Devos from Israel: Driving Forward, Looking Back

Written by Emily and Kevin Kusunoki, Ministry Residents

Below is a post lifted from Emily and Kevin’s travel blog from their time together in Israel. Enjoy!

On Saturday and Sunday of our first week, we glanced what felt like every city the Bible ever mentions. It was one heck of a bus ride; a big step back in time to cities we usually skim over when reading our devotionals.

Fortunately, we can take you back with us (using pictures, of course, since we have yet to master the port-key). Below are just a few aerial shots so you can see what these biblical cities look like in their modern day, and hopefully be as mind-blown as some of us….or at least have your expectations upended.

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Gibeah of Saul: Where Saul is from and the town within the region of Benjamin that rapes the concubine of the Levite in Judges 19. All of Israel teams up against Gibeah after this horrific event, and wipe out all but 600 Benjaminites. Terrible stuff! But here is a sky-high view of that same city today.
The Wilderness in which Jesus was tempted by Satan (Mathew 4: 1-11). I can’t explain what it was like to stand in this place for 20 minutes, let alone 40 days and nights. Lucky for us, it was a mere 80 degrees F that day, because it can get up to 120 degrees on a normal day! It was miles upon miles of rocky hills and valleys. The Wadi Qilt is right in front of us. But the most important thing is that Jesus wandered here without any food or water, yet did what no other man could do before him: resist temptation. Because Jesus could stand being HERE, we can stand with him in eternity. Crazy.
Bible Jericho
Remember that cool story in Joshua 6: 1-27, when the walls of Jericho fell after the people marched for 7 days around it’s borders? And then all they had to do was make a TON of noise and they’d won the city? Well, here is that city now. It’s been through a few excavations, so it’s a bit sad. Still very hole-y though. 😉
Modern Jericho
Here is more of modern Jericho! A bit nicer and happier, eh? If you can squint and see wayyy off in the distance, you can see the Jordan River. It is from that direction the two spies snuck into the city and camped out in Rahab’s house in Joshua 2. The hills they ran to are behind us! They just look like rocky humps.
Michmash to Geba to Ramah (The Pass)
This view may seem a bit underwhelming, but it was way more intense as we ran across a busy highway, hiked to the top of a massive hill in speeding winds, and then stared as we read 1 Samuel 14 together. There are three cities here, from left to right: Michmash, Geba, and Ramah. It is between these cities that Jonathon and his shield bearer fought off an entire division of Philistines, helping save Israel once again during the reign of his father Saul (who, well, doesn’t do much).
Gezer: basically the trade center of the Old Testament, specifically during Solomon’s reign. And we could easily see why, as we ran through patches of wheat and stared into a bright sunset. It’s popularity had more to do with the easy-access road that ran through it, but the beauty and life in it was such a contrast to the desert just a few miles away. While exploring, we even found a few pillars made by Canaanites to worship their false gods, as well as a cave full of pigeons and bats! Woahoo.
Gibeon, Ramah, and Geba
A view from atop Nebi Samwil, an old Crusader church near Jerusalem. Here you can see a very faraway view of Gibeon, Ramah, and Gibeah. Gibeon, towards the left, is the city that tricked the Israelites by pretending to be poor, foreign travelers in need of provision and a city. And, thus, above the valley in the center is the very spot the battle of Joshua 10 happened. This battle is famous because it marks the day the sun stood still, as it is written, “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being.” Interesting huh???
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You might not have expected this, but right now you’re looking at modern Bethlehem! It is not a farm, as I first expected, but is actually a city that currently resides in Palestine territory. It’s a bit underwhelming, with a Catholic Church built over the spot Christ was believed to have been born, which they keep in a cave in the basement. Going into this cave is like being in a mosh pit at Warped Tour. There’s a chance we even lost a few students down there (just kidding…I think).
Rephaim Valley
This little beaut is the Valley of Rephaim, where David defeated the last of the Philistines before succeeding Saul as the King (2 Samuel 5: 22). Could these be the same trees he hid behind??? Hmmm….

And that concludes the end of your tour.

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