We made it! Around 3pm local time (8am back home in Virginia), our flight arrived at Ben Guiron Airport in Tel Aviv. Wheels on the tarmac are a wonderfully welcome sound after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight, strict German airport security and often bizarre airplane food! Despite our travel-weariness, we were all very thankful that God has brought us safely this far from home, and ready to begin to experience what He has in store for us this week.
After going through passport control and claiming our baggage, we met up with our guide, Yuval Shemesh. Yuval has been our tour guide for the past two Israel trips, and we are very excited that he was able to come along with us for a third time. We head out to the bus and begin our Israel tour with a quick stop to Joppa, the sea-side city that Jonah departed from as he tried to avoid Godâ€™s call to Ninevah.
Although a small city, Joppa has had many important occurrences. Here is the place where Peter raised Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) from the dead and where he also had his vision of the white sheet â€“ the vision that God sent to tell him that it was acceptable to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. As we walk through a small artistâ€™s colony, Yuval reminds us that these structures that we are able to see today are mostly from the 18thÂ and 19thÂ centuries â€“ not much of the original town had survived. Some excavated ruins, however, are visible as we walk through a small garden area.
Pastor Mark Becton had this to say:
Our first stop in Israel was actually â€śthe first startâ€ť for the nations.Â We stopped in Joppa.Â In Joppa, God prepared Peter to share the gospel with Cornelius inÂ Acts 10. Â Until then, the gospel was shared only in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.Â Â When Cornelius and his household surrendered to Christ, you have the start of the gospel going to the nations.
This week we will hear guides speaking languages from all over the world.Â Our guide, a messianic Jew, reminded us that as gentiles we would not be standing in Joppa today had Peter not obeyed God, and helped Cornelius surrender to Christ.Â Moved by the experience, Iâ€™m not only grateful that Peter went to someone who wasnâ€™t like him, but Iâ€™m now more convicted to do the same and take Christ to the nations.Â That includes the nation of Israel.
Aside from its biblical importance, Joppa also boasts a commanding view of the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Avivâ€™s impressive modern skyline. We arrived at an overlook just as dusk began to fall, and took the opportunity to take some photographs and drink in the cool sea breeze.After we had had an opportunity to stretch our legs, we headed to our hotel in Tel Aviv for some dinner and much needed rest. We all need to be well-prepared for our first full day of touring tomorrow!
Ben & Sarah