I just got back from Israel, my seventh trip to the Holy Land.
Why do people call it that? Well, most of human history is defined by that place. All of creation is culminated in that place. The end of all things earthly will happen in that place. Jesus died for you in that place and will come again to reign from that place.
In this picture, I am standing on the hill of Beth Shan. Two significant events happened here about a thousand years apart. Saul, the first king of Israel, thought he knew more than God and took matters into his own hands. Because of that he was killed and hung on the walls of the city with his three sons. Historians say the Philistines killed him but reality is was pride. The Philistines were simply the instrument to his own demise.
Below the hill, I am pointing at the city, now Roman, a thousand years later. The Empire demanded allegiance to their leader, the emperor, who claimed he was a deity. As you see in the picture, it too lies in ruins. Historians say the Muslims destroyed the Roman occupation of the Holy Land, but like the Philistines they were simply the instrument. Pride destroyed Rome.
Going on a pilgrimage through the Holy Land is a stark lesson in humility. Whenever you come across a place that is in ruins, you can connect it to pride. Though many writers will tell you of the instrument that was used to bring the ruin, few will point you to the root.
If this is true, and it is, consider these, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Proverbs 11:2), “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18), “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
How can we learn from history? One simply needs to stand at Golgotha, the place of the skull, and embrace Jesus. The Cross that killed Jesus is no longer there. But wait, it was not the Cross that killed Him. That was merely the instrument. It was my pride.
A few hundred yards away is the Empty Tomb. The rock has been destroyed and some of the wall has been rebuilt after an earthquake, but the tomb is real – a beautiful reminder that God can do anything.
Easter is coming. In a few weeks, we will celebrate the joy of life after death. When death and destruction is taking place in our lives we have two options: battle the instrument that is being used to kill us and be destroyed, or humble ourselves and receive life. Read the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial (Luke 22-23). You will see the option He took and the victory He won. Which option you choose is the only thing that matters. For no matter how great an empire we build, it too, without Christ, will fall.
The Holy Bible is a book on relationships, your relationship with God and your relationship with people. There will be many different instruments, but the thing that will destroy those relationships is pride. I am excited to continue the series “Connection Issues”. This is one you will not want to miss.
P.S. Get your ticket for The Greater Give Dinner & Auction. This is my favorite event of the year! We get to celebrate together and resource God’s love around our community and world! Click here.