Israel (State of Israel, Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل) is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The history of Israel is one of persecution, struggle, oppression and survival. Long before Jacob became Israel, since the ancient beginnings of Genesis, this tiny nation has been in a constant state of survival. From the moment of Abraham’s arrival in the land of Canaan, God’s people have been surrounded by enemies on all sides.
Tourism in Israel
There is no better time to visit Israel that now. Religious tourism, is an important industry in Israel, with the country’s temperate climate, beaches, archaeological, other historical and biblical sites, and unique geography also drawing tourists. Israel’s security problems have taken their toll on the industry, but the number of incoming tourists is on the rebound. In 2017, a record of 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, yielding a 25 percent growth since 2016 and contributed NIS 20 billion to the Israeli economy.
The History of Israel
Over the course of its history, time and time again, this band of 12 tribes has faced extermination, yet today stands among the worlds elite.
It is no coincidence that on the worldwide center stage is a country the size of New Jersey. Since the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, to the Caesars of Rome, Palestine has been caught in the middle of power struggles amongst empires.
The Cradle of Civilization
Born in the “Cradle of Civilization”, the ancient Jews struggled against all odds to survive. The Old Testament Ancient Near East was made up of Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the Zagros mountains located on the westernmost edge of Iran. It was here that the cultures and influences of three continents converged – Africa, Asia, and Europe. Together these three cultures each left its imprint on the history of Israel.
God’s chosen people have faced persecution from nearly every single empire that has dominated the earth from the beginning of time. From the slavery of the Ancient Egyptians, to the Holocaust of the Third Reich, how is it possible that this nation today stands so strong?
The answer can be found in the Old Testament. The first five books of the Bible make up the Jewish Torah, or, the Books of Moses. It is in these books that the history behind God’s people is revealed.
God made a covenant with Abraham that stands as true today as it did centuries ago. And God has consistently delivered over the course of time. His latest deliverance was one of no less significance than anything found in the Old Testament.
In 1948, for the first time since 586 B.C., a Jewish state was created. God had once again brought His people together in the promised land. From the ancient banks of the river Chebar, the voice of Ezekiel can be heard saying;
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:12
“If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18
“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” Acts 2:20
Largest Cities in Israel (from 2016 survey)
Throughout the history of Israel, to the present hour, conflict and war characterized the relationship with Gaza. King David repeatedly called Yahweh his rock, shield, fortress, deliverer, stronghold and Lord. May Yahweh continue to protect His inheritance as He did in the days of King David, especially during the current heightened conflict with the Gaza Strip.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 5:10
Religion in Israel
Israel comprises a major part of the Holy Land, a region of significant importance to all Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Bahá’í Faith. The religious affiliation of Israeli Jews varies widely according to a 2016 social survey in which 49% self-identify as Hiloni (secular), 29% as Masorti (traditional), 13% as Dati (religious) and 9% as Haredi (ultra-Orthodox). The city of Jerusalem is of special importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians as it is the home of sites that are pivotal to their religious beliefs, such as the Old City that incorporates the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.