There are times working at a summer camp where it seems like everything is happening at once. That a million things need my attention. So you focus on what is right in front of you an go and go and go until it is 11:30 and you have run out of Cheez-Its (which is the fuel that leadership staff runs on). It is at then end of days like that when Michael or Emma would ask me how I am doing and the only response is; “I have seen some things”.
That is also the best way to describe how I am feeling right now.
“I have seen some things”
Part of that is because over the last week I have seen plenty of amazing things. The lowest point on Earth and snow covered mountains. More thousand year old ruins than I can keep track of (there is so much history that we just end up sitting on it a lot of times). I have also been able to look at the same sea and the same mountains that Jesus would have looked at.
At a deeper level am also feeling like I have seen some things. That we have been going and going and going and I don’t have Debbie to provide me with the necessary Cheez-Its. At times it feels like I have been trying to processes so much that I don’t have any more room (or energy for that matter) to fit in anything else (In all fairness it isn’t a big space).
So that brings me to a prayer request. For myself and the rest of the Heartland crew. As we are about to study in and around Jerusalem for the next three days that we be filled with energy and curiosity, that we can be present in the moment, and that we are attentive to God’s voice through this place.
Anyway, I have been talking about the things we have seen. So here are some highlights of the last couple days. We made the journey to Caesarea Phillipi in the far north of Israel and got to see the spot where Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah (Matt 16:13-20). This city was in the midst of a dense forest with a beautiful river, not the desert you may think of when you think of Israel. We also went to Qatzrin, which is a recreated Biblical village where we got to dress the part of 1st century farmers and make pita over the fire. Beth Shean is the last site I will tell you about and it was a very large city in the Decapolis. If you are having a hard time placing it, the city was also named Scythopolis (which I am sure is a huge help). This city was Roman, therefore pagan, and absolutely magnificent. It would have been full of trade, expensive decorations, and the most up to date luxuries. It would have been a very stark contrast to the places Jesus was ministering to just a couple days walk away.
I would love to talk more about all the different things I have learn at these places and others, but it is late and a 5:30 wake up call has my name all over it. So, instead, I will leave you with a quote from out tour guide Dan.
“The more you dig, the more the Bible is true”
He says that because time and again at site after site he mentions a piece of archeology done there that matches up perfectly with the Biblical record. One example of this was found in Capernaum. Here we know that Jesus called the disciples James and John, sons of Zebedee. Capernaum reconstructed their synagogue in the 3rd century. In doing this, much like today, people donated money and time to help it get built and in exchange had their name inscribed on the building.
What is amazing is that on one of the pillars they found in Capernaum they found an inscription mentioning the donation of the Zebedee family! That we know independent of the Bible that a family named Zebedee was living in the town of Capernaum less than 200 years after James and John. This is was not a common name and helps validate the gospel account.
What has been fun for me is that with each piece of archelogy that fits in with the Biblical story the Bible gets more and more real. Which is awesome, because in the end, if this story is true. If Jesus did live a real life in Capernaum with friends named James and John. If he did die a real death and raise again, then nothing else matters. EVERYTHING changes in light of this.
The more we dig, the more the Bible is true, and that makes all the difference.
Written By: Jared Briscoe