My Journey To Jerusalem The Gospel According To Terrence
Terrence Clark- "Welcome to Israel" - the journey unfolds - Ben Gurion Airport outside of Tel Aviv
by Terrence G. Clark Chapter Two - Day 1
Joppa First Jonah, Fish, Peter & Pork, Coffee
After 10 hours in the air, we touched down in the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (really the nearest city). “Welcome to Israel” was on the sign, which greeted us as we exited the plane. Grabbing our bags and gathering together, we met our guide for the days to come---Gershon Priewer.
Named after---one of Moses sons, he reminded us. It means born in a strange land. Gershon was born in Chili. He ran away to Israel as a boy to reconnect with his Jewish ancestry.
A silvered haired, thin built gentlemen, around 60 or so. I mused, he looked like Leonard Nimoy--- Spock from Star Trek’s original series---a Jew himself. An honor I thought, although I never shared that with Gershon, not knowing if he'd find it admirable. Our driver, Albert complimented our historian guide. His skills in driving would prove impressive in the days to come maneuvering on narrow mountainous roads and squeezing into tight parking spaces.
True to the trip itinerary, we hit the ground touring. On to the large full-size multi-passenger bus, bags stowed underneath. Before we had departed the airport, Gershon began. A quick note of Israeli champion Ben-Gurion, after whom the airport was named, and the story of Tel Aviv, and one of the words we would soon become familiar with.
"Tel" as in "Tel Aviv" is the Hebrew word for mound or hill in Hebrew its reference is more historical and archeological. It's the story of a city. A city---usually built along a road, and usually beginning as an actual hill. It's past built in layers---generations, conquests, and time. It is a city rebuilt on top of itself layer after layer.
I could hear the words "tale" or "tell"---in the pronunciation, thinking about how stories are often built upon layers of truth, experiences, and interpretations. Traditions and beliefs passed amongst generation in their road of life. The tale is told. But the truth, with much revelation, becomes eyes opening, and even holistic, when excavated, finding what really happened.
The Fish Picture that didn't get away---reminiscence of Jonah's epic voyage and mission and the resulting revival in the other city of Ninevah.
Our first stop, the city of Jaffa known in the bible as Joppa. Jaffa's story as in most sites of Israel connected both Old and New Testament. I think, we were amazed at this first site. It was a city. Most of us snapping pictures already at the architect and getting our first instructions from Gershon.
“Don’t take pictures while you walk.”
This would be repeated often. Despite American quips about Jewish lawyers and accountants, Israel culture doesn’t sue. So tripping and filing claims against the state or one of its towns probably wouldn’t fly. We continue to click digital photos at the arches and other would be magazine worthy images.
A museum or library, to our right at a traffic light, that used to be a hospital, was pointed out to be where healing Evangelist Benny Hinn was born. Okay, he’s not in scripture, but close enough to be noteworthy of several pictures. Ahead was the statue of the big fish. Joppa, of course, is where Jonah fled to, or was trying to get to, to escape his preaching assignment in Nineveh.
The big fish from the Lord, of course, prevented that. Perhaps a prequel to Gilligan’s Island. A three-hour tour that went bad, but with a single castaway, without a single luxury. I was borderline needing a shower, close to 24 hours since my last. Jonah never made it to Joppa, his tour went the other way. Proving good for the natives. He ranked of fish gut.
With that in mind, we went to church…St Peter’s Church a (Franciscan church) - named after the Apostle Peter, of course. It’s where pork comes into play. (Which I don’t recall seeing any anywhere in Israel). It was here, staying at Simon the Tanner house that Peter received his vision on the rooftop, while waiting for lunch. God lowered a table of foods from heaven for Peter to eat---Acts 10:5-8. Peter refused, saying this food, the Lord had prepared was unclean---not kosher, forbidden under the Mosaic law—given by God that he followed all his life.
“It's unclean, said Peter. I’m not eating that.”
God replied, “Don’t call what I have made clean, unclean.”
Of course, the vision was more than having new restaurants to add to the list. It was the revelation that the gospel had come to the Gentiles as well---thank God and pass the pork chop. It was also here in Joppa that earlier---Acts 9:36-43 that Peter raised Tabitha from the dead.
Like Peter, we left Jaffa and headed to Caesarea. Peter left to visit the Roman Centurion Cornelius who was the doorway to Peter’s new calling. Cornelius had been praying for a visitation from God (he knew something was missing in life) God sent him Peter with the message.
Our quest was to visit its ruins. Caesarea (Maritima) is an ancient Roman city site where is located, a theater, hippodrome, and aqueduct which brought water from the springs of Mt. Carmel. This was the tour intro to Herod the Great, which Gershon seemed to have an affinity for. Not because of the murderous tyranny of this Roman-appointed king of the Jews, but because his fear based ingenuity and the results that become valuable.
This Caesarea, which the bible mentions two, was visited by Paul during his missionary journeys, and where he was a prisoner for two years before being sent to Rome (Acts 24 – 26). Pastor Jason and I had the opportunity to do our first video feed. The echos of history and truths of the bible were being turned up as we spent time there, right on a beach of the Mediterranean Sea. Our minds were being prepared. We snapped more pictures, trying our best to capture, as if we were the first, in history or time. And of course, to show we were there.
There were different coliseums. Some for the arts (speeches and plays). Some for horse racing. Some for blood sport and murder. We preached from the stage, where Paul may have stood and preached, to Jew and Gentile, this growing gospel of the cross, to the curious and hungry. We admonished Christians from the ground---where believers were shredded by lions for their unwavering profession of Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world, and their own souls.
We spent the night in Netanya, a city named after Jewish American businessman and philanthropist---Nathan Straus. Here was also our first introduction to Israeli coffee or the lack thereof. Dinner was at 6:30 PM at the hotel. The room was reserved for our group. The meal began with bowls of Mediterranean based potages---shredded cabbage, beets, carrots, olives, and hummus. We dug-in, intrigued somewhat with the fish-shaped bowls that just kept coming. Taking our fill, we realized, this was just the first course. The second course was with roast chicken, steak, and probably the best piece of salmon I have had.
The bread was fresh and warm—short rolls, varying types. Dessert was last, but no coffee to finish. Hebrew law forbids cooking meat in it mother’s milk. The practiced tradition extends, to keep things kosher. Milk products, such as would be served in coffee, could not be present in the same room.
Full, I retired to my room, to hang out a few minutes with the Lord, and then get some sleep. The next day would be here shortly. I still had to settle the change in time from NJ. It was 9:30 PM Israel time, but just 2:30 PM at home---on the East Coast.
Rona's Report - Day 1
1st Day – November 4 (Wed)
Arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv at 7:00 am, and started our journey of Israel with our guide, Gershon Priewer, and driver, Albert
- Some information shared by Gershon:
o Israel is bounded by Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, and Egypt in the southwest
o “Tel” (as in Tel-Aviv) is a Hebrew word meaning hill or mound, underneath of which can be found ruins of previous settlements
o In ancient Israel, men wore outer garments with tassels tied into 613 knots as a constant reminder of God's commandments (Numbers 15:37-41)
- Oldest city in the southern part of Tel Aviv - St Peter’s Church (Franciscan church) - named after Peter, it was believed to be where he raised one of Jesus’ disciples from the dead (Acts 9:36-43; Acts 10:5-8)
- Ruins of an ancient Roman city built by Herod the Great; sites include the theater, hippodrome, and aqueduct which brought water from the springs of Mt. Carmel
- Believed to be a place visited by Paul during his missionary journeys, and where he was a prisoner for two years before being sent to Rome (Acts 24 – 26)
- City named after Nathan Straus, a Jewish American businessman and philanthropist