I just returned from a 2-week study tour in Israel. It was a very busy time, we travelled from Dan to Beersheba and my head is stuffed to overflowing with information! We were given a 4 inch thick notebook as well which was crammed with maps, illustrations and more information. I have not had much time yet to reflect on it all but one impression that definitely stood out was this: the place is not important, what is important is the message.
In Israel, one era is built right on top of another. You can have today’s town standing over ruins of the Ottman Turks which in turn are standing over the ruins of an earlier Muslim era which in turn are standing over Byzantine ruins, which in turn stand over Roman ruins, which may be standing over Hasmonean or Hellenistic ruins, which may be standing over ruins from the Israelite monarchy era which may in turn be standing over the ruins from David’s time which may be standing over ruins from the time of the patriarchs, and sometimes those ruins are on top of even earlier ruins.
Today all of those kingdoms have crumbled into dust.
You think of Jesus being able to see the great Roman sites of Herodium from the Mount of Olives, or Sepphoris which is walking distance from Nazareth or Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. He could see those monuments to Roman greatness and power. Yet He didn’t seem to be bothered by them or even much concerned with them, His teaching was beyond them, a universal message to all people of all ages. We saw the remains of the magnificant Roman cities of Caesarea and Beth-shan (Scythopolis), the campsites of the Roman legions which besieged Masada. Ancient Egyptian and Canaanite military outposts.
Sobering indeed to reflect on the probable fate of today’s kingdoms!
What has survived all those great kingdoms is the Word of God. In Qumran near the Dead Sea we saw caves where precious texts were hidden in jars. A very large number of them have survived nearly 2000 years and today witness to the preservation of God’s Word.
“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord
1 Peter 1:24-25a