Last fall I led a group on a Holy Land tour, but I should qualify the word led. My job was to lead devotions, encourage travelers, and provide biblical insights along the way. But our group also needed a leader who knew the customs, language, and traffic patterns of Israel and Jordan. We needed a guide! Fortunately, we had well-qualified guides who made our journey safe, fun, and educational.
In Jordan we walked through a 3,900-foot gorge (the Siq) at ancient Petra, a city carved out of red sandstone. One side of the path was paved with rough stones laid during the time of Christ, while the other side was paved with smooth modern concrete.
Our guide quipped, “You can walk on the 2,000-year-old path or the 12-year-old path. It’s your choice!” I wondered, Do we “ask for the ancient paths” (Jeremiah 6:16), or take whatever road seems easier?
In a Bethlehem gift shop, our guide advised us to buy authentic olive wood, not waste money on knock-off trinkets made in other countries. Likewise, competent spiritual leaders help us distinguish godly values from cheap, misleading counterfeits.
Micah 6:8 mentions some authentic spiritual treasures. A Christian woman I know considers it her favorite verse in the Old Testament. There was a time in her life when serving God seemed like a burden. The demands of being a mother, a minister’s wife, and an active church member made her feel like God required more than she could give. Exhausted and overwhelmed, she almost gave up. Then one day in church, the worship leader introduced a song that refreshed her soul like spring rain after a long drought. The words of the song came from Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” My friend thought, With God’s help, I can do those things! By guiding her toward the timeless values of justice, mercy, and humility, the Lord refreshed her to continue on the journey of faith.
Our tour group visited the mountaintop fortress of Masada, where in the early 70s AD a determined band of Jewish zealots held off advancing Roman legions before the zealots decided to choose death over slavery. On that hilltop I asked myself, What am I willing to die for? Many today are passionate about politics and money. Are we zealous for things that matter most to God? Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
When we arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, ancient Jericho, and other sites, our guide would step off the bus and say enthusiastically, “C’mon. Let’s go.” Our job was to follow him, just as the first-century disciples followed Jesus.
We toured the remains of a first-century synagogue in Magdala, northwest of the Sea of Galilee. It was easy to picture the Lord teaching there, for we know “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues” (Matthew 4:23). A famous woman considered Magdala her hometown. Jesus freed Mary Magdalene from demon possession and later she became a witness of his resurrection. She needed the Lord to guide her, and so do we.
“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end” (Psalm 48:14).