It becomes real
Trip Start Apr 26, 2009
50Trip End Sep 01, 2009
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The first visit this morning was to Jaffa. Jaffa was the port city for a long time. Today it's a district of bustling, modern Tel Aviv. There's not much concrete to see in Jaffa, but you discover that Jaffa, this little locale was the place God made the point that his love was for ALL people. First Jonah was sent from here to warn the Gentiles in Ninevah to repent--a task he did not intend to undertake. Then, just yard away in another time, Peter visits Simon the Tanner (Acts 10) and has his vision in which he realizes that "God shows no partiality." Even then, it was a difficult concept for people. Frankly, I'd be thrilled if I knew God loved me more--that I was somehow special. But in terms of God's love, there rally is no partiality. Ninevites, tanners, centurions, disciples, you and I, Israelis and Arabs: God loves all of us.
Then we visited Caesarea in the afternoon. This is Caesarea Maritima, not Caesarea Philippi further north. It was popular to dedicate a city to Caesar to curry his favor. This amazing city built by King Herod in the last century BCE had the second largest port in the empire. It gave Jews from all over access to Herod's newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. But it was also the site of brutal treatment of Jews and Christians. Herod built this city as a Gentile city in the Jewish state. What more fitting setting then, that the faithfully Jewis apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, begins his journey to his death here by angering the Jews and appealing to Caesar for adjutication (a right of Roman citizens)?
I love that this ancient site is simultaneously preserved and used. It's a huge place with layers of ancient cities: Herod's original, a Byazntine layer, and a Crusdaer layer mostly built by Louis IX (St. Louis) of France. When we were there, there were lots of tourists, but also a wedding and a concert getting set up. The large theater has been restored and had modern chairs set up for another event that either had just taken place or would soon.
Just one day here, and I can tell you, Israel is an amazing place. It's holy and set apart, modern and bustling, religious and secular, universally appealing and yet distinctive and exclusive.