Surprises in Israel
At our orientation evening before the start of every Koinonia House B.A.S.E. Tour, I will give a little speech to level set our group’s expectations. Our desire on each tour is to create an opportunity to experience the authenticity of the Bible in the Land of the Bible. In the interest of showing as many genuine sites as we can, I usually start off by saying, “If they built a church over it, nothing happened there.” Therefore, we do not spend much time visiting the traditional Christian sites. Instead, we spend most of our effort taking our explorers to the places of actual history that can be examined and experienced firsthand.
The Sherds of Shiloh
Before the construction of the Temple by Solomon in Jerusalem, the Tabernacle stood in Shiloh, which is located in the ancient region in Samaria, for a full 369 years.
The Book of Joshua tells us,
“Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there.”
While Shiloh’s fortunes varied over this time, it was the only place that served as a national religious center for the Jewish People during this period – the era of the Biblical Judges. Therefore, this would become the final resting place of the Tabernacle that led the Children of Israel during the forty-year wandering in the wilderness. After the loss of the Ark of the Covenant during the defeat of the army of Israel by the Philistines, Shiloh declined in importance and eventually was destroyed or abandoned. In fact, Psalm 78:60 tells us that God “forsook the Tabernacle of Shiloh.”
The first time I visited the proposed site of Shiloh, I was very skeptical as my first impressions led me to believe that much of what I was seeing was somewhat contrived. Honestly, there was not much to see except a visitor’s center, some ancient foundations, modern buildings, and a few diagrams describing what the city of Shiloh might have looked like. As we walked to the site with a guide, he mentioned that they knew this was most likely the real Shiloh because of the thousands of pottery sherds that were concentrated in this particular area.
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The Koinonia Mission and Tours
Koinonia House still has the same mission that began with Chuck Missler; we want to see more and more people engage in the serious study of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. When that happens, Christians can have direct contact with the Lord, and the result is koinonia, as in fellowship or communion, with Him. (That’s the goal, hence our name, Koinonia House.)
As a consequence of fellowship with God, a strong fellowship happens among believers. From the beginning, those of the Way, as it was called then, “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship [literally koinonia], in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Their fellowship was a genuine communion with one another.
Tours Fit with Study
One K-House ministry, in particular, touches on both study and fellowship, and that would be our tours of Israel. We recorded comments on the last trip from about 20% of tour members, and many touched on these components. Here are some personal reports about how the tour sparked a greater interest in Scripture:
“I came here with all these preconceptions, and they have been blown out of the water completely. I’m seeing stuff that I’d never even thought of, and it was put in context of the whole biblical story.”
D.R., New Zealand
“As I do Bible study, I’m going to have a map open so, when I’m reading things, I’m going to be more in tune to North, South, East, and West when these references are made. Then, I can look at the map and really figure out, “Did this take place where I’ve been thinking all these years that it took place, or did it take place in another one?”
“I didn’t expect all the Old Testament, and I didn’t expect how much it would trigger my desire to reread the Old Testament, which I’ve just finished. Seeing what I’ve seen and knowing what I’ve known, it’s just given me such a deeper interest in the whole Bible.”
“What I came away with is context. Before this, you read the Scriptures, or you hear people expound upon the Scriptures, you don’t have the context of having stood in those places, and seen the sites, know what the climate is like, know what the topology is like. Seeing the north country be so lush and green just completely blew me away.”
“I love the deep discussions that Bob and Ron brought out—especially at the tomb before communion.”
“I just finished a BSF lesson in a lot of the Old Testament and some of the New Testament, and this tour really made it come alive. I think it will make the Bible come a lot more alive to me now!”
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