Letters from Israel: Letter #1 Shiloh

Thanks to Lindsay B. for today’s post!

As a homeschooling family, we have always been on the lookout for interesting extras that we could bring into our home to help the children in the subjects that they are learning. A couple of years ago we discovered a subscription service whereby the children would receive letters from a fictional character introducing them to a different country or region of the globe each month. But as a Christadelphian parent we thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were letters written about God’s land, the land of the Bible, the land of Israel, for our children to read and learn about the backdrop to all the wonderful narratives in scripture?

Our family was blessed to experience the land of Israel last summer and we were left with a great longing to share the rolling verdant green hills of Galilee, the soaring heights of the Hermon range and down to the lowest depths of the Dead Sea rift valley with the children in our ecclesia. Having art supplies at hand in the cupboard, paints were dug out, brushes found and painting began!

“The land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven; a land which Yahweh thy God careth for; the eyes of Yahweh thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
Deuteronomy 11:11-12

Learning about the geography of Israel, and the changes that will take place after the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the establishment of the Kingdom has greatly helped our vision of the coming age. We long for that day when by grace we and our families will enter into the Promised Land to inherit it. Having our children pick a place where they want to live, able to picture it and its location in relation to places in the Biblical text has been a faith-building exercise.

“It shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD.”
Ezekiel 47:22-23

We have noticed since our travels that the Bible readings have come alive as we can now picture the locations mentioned in scripture. Though Israel is a very small sliver of land, it possesses a vast array of different landscapes and geography. Verses which describe the people of Israel going UP to keep the feasts in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-42) come to life when you realize that you must literally go up into the mountains of Israel to reach Jerusalem, whether from the coastal plain that borders the Mediterranean Sea or through the Jordan valley. Indeed, even sitting in a car, you can hear the gears change as you suddenly climb up into the mountains of Israel towards the city where God has chosen to place his name (Deuteronomy 12:5). Too often the pictures that have been imprinted on my mind as a child looking at picture books have proved false – yes there is desert in the south, but the Galilee area is lush and overflowing with beautiful flowering vines, and hills lined with orchards and fruitful farms. The area of the mountains of Israel – so vital to those latter-day prophecies in Ezekiel, roll along with wildflowers in the spring, bursting with vineyards and the occasional snow in the winter. Bro. Leen Ritmeyer’s classes, “The Power of Bible Places and their Lessons for Us”, have helped to open our eyes to the lessons that God built into the places throughout the land in the actual geography itself. We would highly recommend them!

These talks can be found by searching “Leen Ritmeyer” at Christadelphian Bible Talks.

Unless one knows where to look, the news of discoveries in archeology that continue to prove the inspiration and truth of scripture, too often get buried in the gruesome headlines of today. Everywhere you step in the land yields up pottery fragments, homes, inscriptions, seals, etc that thrill the Bible student. Our plan is to include at least one of these in each letter to show the link between these finds and the events in scripture that they validate. Archaeology is a vital tool in the Bible student’s belt of arsenal of evidence!

These letters are amateur at best and the idea of them going out past our small group wasn’t a thought at the beginning of this venture. However, when Covid-19 struck the globe and seeing so many of our children, precious olive plants, being forced into isolation away from Sunday School, Youth Group, and even sadly Bible school, our hearts were pricked. We prayerfully decided to offer them for anyone to download and use. We only ask that they not be altered. It is our hope and prayer that they will bring not only a smile to your children’s faces but will also cultivate in them a love of the scriptures, as they see that the proof for the Bible is there being pulled out of the dust, and a love of God’s land (Eze 38:16, Joel 1:6, Joel 3:2).

“Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2

The letters are each written in journal language from an energetic and slightly hyper Auntie in the truth – myself. Years ago when teaching at Bible school someone, I can’t even remember who started calling me “Crazy Auntie Lindsay” and it stuck! Any children that I have had the privileged of teaching know me as such. In writing these letters, instead of making up a fictional character, we decided it best to use a real person that most of the children locally know. Our travels in Israel and events that happened, places that we visited, make up the storyline of the letters so that they are real. To keep them authentic when traveling to an area that we did not have the privilege to visit (camel farm near Beer Sheva), we will talk to brethren and sisters that have been there to use their knowledge.

The following are some practical ideas for you to take and run with:

  • We would recommend that you print out the letters in colour  (you can send them to a local business such as Staples for printing if needed)
  • Package them in an envelope and print out a picture of Israeli stamps to glue onto it, these can be found online.

Ideas for delivery to your child/ren:

  • Hide the envelope somewhere and give hints from the Bible to facilitate the search and find until they reach the final clue directing them to the envelope, a favourite in our house!
  • Give the letter to open during Family Bible Readings, especially if it links with the daily portion.
  • Arrange to deliver them to the Sunday School Students in their mailboxes. Take care that it does not go out with mailman
  • Place it under their plate at mealtime to discover when they clear their spot.
  • Gather some Bible books on narratives that take place where the letter takes them and have reading time, maybe with a treat!

Over the next 8 weeks, there will be a letter distributed through Magnify Him Together and we plan to continue to do these after the summer on approximately a monthly basis to any that would like to continue to receive them. May Yahweh continue to watch over our families and lead us all Zionwards (Psalm 84:5) in the hope of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming Kingdom.

This is the first “Letter from Israel” – on location in Shiloh: Letter from Israel: Shiloh PDF.

 

“Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”
Psalm 84:5 (RV)

 

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