Most of the Bible takes place in the middle east with the exception of bits that are focused more on the Mediterranean locations where Paul traveled. If I were to take a guess, I would say that many of today’s Christians don’t know why God would choose it as a location for his people. Actually, I’d be curious to know how many people even think about it. But I will still ask the question.

Why did God choose to give his people the land we know as Israel?

At first glance, from photos and with all the turmoil that we hear and read about, it’s tempting to think it the worst place to establish the Hebrew nation. And yet, this is the place God chooses.

 

Ruins of a village we visited that show the remains of non-Hebrew and later Hebrew inhabitants.  The road in the distance would be close to the route of the Via Maris.

 

And why is Jericho the first city the Israelites capture? To know this we have to know the geography. In the days of the Bible, the fortified city of Jericho was on the strategic road linking the Via Maris and the King’s Highway — the major trade routes of the ancient world.

This is a sign of God’s strategic genius!

Why and how do you establish your people as a major player in the world? By placing them in the middle of east/west trade routes, they had the ability to show the love of God to everyone. God desired his people (Israelites) to be different, to look different, to act different than the cultures around them in order to show them God, The God, was different, a God who loves. How do you establish your people? I can’t think of a better way to build their economy than by having control and influence over the trade routes.

How does this apply now?

You are not here by accident, neither am I. We have been placed in this time and in this place by God just as he placed the Israelites in the middle of trade routes. We may not have the financial benefits that Israel had in the ancient world, but we do have the ability to influence those around us. God calls us to be the ones who show his love to a world that so badly needs it.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Interestingly enough, this doesn’t come at the end of passages about witnessing and evangelism. The previous passages are the Beatitudes about mercy, kindness, righteousness, and humility.

David Willna is a Jewish man who studied and lived in California until he won $14,000 on Wheel of Fortune. David went to Israel intending to live for a year and yet was still there years later when author Bruce Feiler ran into him. Here are his words, taken from Feiler’s book “Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths.”

“The relationship between a person and another human being is what creates and allows for a relationship with God. If you’re not capable of living with each other and getting along with each other, then you’re not capable of having a relationship with God.” 

That kind of goes back to a sermon Ben Webb preached at our church a few weeks ago. You can’t honor Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God without honoring the command to love others.

How are you going to show God’s love to those you encounter each day? How are you going to bring shalom to the relationships you have with those in your community?