At Home in Jerusalem - really? did you feel safe?
Upon my return from a life-changing trip to Israel, I found it interesting that one of the first questions people ask me about my trip is, “did you feel safe?” Understanding that Israel is historically and regionally at risk due to terrorism within its borders and enemies close to and beyond its borders, it is natural for any tourist to feel concerned. Yet, my experience in Israel was far from feeling threatened. Even as I walked through the Old City of Jerusalem, where there had been [recent] tensions amongst some of the local Muslims, I sensed peace penetrate right through me. Okay, it may have helped that our tour guide is a black belt in karate and is a part of the Israeli Military Reserves. :-) But nevertheless, I realized that I was [at] peace in Jerusalem because I was at home in Jerusalem.
In the English language, “home” simply means, “a place where a person lives” (Merriam-Webster). In the Hebrew, however, home translates to “bayit” with the root syllable coming from the word, “beth”. As a student of the scriptures, I immediately linked “beth” to “Bethel” meaning House of God and located along an important road called ‘the Road of the Patriarchs”. Genesis 35:15 is where we first see the mention of Bethel. Bethel is where God met Jacob and said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel.” (Genesis 35:10) Bethel is where God gives Jacob the charge to become a great nation, a chosen nation. (from Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel). Additionally, the Psalmist declares in Psalm 132:13-14, “For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; he has desired it for his home. ‘This is my resting place forever…” (Emphasis added). This brought clarity to why I, too, felt so at home in this city.
What I find even more fascinating than the “eternal dwelling place” (Psalm 74:2, 76:2) is the fact that redemption for all humanity begins in Jerusalem. It is the birthplace of grace, but in the end, it will stand as the homeland of justice and righteousness (Isaiah 33:5). From Jerusalem, Jesus was given for freedom. From Jerusalem, Jesus was raised from the grave. From Jerusalem, the disciples were sent out into the world to spread the gospel. From Jerusalem, the Spirit was poured out in power. From Jerusalem, the first church gathered. And it will be from Jerusalem, on Mount Olives, our King will return and reign victoriously forever. “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…And the Lord will be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:4,9). The divine destiny for Jerusalem has the strength to bring peace to us all.
My answer to the question, “did you feel safe in Israel?” is [“YES.”] I rest in the promise, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night” (Isaiah 62:6). It is my privilege to proclaim that I felt secure, at rest… and finally, blessed while [visiting or being] in the epi-center of the world – Jerusalem.
Writer: Whitney Morrow/USA