Mount Arbel

Mount Arbel is located in the Lower Galilee region in Israel. It stands about 1140 feet
above the Sea of Galilee and is punctuated with caves. Some of these caves date back to
the time of the Second Temple. The steep cliffs and caves served as natural hideouts
for rebels during the First Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire in the First Century
A.D. It also provides a scenic panoramic view of the Galilean Region and the Jezreel
valley. This meant that whoever controlled Mount Arbel is able to get a vantage point
to observe the major trade routes through the region and exert control over them.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus is said to go to a mountain in Galilee with the eleven
Apostles where He gave them the Great Commission. “And Jesus came and spake
unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Amen.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

While the exact mountain is not specified in the Scriptures, Mount Arbel is traditionally
taken to be the location where the Great Commission was issued. As Jesus spoke, the
panaromic view of the Galilean region will remind the disciples of how He taught and
performed many miracles among the people. The eleven Apostles had personally
witnessed and experienced the power of Christ which was manifested during His
Galilean ministry. All power is given to Christ in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18) and
this same power will empower the Apostles as they seek to fulfil the
Great Commission.

The promise of Christ’s power must have been very assuring to the disciples, who will
soon witness the ascension of Christ. This same promise also applies to us today who
labour in the work of the Gospel. So long as God’s people walk in the light of God’s
Word, they will be empowered by Christ to fulfil the Great Commission.

The Almond Tree

The pilgrims had the privilege to visit Yad Hashmona (i.e. Memorial of the Eight),
which is located in the Judean Hills of Israel some 20 km west of Jerusalem. It is
named after eight Jewish refugees from Austria who escaped to Finland in 1938.
Seven of them perished in Auschwitz. The remaining survivor later immigrated to

Yad Hashmona is a centre for Messianic Jews in Israel and the Home of the Bible
Translators. It also has a Biblical Garden which showcases various plants and trees
mentioned in the Bible. One such tree is the almond tree.

One passage which mentions the almond tree is Jeremiah 1:11-12. “Moreover
the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And
I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast
well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” (Jer. 1:11-12)

It is hard to make sense of the passage in English. However, the richness of the
verse is brought out in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew word for almond
(shaked) rhymes with the Hebrew word for hasten (shoked). It is
also interesting to note that the almond tree is one of the first to blossom with the
coming of spring. Whenever Jeremiah sees an almond tree, he is reminded that
God will always fulfil His Word in His good time. The destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians is imminent and sure. Thus, Jeremiah must remember His
call as the prophet and hasten to perform His duty by faithfully declaring God’s
message. Whenever, he sees an almond tree in the land, he will be encouraged in
the discharge of God’s call for him.

In application, we can be certain that the Lord will hastily (shoked) perform all the
judgments found in His Word including that of the end of this current world. Why then does
the Lord seem to delay His judgment? 2 Peter 3:9 has the answer – “The Lord is not slack
concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) There is
an opportunity to return to the Lord while we yet have our breath, but none beyond the grave.

Learning from the Seniors

We have a few seniors participating in the Holy Land Pilgrimage. Despite the aches and
pains sustained when navigating the hills and valleys, they still pressed on in keeping up with
the rest of the group. One of them said that this was probably the last time she could
participate in the pilgrimage, so she wanted to make use of every opportunity to learn as
much as she could from the sights and God’s Word in the pilgrimage. Such examples served
as a major encouragement for the rest of the pilgrims throughout our sojourn in the land,
provoking us to a greater love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

We can learn two things here. Firstly, our senior brethren may not have the strength of those
who are in their youth, but the Lord can use them to do much for Christ, so long as they
desire to remain faithful to God and His Word.

Secondly, we would like to encourage those in the strength of the youth to take the
opportunity to traverse the Holy Land. They are the ones best equipped to overcome the hills
and the valleys, and to learn the many spiritual lessons that the land can offer if they go with
an open Bible.

Another pilgrim asked, “Will there be another pilgrimage?” We can only reply, “According
to God’s will.” However, if the Lord moves the heart of God’s people to return to the Holy
Land, and the Lord opens the door, why not? The only requirement is that we must go with
the right spirit to seek the Lord in our journey, understanding that it is not the land that makes
the Bible alive, but the Bible that makes the land alive.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew