The Bible is God’s revelation in time, space, and culture. The words of the Bible came from the world of the Bible. Traveling to the Holy Land enables one to encounter the historical, spatial, and cultural contexts of the biblical world, and by entering the world of the Bible to better understand the words of the Bible.
Many Christians often say that travel to the Holy Land takes one’s Bible reading from black-and-white to full color, because a person can now envision the biblical stories within their physical settings. Travel to the Holy Land does enable one to enter the three-dimensional world of the Bible, but it should be more than that. Very few locations in the Holy Land truly enable a visitor to “walk where Jesus walked.” But walking where He walked should not be the goal; rather, by walking where He walked, we should understand His words better within their context, and therefore, we should walk better having traveled in His footsteps.
Travel to the Holy Land can strip many of our misconceptions and wrong interpretations from our Bible study. It can allow us to place the Bible within its physical, historical, and cultural contexts enabling us to understand better what it meant, so we can understand what it means for us today. Instead of importing our assumptions and conceptualizations into our Bible reading, it helps us to reframe how we understand the physical world of the Bible and how the biblical writers used it to relate their narratives and convey their messages. It allows us to understand the span of history contained in the Bible and see the stage where God entered time and space.
The Bible is not a book of philosophy or abstract theology. It belongs to its time and space, and it conveys God’s interactions with people in time and space. It also reflects peoples’ reactions to those encounters with God. All of this can come alive when one visits the Holy Land. Walking through ancient ruins and museums, one can interact with the material culture of the biblical world uncovered by archaeologists.
Travel to the Holy Land has the ability to transform our Bible study, to stimulate our ability to enter the world of the Bible to understand its words, to encounter God in the physical setting where He revealed His Word, and to challenge us through these experiences to grow in our discipleship and follow the Lord more obediently.
Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.