We recently visited new friends in Poriya, near Tiberius, near the southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. From atop the hill behind the low clouds in the picture below, Mark Twain is said to have stood and looked at the Jordan Valley and labeled the area…
….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. (Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad)
Now this “mournful expanse,” The Galilee, is green and lush. What happened? Isaiah prophesied (and his words are even more amazing when taken in context)…
the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1)
The improbable has happened 3,000 years after a prophet said it would. But it’s easy to be skeptical.
In Part One of this entry, I recommended against entirely discounting the supernatural, especially as it relates to scripture. It’s important to remember that the best minds in science haven’t proved or disproved anything. And many former skeptics have become people of faith because of what they’ve learned from science, not in spite of it. So consider reading on with an open mind. You’ll be in prestigious company.
From Jeremiah, 16:14-16:
‘Therefore,’ says Adonai, ‘the day will come when people will no longer swear, “As Adonai lives, who brought the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt,” but, “As Adonai lives, who brought the people of Isra’el out of the land to the north and out of all the countries where he drove them”; for I will bring them back to their own land, which I gave to their ancestors. ‘Look,’ says Adonai, ‘I will send for many fishermen, and they will fish for them. Afterwards, I will send for many hunters; and they will hunt them from every mountain and hill and out of caves in the rocks.
One of the questions we hear most in Jerusalem, and one we ask ourselves, is, “How did you get here?” Who wouldn’t be curious about why a supposedly sane individual would choose to live in the Middle East?
The answer to the question is always the same. In so many words, if they weren’t born here, they were led here.
For example. A lady we met for the first time at Sukkot told us that she had always been attracted to Israel, drawn to visit, even to live here, but she never understood why. She had an Italian surname and came from a Roman Catholic family. After spending nearly fifteen years of hanging on in Jerusalem—it’s not an easy thing to do—she made a discovery. She “happened” to find a job working for someone accomplished at genealogy and found, with his help, that her great grandfather, her Roman Catholic family patriarch, had been a forced convert from Judaism. She was, in fact, genetically a Jew.
Jerusalem is a sequence of testimonies. We have met scores of people with similar stories who explain there presence in Israel as a “calling.” But that’s not a mystery solved, it’s one discovered. How many people are powerfully drawn to Holland, or Turkey?
Ongoing Aliyah seems to be the first phase of God’s promise in Jeremiah. Fishermen are now at work; we’ve met some. Who then are the hunters Jeremiah spoke of who will complete the process of gathering the Jewish people back to the land?
Who will hunt Jews from every mountain and hill and out of caves in the rocks?
I do not know who they will be, how it will happen or how they will do it, but they don’t sound friendly. If you’ve been thinking about making Aliyah, I recommend that you consider developing a sense of urgency.
Bonus photos from a hike to the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee and Kibbutz Degania.
The Poriya area where we stayed is elevated well above the plane of the Sea of Galilee. I had the opportunity to walk with our host and his dog down to the shoreline, where the Jordan River heads south from the sea toward the Dead Sea, and visit the “birthplace of modern Israel.” The following pictures sample our path.