How do you decide you’re going to visit the Holy Land, whether it’s your first time or a return trip? Do you pray about it? Of course you do. And with all that’s going on in our world today, you might wonder, is it really safe? Of course it is! Pilgrims and tourists are a major source of income for the Israeli economy, benefitting both Arabs and Jews, so a safe and pleasant experience for travelers is both a national and regional priority.
My first visit to Israel occurred more than 33 years ago, about a year and a half after I became a Christian. Since I wasn’t raised in a religious family, I had never really studied the Bible, so as I began reading with fascination the long story of God’s self-revelation among the Israelites, His choosing of both the land of Canaan and specifically Jerusalem, I knew I wanted to go see those places! I was single and I had the money and the time to do it. Travelling with a good friend, we went, consulting only our Bibles and a couple of travel books. It was late 1981. For some, this would be unthinkable, but for me it was the adventure of a lifetime and somehow I knew it. What I didn’t know was how it was going to change my life. We’re talking 57 days exploring the land from the farthest northern border with Lebanon, down to the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea—since at that time, Israel still had possession of the eastern portion of Sinai.
Using the Israeli national bus line, we went up and down the whole country a couple of times, usually staying in youth hostels and even some desert camping, but we always returned to Jerusalem—the City of the Great King. We lived in and explored Jerusalem off and on for about five weeks. I am not exaggerating when I say we went everywhere and saw everything as pilgrims seldom do. I was privileged to spend several entire days exploring the Temple Mount. We visited museums, churches and synagogues, exhibits, attended lectures, walking inside and around the walls of the Old City, up onto the Mount of Olives and best of all, we had time to linger in all of these places. We shopped the colorful markets, met the locals and really took our time. Bibles in hand, we studied and discussed prophecy, and all the things we were experiencing, with time for prayer and reflection. Like I said, it changed my life!
During a recent trip back, I was on a Christian tour with my Pastor and his wife and found myself comparing our 10-day “cookie-cutter” itinerary with my 1981 visit and I realized a few things, including what it is people want and really don’t want in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There’s really no comparison between my 57 days and 10 days, but I now know that visitors today are really hungry for biblical insight and spiritual depth. Increasingly, they are seeking to avoid old traditional church buildings, cluttered pilgrim sites, and tourist traps in exchange for truly seeing the land from a biblical and Hebraic perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. There is much history in the traditional church monuments, but why would anyone pay to fly all that way only to waste hours visiting the interiors of church buildings that resemble the ones here at home? Obviously most people can’t go to Israel for 2 months at a time, but it seemed to me that something could be done to design a biblical itinerary addressing these felt needs.
The Lord is doing a new work in our day. As the times and seasons progress, He is clearly revealing the essence of His long-term prophetic vision for the whole world, including the people and land of Israel, and the richness and symbolism nested within the Torah and the biblical Feasts. Since we are disciples of Jesus and grafted-in, God’s vision of Redemption includes us, and trust me when I say that going to Israel feels like coming home!
That’s why I created the Scholar’s Insider Tour in partnership with my good friend, Aaron Lipkin, CEO of Lipkin Tours Ltd. based in Ofra, Israel. He is Avi Lipkin’s eldest son! We have invited special guests Gary Stearman and Avi Lipkin along for the journey. Aaron and I have planned eight unforgettable days of travel and learning with his capable, English-speaking team to handle all the details. Of course, I’m going too!
We will see the land from the foot of Mount Hermon, south through Galilee, into Samaria, south to Jerusalem and Hebron, along the Dead Sea to Masada. Our carefully designed itinerary will take all of us to sites relevant to biblical history and archaeology, as we discuss, in context, the scriptural and prophetic fulfillments visible today. If you’ve never been to Israel—or if it’s time to go back—THIS is the trip and THIS is your opportunity to see the land as most visitors seldom do! Slots are filling fast, so sign up soon!
Tour Dates: March 15-25, 2015
Israel Land Package ONLY = $2000 per person
Depart from New York = $3,495 per person
Depart from Chicago = $3,595 per person
Depart from L.A. = $3,695 per person
Trip Highlights: Gamla, Mt. Bental, Nimrod Crusader Fortress, Caesarea Philippi, Bethsaida, sunrise on Mt. Arbel, Jesus Boat Exhibit, boat ride on Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tel Megiddo, Mt. Ebal and Joshua’s Altar, Mt. Kabir, ancient Shiloh, Mt. Scopus, Qumran and Dead Sea Scroll caves, Masada, Dead Sea shore, Shabbat with Avi Lipkin, Israel Museum, Shrine of the Book, 2nd Temple Jerusalem model, Herodian National Park, Hebron, Machpelah Cave of the Patriarchs, Temple Mount and Kotel, Temple Institute, Davidson Center, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Government Hill, Kidron valley, Mt. of Olives, Rampart walk, Mt. Zion Gallicantu Model, Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb, markets and shopping in both the Old City and modern Jerusalem! Sign up here: www.LipkinTours.com.
Follow us: Facebook.com/ScholarsInsiderTour (Note: Trip is 10.5 calendar days due to international flight times – 8 full touring days in Israel – the Scholar’s Insider Tour is not a product of Prophecy in the News – itinerary is subject to change.)
Daniel M. Wright has been a lay student of the Bible and the Holy Land for more than 30 years. He works as our graphic artist designing the Prophecy in the News magazine each month. Bob Ulrich introduced him to our late founder, J.R. Church, just before he went home to be with the Lord. Due to his illness, J. R. invited Daniel to consider crafting the ministry’s monthly magazine. Daniel accepted the assignment, and together with Gary and Bob, he’s been creating it each month since early 2011. He lives and works with his wife of 32 years in rural South Carolina. You can email him about the tour at: email@example.com.