Testimony of the Holy Land Pilgrimage

As the boat sailed into the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee, seemingly a fitting end to the 13-day hectic but blessed pilgrimage in the Holy Land. For it was on the surrounding shores of this lake that the Lord had spent a large part of His earthly ministry. As the mountainous landscape came into clearer focus, I felt the urge to replay in my mind the acts the Lord performed at the various locations – preaching the well-loved Sermon on the Mount, feeding the 5000, calming of the storm, walking on the sea, saving sinking Peter, restoring the crestfallen Peter – imagining how thrilling it would be had I been one of the witnesses of each unfolding event. Then it dawned upon me that we have something better than these imaginations. God has given us His more sure Word whereby we can read repeatedly the records of these events and the Holy Spirit assisting us, leading us into new insights each time we read them. Indeed the Lord had used this pilgrimage to give us a new impetus and understanding now when we read God’s Word. God willing, if we could return to the Holy Land in the soon future, we should be able to connect more personally to each of these locations and the events that occurred there.

As the beautiful landscape continued to unfold, I was led to reflect on the numerous blessings we had received from God. Indeed they are too many to enumerate; occurring in all aspects of this journey.

Take for example the running of the daily schedule. Many things proceeded smoothly and we were all kept largely well and safe. We were told at the pre-trip briefing to bring umbrellas as rainy weather were expected. But for all except 1 day, the weather was gloriously fine. And even for the only day where it did rain, it was a light short shower. It would have been quite challenging for the group had it been raining as we have travellers ranging from 2 to over 70 years old, with some of the pilgrims having difficulty in walking. On not a few occasions, we were warned of long queues and waiting time at certain sites we are visiting but none of these came true. God granted smooth passages all through including the underground tunnel at Old Jerusalem. All 47 of us were even allowed to go in together when by usual procedure we would have to divide up into 2 groups, with 30 minutes separating the 2. This was indeed God’s goodness and answer to our daily start-of-the-day prayer when we acknowledged our dependence on Him. He knew specifically our needs with the wide age range of the travellers and graciously provided for them. God is in control of everything and He takes a personal interest in each of our lives. How we must learn to trust in His providential care in our lives, whether through good or bad times.

However on a few occasions, there were moments of concern. Once our bus driver had to jam his brake to avoid a car that swerved into our path on the dark and narrow streets of Jerusalem. And a few other occasions, some members of the group came down with severe gastric pain. It was like God is reminding us not to forget to depend on Him for our daily going out and coming in. Mercifully God granted quick recovery to these brethren. As God had counseled the Israelites to ‘beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God … lest when thou hast eaten and art full … then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God’ (Deuteronomy 8: 11-14), so must we always remember our God and depend on Him, whatever situation we may be in.

Then there is also much to thank God for the many lessons gleaned from the sites we had visited. Taken as a whole, they afford us a better understanding now as we read the Scriptures. But some places hold special meaning to us more than others. For me, this was at the probable site of Calvary and the Garden Tomb. First at Golgotha, we sensed the darkness and agony the Lord Jesus endured when He hung on the tree for us. And walking over a short distance, we come to an empty tomb with this inscription on the door – He is risen; He is not here: (Mark 16:6). I stood there, trying to soak in the joy and triumph of the 1st Easter Sunday. Christ died and rose for us! We serve a risen Saviour! And to culminate this experience by partaking the Lord’s Supper was doubly meaningful. Remembering the words of the Lord – ‘This is My body, which is broken for you … This cup is the new testament in My blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ (1 Corinthians 11:24-25) Yea Lord, for all that You have done for us, ‘let us never, never outlive our love for Thee.’

Time and space would fail me to detailed the blessings of fellowship with and learning from each of the brethren, the sharing each night during the debrief which were sincere and uplifting, and more importantly the exhortations from God’s Word by Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew. Indeed it had been a privilege to walk where the Lord Jesus had once walked. Let us now continue to do the work that He had done as He enjoins us ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’ (John 14:12). Amen.

Brother Isaac Koh