David Reagan - Why Take a Pilgrimage to Israel
I have been to Israel 45 times, and my spiritual life has been blessed and deepened by each visit. Before I went the first time, back in 1979, I was told that a pilgrimage to the Holy Land would transform the Bible for me from black and white into technicolor. And you know what? It did! Stay tuned.
David Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy! I want to welcome my colleagues, Tim Moore and Nathan Jones, on the set today. Nathan is our Internet Evangelist and Tim is our Associate Evangelist and my designated successor who is slated to take over the leadership of this ministry in September of 2021. Welcome fellows, glad to have you on the set today. Nathan has been to Israel with me many times, and since 2016, when my wife became too ill for me to travel, Tim has been the host of our Israel pilgrimages. Tim, how about welcoming everyone to Israel?
Tim Moore: I’m here at the Tel Aviv Airport in the ancient city of Lod, where millions of people come every year to stream to the land of Israel. Millions of Jews obviously come through this airport, returning to their ancient homeland. You know the prophet Isaiah said in chapter 43 starting in verse 5, “Do not fear for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up.’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” And the Lord has been fulfilling that prophecy. In just the last 100 years Jews have been streaming from every corner of the earth. Actually, He did have to say to the north and to the south, “Do not hold them back,” and we’ll talk more about that later. But at the turn of the 20th Century in 1900 there were only 40,000 Jews in all of Israel. At the end of World War II there were only 650,000 Jews in Israel. And today over half the Jews in the world live here in Israel; over six million. You know Scripture says that when the Jews come back to this land they’ll do so in disbelief, and surely enough they have. But the other promise of God was that He would miraculously deliver them to their ancient homeland, the land of Israel. One of the miracles is that other nations of the world let them return to Israel. Another miracle is that the Jewish people themselves have been motivated to come home to Israel. But through it all the promises of God have been fulfilled. We are witnessing prophecy fulfilled with our own eyes. Come to Israel. See for yourself all the Lord is doing in our own day and age.
David Reagan: Fellas, I cannot begin to tell you how many pastors over the years have said to me, “Why should I go to Israel? How would that benefit my ministry? How would that enrich my sermons in anyway?” What is your answer to that?
Tim Moore: Well, I think you already answered it to a degree, Dave, when you said it brings the Scripture itself from black and white to technicolor. It gives them an appreciation for the very land about which they are discussing, or talking, preaching, if they go to the Word of God. And it actually gives them insights into how He is fulfilling Bible prophecy in our own day and age.
David Reagan: Yeah. Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Well, to me I was amazed how many little things that you don’t realize when you pick up the Bible. You read about them taking days to go one place to another, but then you can stand in some valleys and it is only an hour drive in a bus. Or you go to say the Dead Sea and you see how dead it is, but then you read the story of how Lot choose that land because it was so beautiful. You are like? And it becomes an object lesson to the wrath of God.
Tim Moore: It certainly does.
Nathan Jones: You can go to Mount Carmel and you can look out over the Valley of Jezreel where Armageddon is going to be, and you realize in the future there is going to be a major, major battle here.
Tim Moore: Right here.
Nathan Jones: So, you can read it and you can have it intellectually, but I think what going to Israel does is it takes that, it makes it real, and it moves it into your heart and makes the Bible real.
David Reagan: One of the things it certainly does is give you a feel for distances. You know when it talks about Mary and Joseph going from Nazareth to Jerusalem, you don’t really have a feel for that distance until you go over there and see, wow, you mean they walked that distance?
Nathan Jones: Yeah, 80 miles.
David Reagan: It took three or four days to do that, and there were bandits along the way, and all that sort of things.
Nathan Jones: Lions, there used to be lions running around there.
Tim Moore: Obviously, we believe that the Word of God has the power to change lives.
David Reagan: Absolutely.
Tim Moore: To teach into people’s hearts. But when you go to Israel you experience the very things you’ve been reading about. And in my own experience many times I stood at a place in Israel and though, “I just belong here because I’ve read so much about it. I thought and studied so much, and now to see it.”
David Reagan: I had one of our pilgrims write me one time after he had been there and said, “You know I was just reading in the Bible this morning, and I read about Capernaum.” And he said, “It is no longer just a name on a page. I was there. I saw it. I know how it smells. I know where it is. It brings it alive to me.”
Tim Moore: Brings it alive, yes it does.
David Reagan: Another thing it does it impresses upon people the fact that all of these sites mentioned in the Bible are real sites. And even though some people who like to disparage the Bible over the years have said, “Well, those sites never existed.” I can remember–I can’t remember this, but I’ve read about it back in the 1800’s. I know I’m getting old. Back in the 1800’s there were scholars who said that Capernaum, and Bethsaida, and Khorazin didn’t even exist, that this is all myths. And then suddenly all of them were discovered. All of these places have been discovered, they are real places. You go to the Book of Mormon it talks about all these cities all over this continent, that have never been found because they were fairy tales.
Tim Moore: Well, and even in recent years, just since I’ve been leading groups to Israel some of the sites that we now visit are newly found.
David Reagan: That’s right.
Tim Moore: So, we go to Magdala because it was found just a few years ago and has become one of the places we stop.
David Reagan: Well, now, one of the points that I like to make is that when we take a group to Israel we spend a day in Tel Aviv. Ninety-percent or more of all groups get off the plane, get on a bus, they are dead tired, they ride for three or four hours to get to a hotel near Caesarea Maritime on the Sea, or up all the way to Tiberius. Why do we spend a day in Tel Aviv?
Tim Moore: We spend a day in Tel Aviv because Tel Aviv has great significance to the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy.
David Reagan: There you go.
Tim Moore: In 1948 when Israel became a new nation in one day, fulfilling the word of Isaiah, that happened in Tel Aviv. So, we go to the Independence Hall, if you will, of Israel where David Ben Gurion declared, “We are creating the modern state of Israel.”
David Reagan: And you are right there where modern Bible prophecy was fulfilled.
Tim Moore: Yes, you are.
Nathan Jones: And when you go to Tel Aviv, and you’ve probably experienced this since you go so often, is every time you go the city is bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And it is a testament to aliyah, the prophecy that Jesus would bring the Jews back to Israel again. I mean just the technological, and architectural advancements in just ten years, it will blow your mind. And it continues to grow.
Tim Moore: It continues to grow.
David Reagan: It helps you come to an understanding of a statement that the Israelis make about their major cities all the time because Tel Aviv is a very, very secular city.
Tim Moore: Oh, yes.
David Reagan: And, so, the Israelis say you go Tel Aviv to play. You go to Haifa to stay. You go to Jerusalem to pray.
Tim Moore: Yes.
David Reagan: And boy, Haifa is beautiful. You go there you want to stay. Jerusalem you pray.
Tim Moore: Well, and there’s other aspects of that night’s visit there, the stay that we have in Tel Aviv. We also go to Joppa, or Jaffa which already harkens back to the Old Testament.
David Reagan: Yes, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Tim Moore: Suburb of Tel Aviv, that is where timbers were brought to create and build the temple. Obviously it also played into the New Testament; that is where Peter went and stayed at the home of Simon the Tanner. And it also plays into the modern history of Israel. So, really there is an overlapping of the old and the new even in Bible.
David Reagan: Very much so, Jaffa is one of the oldest cities in the world. And Tel Aviv the very first city, a house was not built until the early 1900’s.
Tim Moore: Yes.
David Reagan: And yet today it is a huge metropolis.
Tim Moore: Crazy.
Nathan Jones: And you are going want to see the little fountain with the whale. I mean after all that is where Jonah embarked as he tried to run away from God.
Tim Moore: Yes, another part of what happened at Joppa.
David Reagan: That’s right. Well, I think the problem is that most groups know nothing, or little or nothing about Bible prophecy, so they see no significance to Tel Aviv. And they just want to, where was Jesus, you know?
Nathan Jones: It is where the airport is.
David Reagan: But, boy you go to that Independence Hall, it is really something.
Tim Moore: It really is, and I think you just hit on an aspect of what our pilgrimage trip is all about, and that is emphasizing Bible prophecy and its fulfillment even before our very eyes. Dave, you said one time, a gentlemen said to you, “He wished he could live in Bible times.” And our answer is, “You do. You do live in Bible times.”
David Reagan: We are living in the Bible times. That’s right.
Tim Moore: If you want to see the fulfillment of Bible prophecy come to Israel with us and witness it with your own eyes.
David Reagan: Well now, one of the points that we try to make over and over is that our trips to Israel are not tours.
Tim Moore: No.
David Reagan: They are pilgrimages. Now, what do we mean by that?
Tim Moore: Well, they are not tours, and really they are not vacations either. So, when we go to Israel I tell people you are going on a spiritual adventure, or a spiritual journey. We are pilgrims following in the footsteps of Jesus, as is the title of our primary trip that we take. But you are not a tourist, and we are not there just to go to tourist sites. And sometimes tours kind of tend toward that element, we are there to understand what the Bible is showing us, and what we can gleam from our reading of Bible history in the modern day.
David Reagan: And that means that every site that we go to, when the guide gets through talking about the historical nature of it, you take over and you start talking about the spiritual importance.
Tim Moore: Exactly.
David Reagan: The biblical importance, and the future importance if there is any.
Tim Moore: Yes, sir, exactly so.
David Reagan: Yeah, so it is truly a spiritual pilgrimage.
Tim Moore: It is.
David Reagan: And people often are drawn much closer to the Lord than they ever have been before, I tell you.
Tim Moore: Well, and actually when we are preparing to go to Israel we always emphasize, we want our pilgrims to be prayerful for a period of months, preparing their hearts. We want them to read the Bible itself, and other books so that they are prepared for what the Lord is going to show them.
David Reagan: I always tell them to get some exercise too.
Tim Moore: And get a lot of exercise, yes.
David Reagan: Because Israel is all, up and down, up and down. I tell people the Bible says look up your redemption is drawing near. I say in Israel if you look up your redemption is immediate because you are on the ground, on the concrete.
Tim Moore: You’re falling down, yes, sir.
David Reagan: Well, very quickly what are some of your favorite places in Israel.
Tim Moore: Oh, I have a favorite each and every day. I love going to Mount Carmel where Elijah battled with the prophets of Baal. One of my favorite places has to be the Mount of Olives, because standing on the Mount of Olives you can look down upon the Eastern Gate, you know this is where the Lord is going to return, where His foot is going to touch ground. And so, you can envision all the things that are going to transpire in that very location.
David Reagan: Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Tiberius. There is something so restful as being on the Sea of Galilee. And what’s surprising is how small it is. It is only 8×13 so at night you can see the lights doting all around it.
David Reagan: You can understand why Jesus loved that area so much.
Tim Moore: Yes, you can.
Nathan Jones: It is so peaceful.
David Reagan: It is so beautiful.
Nathan Jones: So, peaceful.
David Reagan: And I would have to agree with you, of all the places in there I think the Mount of Olives. When I stand there, and I look out over the Temple Mount I understand why the Bible says this is the center of the universe. This is what it is all about. This is where Jesus came. It is where He is returning. You can just feel it that this is a supernatural place. It is really something. So, of course the other place that is very special to me is the Garden Tomb.
Nathan Jones: Oh, yeah.
David Reagan: And so, okay, folks we are going to take a break here and we will be back in just a moment.
Tim Moore: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our discussion about experiencing the Holy Land.
David Reagan: Tim, you mentioned the Holy Land.
Tim Moore: I did.
David Reagan: I was mentioning that one time in a presentation and a man jumped up and confronted me and said, “Why do you call that the Holy Land? There is nothing holy about it.”
Tim Moore: Well, it is actually the Word of God that calls it the Holy Land. If we go to Zechariah chapter 2, verse 12 it says, “The Lord will possess Judah as His portion in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem.” So, it is the Word of God that says.
David Reagan: Only real estate on planet earth that is referred to as the Holy Land.
Tim Moore: Only place in the world.
David Reagan: The word holy means set apart. So, what does this mean, the Holy Land?
Tim Moore: Well, obviously the Holy Land is not holy in the sense that right now it is sanctified, everyone there is holy, or the policies of the government are holy. But we know that God has selected and set it apart. He has chosen the Jewish people. He has declared that will be their homeland forever, and so it is set apart for His purpose, for His people. And we know that’s where He is going to come and reign in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, so it is set apart for that purpose most certainly.
David Reagan: It also says that in eternity God is going to come and dwell with us in a New Jerusalem.
Tim Moore: In a new Jerusalem, yes. So, it is holy because it is set apart for Him.
David Reagan: It also says that it is not only holy, it says that it is sort of the center of the nations. And it certainly was at that time when all the nations came through there. But even today, I mean this tiny little country only 300 miles long, 75 miles wide and something happens there it is on the headlines of all the papers.
Tim Moore: Yes.
Nathan Jones: Center of the universe. That’s what God calls it.
David Reagan: There you go. Well, let me get to the next question here and that is, Nathan, why don’t you do it?
Nathan Jones: Sure, because after seeing that commercial about the Battle Tour obviously there has been lots of battles in Israel; ancient battles all the way up to modern battles. And so, we have a separate pilgrimage, just for, what you call the Battle Tour. Do you have to have a real big interest in the military? Is it just military battles? What’s the purpose of that tour?
Tim Moore: No, the Battle Tour, really you don’t have any interest in the military. As a matter fact when I describe this to my wife, who really has no interest in the military, she said that sounds fascinating to me.
Nathan Jones: I think it’s fascinating.
Tim Moore: Well, obviously for many of our pilgrims who have gone to Israel before, sometimes two, or three or four times, we’re always trying to keep that experience fresh. And that’s why we have new sites that we go to, new places that have been discovered, and people can experience and keep the regular Footsteps of Jesus Pilgrimage fresh. But I realize some folks would like to have a different kind of themed experience. And so, throughout Israel there are battle sites from the Old Testament, quite frankly from the New Testament, obviously some of them are spiritual battles.
Nathan Jones: Yeah, what are some of those, that make it different from our basic footsteps tour?
Tim Moore: Well, on the Battle for Israel Tour for instance we go to the valley where David fought Goliath.
Nathan Jones: Oh, Valley of Elah.
Tim Moore: Valley of Elah, and you stand in one place and read from Scripture the description and geography and you can recognize I am within a stones throw of where those took place.
David Reagan: And everybody always wants a stone.
Tim Moore: Everybody.
David Reagan: And it’s been picked clean of stones.
Tim Moore: Well, I think they bring in new stones every few years just to replenish them in the brook that is still there.
David Reagan: Right.
Tim Moore: But you read the geographic description and you think, I am here. And it is a demonstration over the course of that entire pilgrimage that God has provided and preserved His people throughout time, in the Old Testament, through the New Testament, in the modern era. We do talk about some of the modern battles that Israel has endured proving that the miraculous providence of God delivering the Jewish people in 1967, in 1973, obviously in the Wars of Independence that started in 1948, they prove that only God through His miraculous providence could preserve and protect His people. And that’s the same thing He has promised us, He will preserve and protect us. And so really it is another demonstration of God’s ability to provide for us and keep His promises. And we also emphasize the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in those battles yet to come.
David Reagan: Oh, yeah, I was going to say looking to the future.
Tim Moore: Yes, always looking to the future as well.
David Reagan: You know that is one of my favorite places in Israel is to go up on top of the monastery that is on top of Mount Carmel.
Tim Moore: Yes.
David Reagan: And look out over the Valley of Armageddon, the Valley of Jezreel, wow. What a battlefield!
Tim Moore: And all the things that have transpired there, yes, sir. Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision.
David Reagan: Multitudes in the Valley of Decision, yeah.
Nathan Jones: When you read about the Old Testament how God would miraculously save them when there were overwhelming forces against them. And then you see the battles today where it seems like it is a 20:1 ration of enemies against the Jews dying, versus Jews. Stories where missiles were about to hit them and they swerve off, or planes suddenly crashing.
Tim Moore: Yes.
Nathan Jones: I mean God said that He’s got Michael the Archangel protecting Israel.
Tim Moore: Yes.
Nathan Jones: And clearly as you go around Israel that becomes very evident.
Tim Moore: There is a little overlap to our existing pilgrimage because we are still going to the Mount of Olives.
David Reagan: Yeah, sure.
Tim Moore: We are still going to go to Mount Carmel. There are few sites that do overlap, but there are a lot of sites that are new and different.
David Reagan: Well, you know as a retired colonel from the Air Force I am sure you are always fascinated by that Air Force base in the Valley of Armageddon that is underground. All you can see is the runways and suddenly a plane just comes out from underground, or it lands and it is immediately underground.
Tim Moore: Yes, sir, I am fascinated by that. We actually go to the Air Forces Museum if you will.
David Reagan: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Tim Moore: There in Beersheba. And we talk about some aspect of the Air Force. Obviously I do have a great affinity. My own doctoral paper if you will for the Air Force War College dealt with Israel’s 1967 air battle which is still being studied as a classic example of a perfect air battle.
David Reagan: Now, not only have you come up with the innovative idea of the Battle Tour which has proved so successful, but you also came up with another idea called the Millennial Kingdom Scholarship. Where did that idea come from? And what is it?
Tim Moore: The Millennial Kingdom Scholarship is a program designed to invigorate our outreach to young people. A few years ago, one of our pilgrims, who happened to be one of our board members had to cancel at the last minute due to health reasons.
David Reagan: Yeah, he got sick.
Tim Moore: But the trip had already been paid for. And I felt terrible that his money was already invested. He said, “Take someone else. Bless them and take someone. Matter of fact take a young person.” And had paid for two trips. So, we took two young men on very short notice, and it was such a blessing to them. And really they were such a blessing to the rest of our group that it created an idea. And there are other programs that have kind of sprouted up in recent years, but we decided what a tremendous opportunity to pay it forward and to allow our supporters, our Prophecy Partners and others to invest in the next generation of young fruit bearers. And so, we have a scholarship program where we go through a list of nominees and we select young people who will gain from this experience the ability to share with their peers what they have seen, what they have experienced in Israel. And will begin to understand all that is going to come to pass in their own lifetime. And so, we have a number of people who have invested. And basically, what we do is we tell a young person who is selected, a young millennial.
David Reagan: Like between the ages of?
Tim Moore: Between the ages of 18-29, basically. And we tell them we will pay the lion’s share of the cost for you to go to Israel. There is a small co-payment because we want them to have some skin in the game.
David Reagan: But it is very small, yeah.
Tim Moore: But it is very small. They have to get Dallas where we depart, and then from that point on everything is covered. And the blessing that this becomes is only for that young person but having a group of young people. This next June when we travel, this coming June I’m going to have four Millennial Kingdom Scholars.
Nathan Jones: Wow.
Tim Moore: And I expect them to invigorate the rest of our group. So, really it is a blending of young people, and our more experienced pilgrims and sharing their wisdom and maturity. And so, it has become a great avenue for again, reaching into the next generation.
David Reagan: Wow. So, we need not only applicants for that, but we also need donors for it.
Tim Moore: We certainly do. And quite frankly if you are watching this program today and you have wondered how could I give to the future generation? How could I invest in those who will be following along? Well I use an ancient Jewish proverb to say, if you think the world is going to end tomorrow, plant a tree today. And that’s not just a literal tree, although that is a good idea, it means to raise up young fruit bearers. And so, if the Lord stays His coming, we want young people to continue to share this message with a generation that is straying by leaps and bounds. But as we raise up young fruit bearers we will continue to emphasize the soon return of Jesus Christ. So, if you are watching this program and wonder how you could pay it forward you can give to the Millennial Kingdom Scholarship. Obviously, we look for young people to be nominated. But we would welcome your involvement, your partnering with this program to again pay it forward and raise up young fruit bearers for the Lord.
David Reagan: Well, Tim as you were talking a lot of things were going through my mind. The memories of the 45 trips I’ve made over there. And one of the things that I thought about was the fact that in the 1980’s when I’d take groups over there was no place to baptize them in the Jordan River. We would just pull over to the side of the road and we would pull all the curtains down on the bus and all the men would get off and the women would change clothes. And we’d go down and we’d baptize them while the men would get on they would change clothes. And I’m down in the river waiting for everybody. And by the time I’d baptized everybody, and I’m not kidding, I could not move because I had sunk down in the mud so far. They would have to throw a rope and pull me out of the Jordan River.
Tim Moore: I could imagine.
David Reagan: Today it is quite different. Tell them how different it is today.
Tim Moore: Today there is a beautiful baptismal site, just south of the Sea of Galilee.
David Reagan: Yeah, just where the river comes out.
Tim Moore: The river comes out. It is beautiful. You talk about picturesque, it is one of the most beautiful places.
Nathan Jones: Yardenit.
Tim Moore: Yardenit, yes. And we baptize there. And the beautiful thing, as well as just the vision is to see people from all over the world.
David Reagan: All over the world.
Tim Moore: Of tribes and tongues and nations.
David Reagan: They have changing rooms. They have gowns.
Nathan Jones: Hey, they have water goulashes too. So, when you’re sinking into the mud.
David Reagan: In fact, tell them what happened to you the last time you were there, the couple.
Tim Moore: Last time I was there as we were baptizing our pilgrims a young lady who happened to be Spanish speaking came and asked if she could be baptized. She spoke very little English and I had the privilege of baptizing her. And then her husband who spoke no English, communicated that he wanted to be baptized. And I’ll probably never see this young couple again, until we meet again in Heaven, but what a privilege it was to be a part of the Lord’s family all around the world there at Yardenit.
Nathan Jones: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our discussion of experiencing the Holy Land. We would like to share with you a few testimonials from pilgrims who have gone to Israel with us recently.
Kate Howard: The visit that we had to the Sea of Galilee I absolutely loved. It was early in the morning; the sun was coming up. The weather was perfect. You could look around you and see the hillsides of where the people would have been gathered to hear Jesus preach. You could see them coming out with their fishing boats from the shore. You could just sense the whole surroundings. You weren’t trapped by our modern conveniences. You were in a fishing boat with the wind blowing on you, and it was just, it was just beautiful.
Scott Leach: The highlight is being where Jesus was, or in the proximity of where we are very confident that He was. It is almost impossible to not just feel extremely moved by it, to feel the presence of God with you. It is really an awe inspiring thing.
Toni Leach: Definitely being baptized in the Jordan, it’s just a moment, just being baptized where Jesus had been baptized. And I love the Sea of Galilee. The boat ride over, and then we’re interacting with the people on the boat, and they are showing us their dance. And they raise the American flag. Just being there were Jesus had been, it is like overwhelming.
Chris Harrod: One of the areas that we went was the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall. Going there the men went to their location, and the women went to their side. And seeing most of the men coming off that wall with tears coming down their face, that was my moment.
Missy Harrod: I’ve had a lot of special moments. Just seeing all of it. I mean just the Garden of Gethsemane and the Eastern Gate. And the place where you walk over the stones where Jesus walked, I thought that was pretty special, and how we all sang there.
David Reagan: Well, folks that’s our program for today. I hope it has been a blessing to you, and I hope the Lord willing that you will be back with us next week. Until then this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”