More lessons from Israel

I just returned from Israel, where I toured with Lon Solomon Ministries. One of Pastor Solomon’s most memorable sayings is, “The more they dig out of the ground, the more the Bible proves to be true.” A trip to Israel is a sure way of experiencing the truth of that statement. One of my favorite archaeological finds was located in the ancient city of Magdala, situated on the shores of Galilee. In 2006, a group from Mexico decided that a site in Magdala was a perfect location for a guest house, so they began digging the foundation. Inadvertently, the workers hit what appeared to be ancient ruins. Pursuant to Israeli law, construction ceased, and the appropriate historical authorities were contacted. Upon further investigation, they discovered that they had uncovered the ruins of an ancient synagogue dated to the time of Jesus. Historians have determined that this synagogue is the oldest excavated in Galilee and one of seven from the first century in all of Israel. (A coin minted in 29 CE was found inside the synagogue verifying the date to the first century and the time of Jesus.)


Why is this significant? The Bible often references Jesus’ preaching at the local synagogues. For a long time, critics of the Bible argued that synagogues did not exist at the time of Jesus—they conjectured that synagogues were built only after the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Certainly, the discovery at Magdala, as well as the other synagogues, helps debunk that argument.


I have always loved learning about the archaeological support for the historicity of the Bible. It helps me defend my faith to others. In Jude 1:3, we are urged to “contend for the faith.” And in 1 Peter 3:15, believers are admonished to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have, but do so with gentleness and respect.”


And evidence that the Bible is historically accurate also confirms my own faith. During difficult times, when my faith is tested, remembering the evidence helps me with my doubt. In this way:


“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

 

While my faith does not depend on having all the evidence, I have concluded that my faith is not blind, meaning that I can defend it with evidence to myself and others. It is faith in concrete facts—past events, fulfillment of prophecies, and verification of Biblical events.


The visit to Magdala was indeed a faith-affirming event, but not just because of the archaeological evidence that I examined. Something else moved me, brought me to tears, and impacted me in a way I will never forget. Since Jesus taught throughout Galilee, at the synagogues, it is almost certain that He had frequented the very spot where I was standing. While I’ve been changed knowing that He walks with me every day spiritually, to walk physically where He once walked certainly left me shaken, and emboldened. How can I ever be the same?  

 Synagogue at Magdala

Synagogue at Magdala