Barb Harwood photo
I just returned from a 10-day study tour of Israel. I may be sharing some of the experiences my husband, Brad, and I had in Israel in the coming weeks, but will briefly share one thing now. And that is, if you or someone you know is pining to go to the Holy Land, or if you are sorrowful that you don’t know if you will ever be able to go, I can say this: You, as a believer, are the “Holy Land.” You don’t have to go to Israel to see the temple of God, because Acts 7:48 and 17:24 tell us God does not live in temples built by man. God created man, and lives in the temple of each believer, as we read in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” And again in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…”
If you’re thinking that it would be the most amazing thing in the world to visit the supposed tomb(s) of Jesus, I can say that I was there, but Jesus was not (certainly He was present in Spirit). But the tomb is empty. “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6; see also Luke 24:6).
Jesus, who walked the Sea of Galilee, bore our sins on Calvary and rose to life and out of the tomb donated by Joseph of Arimathea, is just as close to each and every one of us here in our home towns as he is to us when we visit Israel. He wasn’t any closer to me in Israel than he is right now as I write these words, and to you as you read them.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus’ time on earth took place in a small area of what is now known as Israel. Although Jesus will return to Israel, He is now in Israel, just as He is in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Dublin, London, Singapore and any given place on earth. His Kingdom on earth continues in us.
Is it great to visit Israel? Absolutely yes. But I believe it is even greater to know that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, lives in us, ministers through us and overcomes death for us right here, where you and I are.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:16