It was Jill’s first time in Israel, a trip that she had waited a lifetime to make. After a few days, she kept unintentionally repeating a phrase that became the running joke of our small group- “It just feels like home!” In our experience this is not unusual to hear this or to have someone to exclaim “I could move here!” If you have never been to Israel and later question what they mean, they may have trouble explaining how deep from within that comment came. They may just say something like “you just have to go and experience it.” If you’ve never been, this may sound like the musings of an excited traveler or even of spiritual ecstasy. However, there is some truth to Jill’s statements.
We think of a home as a place where we live, a place of warmth and belonging. More than just a location, a home comes with internal feelings and connection. A beautiful 3 bedroom cliff-side chateau overlooking an ocean sounds wonderful, but without those internal connections with close friends or family, it’s just a nice house. More importantly, home is personal- a place where a parent is welcoming, showing love and acceptance. The prodigal son didn’t want to return to house or a family business, but to where the Father was. But where does our Father live? The Scriptures tell us.
For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13-14)
My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. (2 Chronicles 7:16)
While we know that God is everywhere, sees everything and we can sense His heart in any location, there is a unique place that God has chosen to dwell- Jerusalem. For some reason, the Lord feels strongly about this place. He has chosen it, He wants to live there, and it’s where He rests. It is a place that He is always watching and His heart is there- forever. For those of us that are called His children, this makes it “home”, simply because He is there.
Zechariah 8:1 tells is that the Lord “will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem”. He will gather His people from the east and west so they too will live in the midst of Jerusalem…with Him. If we continue reading in Zechariah 14, we find that each year He will gather the nations to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. As a friend of mine in Jerusalem likes to say, “When all the nations start coming here on an annual basis, I hope the Lord has a better traffic pattern in mind.” I’m sure He’s thought of that.
Israel is not perfect. There are difficult problems, hardships and people not getting along… perhaps sort of like our own home sometimes. Yet home is where the Father lives and He is the reason we are here. Whether in this life or the next, we all will be going to Jerusalem. For those that have already gone or are about to go, they are simply ahead of the curve and are beating the rush. Once you have experienced “home” and that sense of belonging, it’s hard to leave and even harder to forget. You just have to go and experience it.
Grace and Shalom,
Doug Hershey is an author, conference speaker and founder of Ezra Adventures. Ezra Adventures specializes in customized and personalized small group travel to Israel, West Bank and Jordan consisting of service projects, adventure day trips and unique biblical sites. Doug has been involved in Israel-related projects and has cultivated unique relationships in Israel for almost 20 years. In 2008, Doug wrote a book called 'The Christian's Biblical Guide to Understanding Israel.' In 2013, he co-authored a joint resolution in support of Israel that passed the Maine State Legislature, making it the 7th state in the US to do so. His ground breaking photo book project “Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens” is currently being reviewed by several international publishers which combines historical first hand accounts of the land with exact side by side comparison photos from the 1880s-1940s to today, showing how much the land has blossomed under Israeli sovereignty, just as Scriptures foretold. When he is not in Israel, he has been speaking in churches and synagogues around the United States about the importance of Israel in the Bible, understanding current events from a biblical worldview and how biblical prophecy is coming to pass today in accurate, literal and tangible ways.