If you have been following my ministry for some time, you probably know how much I love Israel.
My church and ministry have been built on three key pillars in the Scriptures: the centrality of the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the importance of the church as the bride of Christ, and the significance of Israel in the Lord’s prophetic timetable, which we believe is so key to our understanding of the Scriptures.
We have brought more than 20,000 people to Israel through our tour groups over the past fifteen years. Additionally, for many years now, we have actively sown into Jewish assemblies and ministries that preach the gospel in Israel. In March 2016, in recognition of our support for Israel, I had the tremendous honor of being presented with an international relations award by the late Mr. Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel.
The Bible comes alive for me whenever I am in Israel. I’ve lost count of how many times I have visited Israel down through the years, but I look forward to every single visit with eager anticipation.
Even as I am writing this right now, I am thinking about when I can be back in Israel with my team of pastors, whom I like to call my “band of brothers.” You see, this is where I go to recharge and refuel. Whenever I return home from Israel, I feel like I need to warn my congregation because I come back so full of fresh revelations waiting to be unleashed on them! In fact, just thinking about being in Israel makes my spiritual hormones bubble. I long for Israel like how a young child might long to return to Disneyland over and over again!
How I wish I could personally bring every member of my church and everyone who follows my ministry on a guided tour of Israel. Unfortunately, I also know how practically and logistically impossible that is. This is why I’ve created this resource to circumvent the limitations of time and space and to transport you all to Israel with me as your guide.
I want to help you discover the beautiful land as if I were there with you. I want to lead you to the sites that thrill me and show you the places that have been marked by His-story. I want to bring you to where our Lord Jesus would have walked and point out where His miracles would have taken place. I want to introduce you to my favorite foods in Israel and help you savor all the sights and sounds of Israel’s vibrant culture and rich heritage.
AN ADVENTURE WITH THE LORD
I have no doubt you will enjoy learning about the locations we will be visiting, even if it’s only through the pages of this book (for some of you).
But I didn’t write this book just so I can describe to you what it would be like to visit Israel and show you pictures of the stunning land that has captured my heart.
You see, Expedition Promised Land isn’t just about exploring the land of Israel. Perhaps more importantly, the journey I want to take you on is a spiritual one. The promised land for the children of Israel was a physical land, one that had houses full of all good things they did not fill, hewn-out wells they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees they did not plant (Deut. 6:11). It was a land flowing with milk and honey, with the eyes of the Lord always on it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year (Deut. 11:9–12). Today our promised land isn’t a physical one. But as with the children of Israel, it is one where we step into the finished work of another, and for us, that is the work of our Lord Jesus at the cross. As believers, our promised land is rest (Heb. 4:1–11). We can rest in Him because He has finished the work of bringing forgiveness for every sin in our lives, making us righteous by His holy blood, and removing every barrier between sinful man and a holy God. Every need we have has been met at the cross, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Eph. 1:18)!
As you go on this journey with me, I don’t want you to simply accumulate information and facts about the sites we will visit. I want you to receive fresh revelations. Revelations of how utterly loved you are. Revelations of how much our Lord Jesus has done for you. Revelations of His beauty, His majesty, His might!
I can’t wait to tell you about my favorite locations near the Sea of Galilee where so many of Jesus’ miracles took place. But I don’t want you to just marvel at the excavated remains of the first-century synagogue that were uncovered in Capernaum or be excited that you could possibly be looking at the ruins of a home that once belonged to the apostle Peter. I also want to take you on a spiritual expedition to encounter our Lord Jesus in a new and powerful way.
For example, I’m looking forward to showing you the ancient boat that was found buried in the Sea of Galilee. It thrills me that we can actually see a boat that had been used during the time of Jesus. But while it is interesting to learn details such as what type of wood it was constructed of, that information is unlikely to change your life much. What will make a difference in your life is knowing that the same Jesus who controlled the wind and waves can still calm the storms you face today.
Maybe you have been struggling with unseen storms you hide so well even your colleagues who see you every day don’t know what you are dealing with. Waves of anxiety attacks, addictions, fears, and depression may have threatened to drown you time and again, and sometimes you wonder, Will I ever be free?
The Gospels record how our Lord Jesus responded when “a great tempest arose on the sea” (Matt. 8:24).
The storm did not affect Jesus at all, even when the waves beat into the boat, filling it (Mark 4:37).
Do you know what affected and woke Jesus? It was the cry of His disciples: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).
Sometimes it might feel as though the Lord does not care about what you are going through. But I want you to know He loves you so much, and He is right there with you in the midst of your storm. You do not need to fear, no matter how violent the waves may seem. You don’t need to pray grand-sounding prayers or have all the right words for Him to respond. Your very cry affects your Savior and moves Him to use His power on your behalf.
The Bible records how Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And just like that, “the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).
Don’t you love how the Bible is so careful to record that it wasn’t just a calm but a great calm?
Whatever tempest you might be facing right now, you are not alone. And in His presence, even mighty storms must bow.
I am praying with you, my friend, that as you take time out from everything you are dealing with to go on this expedition with me, you will experience the tangible presence of the Prince of Peace, who declares to your tempest, “Peace, be still!”
A LIVING SAVIOR IN AN ANCIENT LAND
While we will be exploring an ancient land, my prayer is that this book will unveil to you a living Savior who is your very present help (Ps. 46:1). He is risen, and He is—right now—seated at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). This means that whatever He did for the people in the Gospels, He can do for you too.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard testimonies of people who had gone to Israel with our church while battling a challenge in their marriages or facing a crisis in their businesses. And while they were in Israel, not focusing on solving their problems but simply enjoying their time with the Lord, they experienced breakthroughs for their marriages or unexpected turnarounds for their businesses. While in Israel, I have also received good news for our church back home on so many occasions that sometimes I think I should just go to Israel even more often!
But that’s not all. I sense a fresh anointing to preach each time I return home from Israel, and I believe that likewise, you will return from this spiritual expedition with a new anointing for your marriage, your job, your ministry, and your parenting.
We’ve also received testimonies from people who had received their healing miracles while they were in Israel. Our Lord Jesus is alive, and He continues to save, deliver, and heal. So I want to believe with you for your healing breakthrough even as you meditate on the truths in this resource. Our Lord can heal you right where you are today.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will unveil in every location truths about our Lord Jesus that will cause you to fall more in love with Him. So many of our people have experienced His love for them tangibly while touring Israel, and He has given them special memories that I know will cause
them to look back in awe at their time in Israel in the years to come.
I love that some of our married couples decided to renew their vows to each other while at the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter in Tabgha. We have received precious reports of family members who went along to Israel just for a holiday but learned so much about our Lord Jesus’ goodness and loving-kindness that they decided to receive Him as their Savior. I’ve also had the blessing of personally leading several of our Israeli guides and security personnel to Jesus and will share more about their testimonies later in this book.
A TRANSFORMATIONAL JOURNEY
Why did I share all that with you? Because I want you to see that our trip to Israel is going to be exciting. More so, I want you to expect it to be transformational.
The Bible tells us that we are transformed from glory to glory by beholding the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). I want your life to never be the same again, and that only happens by the Spirit of the Lord when we behold His glory.
Whatever need you may have in your life right now, whether you are at a crossroads in your life and searching for meaning, purpose, and direction, or trusting the Lord for financial provision, restoration for a fractured relationship, or healing in your body or soul, I pray that the Lord will answer your prayers and show you His way of shalom-peace in every situation. So besides your Bible, please have a journal on hand and come prepared to hear from Him.
If you are feeling broken as you begin reading this book, may you finish your journey knowing the Lord is your strength and your shield. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the responsibilities pressing down on you, may you close this book filled with the revelation that His supply of wisdom, peace, and favor is greater than any demand you face.
WHO THIS BOOK IS FOR
This book is for everyone, whether you are planning a trip to Israel, on-site in Israel today, or have no interest in physically visiting Israel.
Please allow me to elaborate. If you are planning to visit Israel, this book will help you to learn more about some of the sites you might be visiting and also help you to reflect on truths that will minister to you. I am so glad you will get to visit Israel, and I pray this book will help you to experience Israel the way I have been experiencing it. May the Lord speak to you so intimately and personally in every location and cause the Scriptures to come alive for you.
Maybe you have been to Israel before, but there was so much to see that every day passed by in a blur. Now you know why so many people have returned to Israel time and again. I hope this book will remind you of the places you got to visit and help you fully appreciate their significance. And since you are “revisiting” Israel with me, why don’t you pull out the journal you kept during your last trip? You may find the Lord speaking to you afresh from the notes you have scribbled down. Some things that may not have made sense to you back then could speak directly to your situation today. After all, He is the Lord of time and space.
This book is also for you if you wish you had the chance to visit Israel, but perhaps right now, it seems like an impossibility. I’m believing with you that whatever challenges you might be facing, be it finances, time, or even a medical condition, the Lord will supernaturally make a way for you at the right time even if there seems to be no way. In the meantime, please allow me to be your guide to Israel as you journey with me through the pages of this book. I know nothing can replace actually being there, but I want to invite you to immerse yourself in this expedition with me.
If you have never considered going to Israel before, my prayer is that this book will spark in you a supernatural love for Israel and a desire to see the land for yourself. I believe you will walk away with a greater appreciation of why the Lord calls Israel His “own special treasure” (Ps. 135:4 NLT).
This book is also for those of you who have friends who have asked you why Israel and her people are so precious to the Lord. If you don’t know where to begin, perhaps this book might help you.
This book is not meant to be an encyclopedia about Israel or an in-depth study of the biblical references or historical backgrounds of each location. Neither is this a detailed travel guide, so please do not rely on this for advisories on practical considerations such as the opening hours of the various locations or directions for your travel. If that’s what you are looking for, there are many other books and websites that would do a far better job.
This is essentially a spiritual resource to guide you to experience the most important thing about visiting Israel—an intimate and personal journey with our Lord Jesus as we walk where He walked. We’ll be on this adventure of walking with Him through these pages for the next ten days.
Whatever your reason for picking up this book, I pray it will be a blessing to you as we begin Expedition Promised Land!