We made it. We’re in Tel Aviv!
I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in learning about these places we’ll be visiting! Specifically, why they’re important biblically. So, what can we know about Tel Aviv? Well, what we know today as Tel Aviv isn’t specifically in the Bible (Ezekiel 3:15 mentions “Tel-abib,” but this is obviously another city). What is in the Bible is Jaffa – which I think you had a quick bus tour of? Jaffa (Joppa in the Bible) is just south of Tel Aviv (walking distance).
Why is Joppa important? Plenty of reasons! Joppa was the city that Solomon received the timber from to build the temple (2 Chronicles 2:16). King Hiram had sent the timber by way of the Mediterranean from Lebanon. From Joppa, the Jewish workers would’ve brought the wood to Jerusalem (a similar action is seen in Ezra 3:7).
Joppa was also the city where Jonah went to hop on a ship to flee to Tarshish from God and his call (Jonah 1:3). I’m sure you’ve had lots of chances to look and take pictures of the Mediterranean today. Doesn’t the story of Jonah come alive when you imagine him hopping on a boat and taking off? It’s fascinating.
Probably most important is the significance of Joppa in relation to Peter. If you haven’t yet done so, read Acts 9:36-43 and 10:1-48. There are two amazing stories here. Firstly, there was a disciple named Tabitha that lived in Joppa who had died. After hearing about it, Peter travelled from Lydda (a 5-hour walk) to Joppa. Upon arriving, he prayed, turned to the body, and said, “Tabitha, arise” – and she did. This miracle “became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9:42)
The second story is even better. After Peter healed Tabitha, he remained in Joppa with a guy named Simon. Meanwhile, a Gentile named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea received a vision of an angel who told him to send some men to Joppa to bring Peter to him. As the men are travelling down (a 14 to 15-hour walk), Peter receives an incredible vision from God. Very simply, God illustrated to Peter in a vision that the gospel is no longer just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.
As I go to sleep tonight, I’m thinking about a lot of things. I’m thinking about the realism of the ancient city of Joppa. I’m thinking about the fact that two thousand years ago a Christian woman who was dead, was raised to life – and the whole city heard about it and many came to faith. I’m also thinking about the radical inclusion of the gospel. No person of any race on earth is denied the glorious grace of the gospel.
Now, I’m exhausted after a long day of travel – as you are too! Looking forward to tomorrow.
PS – If you want to be “biblically aware” when we visit the different sites tomorrow, be sure to pre-read some of these texts: for Caesarea, read Acts 10:1-48, 12:19-24, 23:23-35, 24:1-27, 25:1-27; for Mount Carmel/Muhraka, read 1 Kings 18:17-40, Song of Solomon 7:5; and for Megiddo, read Judges 5:19, 2 Kings 9:27, 2 Kings 23:28-30, Zechariah 12:11.