of the NT, through an OT lens.

He led us to Matthew 26 where the High Priest says to Jesus, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

"You have said so," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was referencing here? If you go to Daniel 7:13, you'll see something amazing!

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Tyler then unfolded for us an absolutely stunning walk-through of the Old Testament that points to Jesus our Savior, beginning in Genesis all the way through his birth, death and resurrection, and to the Great Commission he left us with -- a great commission foreshadowed in Genesis and Daniel -- then given by Jesus in Matthew before he ascended to the Father.

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Tyler ended with this: "When we dig down deep, we see the purpose of it all: God's heart for his people! Put your roots down deep and draw out God's truth; then direct it forward, in His Name, for the glory of God, and the spreading of His Kingdom!"

And this is what we are all about! Our Josiah Venture team in 15 countries longs to know more and more of God's heart, and share it with others, so that they too know his heart and then God's Kingdom grows.

We pray that this study tour through Israel, looking at our roots in the Old Testament, will deepen our walks with God as we comprehend his love, his plan, and his heart for each of us!

No comments:

Post a Comment