I got home safely from Israel.
Among the souvenirs are two stones.
A Stone from Caesarea
One is from Caesarea, the largest port city along the Mediterranean coast in Jesus‘ time, built by King Herod, who also rebuilt the temple.
King Herod was a Jew but because he loved the Roman Empire and Caesar, he built a huge city including a palace, amphitheater, hippodrome for Romans.
According to the tour guide, King Herod and the Romans were so cruel that, for example, while watching a play, which had a scene to gouge out an eye, they literally did so with a slave on the stage. Herod made a pond around the theater, stocked alligators, and if the spectators got bored with plays, they threw slaves in the pond and got excitement.
The Bible tells that the Israelites, who were oppressed and suffered by Romans, longed for the Messiah, who had been prophesied a long ago, to come, and the immense ruins convinced me of the scripture.
The stone from this site is a symbol of suffering and affliction.
A Stone from Galilee
The other stone is from the Sea of Galilee, the site where Peter was restored by the resurrected Jesus.
The night before Jesus was arrested, He told his disciples that he would be tortured, crucified, and all of the disciples would desert Him. Peter immediately corrected Jesus saying that would never happen, and he would never betray Jesus even if others would do so. Yet Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before a rooster crowed, and so it happened.
Peter failed bitterly, and then the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. Jesus restored Peter by asking, “ Do you love me?” and telling him, who answered yes, to “feed His sheep.”
In spite of the sin, fatal mistake, or guilt, Jesus forgave Peter and gave a 2nd chance to become a powerful disciple to proclaim the gospel even to the Gentiles.
The stone from here is a symbol of God’s grace, love, and hope.
During the trip I learned and thought many things, but most importantly I learned that God is so faithful.
The history of Israel is the history between Israelites, who have repeatedly ran away from God and faced oppressions, persecutions, and exiles, and God, who has been so faithful that He rescued them each time in spite of their disobedience. The reason why Jesus was born in this tiny country for this pathetic people is also probably because God is faithful to keep the promise He made with Abraham. Now His plan of salvation has spread to the world through Jesus followed by His disciples.
The stone of Caesarea reminds me of my battle of cancer, yet I also have a stone of Galilee.
“ I will never forsake you.”
I feel like I saw His promise in this trip of Israel.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!