Evidence of Sin

I’m counting down my top ten favorite insights from our trips to Israel; this week is number nine.  Of all the amazing sites to see in the land of Israel, what cannot be ignored is the unbelievable effects of sin throughout history.
Although a person wouldn’t have to travel seven thousand miles to see the effects of sin; man’s rebellion and attempt to live independently of God provided the background for many of the places we toured in Israel.  Many of them, like Caesarea, had to do with King Herod’s attempt to rule the world.  Herod built the city of Caesarea on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in hopes that his port city would welcome travelers from around the world to experience the best that Greek culture had to offer.  It was in the praetorian of his palace where the Apostle Paul was imprisoned before being sent to Rome.  A few hundred feet from his palace, Herod built a large outdoor stadium where many Christians were tortured.  The unique thing about Caesarea was that Herod built the city to import Greek Imperialism and to establish Roman control, but eventually it became the export city of the gospel message.
Other evidence of sin is the wall currently being built around Bethlehem in hopes of keeping Palestinian terrorists out of Jerusalem which is only six miles away.  The city where the Prince of Peace was born now seems forever entrenched in conflict.
We also stopped at Tel-Lachish where our tour guide told the story of when the Assyrians wiped out the entire community in 701B.C. (II Chronicles 32).  So brutal were the murders that a cut out of the hillside shows a two inch layer of soil that was drenched in blood.
And then finally we traveled to Jerusalem where our Savior was eventually beaten and crucified, a city that has also experienced a great deal of evil over its history.  Even today there is constant conflict between the Arabs, the Christians, and the Jews, all claiming that the city of Jerusalem is their Holy City.
Evil is a horrific reality, yet the good news for us is that, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:8). The victory has been won!
As we stood on Mount of Olives, which is an excellent vantage point for overlooking the old city, tears began streaming down my cheeks as I thought about the Palm Sunday when, Jesus too, wept over the city.  “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes…because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41-44).
How sad the effect of sin that blinds our eyes to the goodness of God. How sad it must’ve been for Jesus to share his life so sacrificially, only to be rejected by his own people. How sad it is, even today, that there are so few believers in Jerusalem and that there is so little peace.  But the thought that humbled me the most was to realize that Jesus came to die for my sin, and to pay for the evil I’ve contributed to society as well.  And not only did he pay for my sin, he gave me the gift of grace to open my eyes to recognize his coming to me.
My prayer for you this week is that you might spend some time reflecting and rejoicing over Jesus’ willingness to take your place on the cross. Maybe consider if there are any areas of deception in your life that Jesus would weep over. And then, may you come to recognize in your search for true inner peace, that it can only be found in Jesus.      Blessings from your fellow nomad, Mike

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