Hi all, my sincere apologies for not updating this blog as intended but it has been extremely busy for all of us at the course and whatever free time that we have had has been used for rest. The course has been tremendous…with top notch lecturers. For example, today we had a fascinating lecture from the “Chief Nazi Hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre” and were shown methods the Nazi hunters used to track down war criminals. Throughout the course we have been taught by eminent historians and survivors of the holocaust.
The participants are also varied…there’s Adrian a lecturer from SA who has written the history curriculum for the state. Mark who is in charge of RE of all Catholic schools in Brisbane, Anthony who is a chaplain at ADFA, new teachers, experienced teachers and stuck in the middle somewhere is me trying to soak it all in. The good thing is that I have made some professional friendships and contacts which I plan to utilize in my teaching.
After two weeks of learning not only about “shoah” but also how to teach it (pedagogy), I feel wrung out emotionally and mentally. The one key thing that I have learnt is how to bring students “safely in and safely out” of what can be if not handled well a very traumatic subject. The Lord has been a tremendous reassurance for me…forgiving, correcting, guiding, teaching me with patience and grace and giving me opportunity to declare my faith to others of the course. So, before continuing I would like to thank all of you for your interest and prayers for me and my family…special thanks goes to my family at Covenant college a great school to teach and work in and my family at South Valley Baptist who have welcomed the Nairs with open arms. Now to continue….
The Israelis prefer the term Shoah compared to the holocaust because when one understands the definition of the word, holocaust it has been happening for thousands of years. Let me explain….
The holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” They prefer not to use this term as by definition the Jews have been practicing holocaust since old testament times and they have reminded us gently here at yad vashem that the Jews of Europe were not sacrificed but murdered by the nazi’s. But enough about this….I’m sure you are more interested in what the Lord has allowed me to see in this land of the bible. I’ll try and give a quick summary of the sights that I have been blessed to visit.
2 weeks ago on saturday the 8th before the start of the course proper we were given a tour of Jerusalem and it’s surrounds. We were shown the first Jewish neighbourhood right outside the old city walls which was built by Sultan Suleiman(Solomon) the magnificent about 500 hundred years ago.
Directly across from this neighborhood was Mt Zion… Which led up to the temple mount… It was fascinating…to think that this was the Mt Zion that psalm 25 describes….”Those who trust in the Lord are like Mt Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore”.
To be able now to picture in my mind what the biblical writer meant with these verses and to actually see the mountains surround Jerusalem was priceless and to understand scripture in it’s context…what a blessing!!!!.
I was able to climb Mt Zion and to think of the people of old having done the same was tremendous. I have now walked the old city so many times in these few days that the tour guides don’t bother me anymore 🙂
The week from the 9th onwards was filled with lectures, workshops, group work, research and pedagogy. Lectures began at 8.30 sharp and would continue till 4.30 and even 6 pm. There were times when i felt like running out of the classroom because i felt like i couldn’t take anymore but Through your prayers i know that Jesus sustained me and gave me strength not only to continue but participate. Then there would be dinner at the hotel followed by discussions and activities.
I must share the visit to the Israel museum. The highlight for me was viewing one of the dead sea scrolls and the history behind it. Here in front of me was a scroll of Isaiah written 1500 years before the current manuscript that is used for the bible and it is word for word the same. There’s an answer to those who deny the inerrancy of scripture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photographs as it was not allowed. I could have spent all day in this museum but we had only 3 hrs to explore. The museum even had a video demonstration of how careful the scribes were in copying manuscripts and there were examples of invalid texts of scripture….ones where an ancient scribe had made a mistake with just one word and the manuscript was considered invalid. Guess whiteout wouldn’t have been accepted either.
On the Sabbath last Friday evening, they organized for us to visit an orthodox synagogue(little temple). It was tremendous to hear prayers in Hebrew and follow along as they asked the Lord to bless the day. I was surprised they actually allowed Gentiles in…we had to wear the yarmulke and men and women were seated separately. The men went in first and I had to laugh at all the feminists in the group who were quietly fuming. Although as Gentiles we had to sit in the back…thank the Lord for Jesus who has broken down these barriers through his sacrifice for now there is no Jew or gentile, man or woman as all are equal before the Lord although we do have different roles.
On the Sunday we boarded this orange colored bus and were driven up north… Past the Undulating hills of the Judean desert, all the time I was thinking about the disciples walking and talking with the
Lord through this barren landscape. An hour and a half later we visited Bet Shean which contains the best preserved roman town. This roman town was the capital of the decapolis or 10 cities which is in the same vicinity as Mt Gilboah where Saul and Jonathon were killed by the Philistines who then hung their bodies up on the walls of Bet Shean.(1Samuel 31:10).
After this we visited passed the Sea Of Galilee to the what was really the Lord’s second home Capernaum. I must say that why this secular organization of yad vashem organized visits to Christian sites can only be described as a blessing to me. I never would have thought that I would visit all these places. To put vision to word is truly amazing. I truly recommend that if time and money permit you too visit these places. Ask the Lord who is an impartial God what he has allowed me he will for you too.
In Capernaum, I actually saw the houses that were around the time of Jesus that have been dug up by archeologists. There was also the lower level of the synagogue that our Lord visited. Standing here just sent chills through me. This was where Jesus healed the man from an evil spirit. Mark 1:23. And this little man too stood there…
Here in Capernaum was also the house of Peter where Jesus stayed. According to Jerome Murphy this could be the very house that
Jesus would have stayed in as all the evidence points to this fact. I was surprised to learn how small these houses were.
Leaving this we visited Nazareth which didn’t impress me much because really there is nothing there. It had a depressing atmosphere over it, which reminded of the verse…”can anything good come out of Nazareth”. The only interesting area was under the church where an ancient workshop was unearthed where tradition says Joseph would have worked.
We also stopped by the sea of Galilee where upon an outcrop of rock Where our Lord called to Peter after the resurrection and broiled fish and supped with them. It was a magnificent place which apart from the church had not changed much after all these years.
This last week was spent finalizing our projects which are due by September and the course finished Thursday. It is about 11.30 on a friday night and I wish I could write more but I must pack and get ready to leave by 12 tomorrow. Security is very very tight at the airport ESP when leaving Israel and I would appreciate your prayers for favor with the authorities. I have heard from some teachers who have left that they had a difficult time at the airport.
My flight leaves for Istanbul from tel aviv at 7.30 and I have an hour and a half stopover at Istanbul. From Istanbul to Singapore is about a 12 hour flight with a 4 hour stopover and then, 7 and half hours to Melbourne. I will be cactus…with my circadian rhythms all out of sync so I appreciate your prayers very much. I have been blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. It has been a tremendous experience one which I will not easily forget and will keep with me for the rest of my life…. The course has been physically and emotionally demanding but visiting the places where Jesus lived and taught has been truly worth it.
Before I end…while coming back from Masada and the dead sea… I saw Mt nebo the mountain where Moses had a look at the promised land. Mt Nebo is now in Jordan but scripturally it also in a sense is where the old and the new testament meet. Deuteronomy 34 tells us that this is the place where Moses died….if you then jump to the book of Jude, it will tell you that that the devil appeared to desecrate the body of Moses. Turning back to the end of duet 34 we read that the Lord himself comes to bury Moses and no one knows where his body…. How else would Jude have known this unless by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Looking forward to seeing Donna, Meera and my little bubkus Dhev…also looking forward to seeing all of you in time….thanks again for being with me in Israel. Thanking HIM for all our days…..c u soo