Everyone who heard about the trip to Israel rejoiced with me and encouraged me to go. My friend, Leo Hayes, gifted me with the roundtrip ticket to Israel. Another friend, John Reed, offered to accompany me and take care of all the logistics of the trip. Friends were sending me spending money and blessed me in many other ways. I would have had to be deaf and dumb not to be able to recognize the hand of God. Even on the very last day, our friends Mike and Charlene Walker sent a priority letter with a check for $300.
A number of people had prophetic insights about the trip and its importance. I shall share a few of these insights. There were others, but my e-mail program crashed, and I lost them before I could transfer them into the manuscript.
I’ve been thinking about your trip to Israel. It is easy for my mind’s eye to see you walking the streets of Jerusalem and other places in Israel. At first I thought about it as the land where Jesus walked, and in a real sense, His eyes will be seeing it again through yours.
Another friend sent an overnight letter and included chapter sixty-two from the Book of Isaiah. The chapter is from the Jewish Bible. An overnight letter is like writing a sentence in bold letters. It said to me, “Peter, pay attention; this is important.” God was trying to say to me, “Peter, I love you and I love Jerusalem.”
Today I read the news, and I am thinking about Israel as the land in which the powers of this world, the rulers of our age and their ambassadors, are so often focused. You are going to Israel as an ambassador, but as was the case with Jesus, you will have little appearance of greatness. Jesus did not minimize his authority or the monumental importance of His work, though:
The Queen of the South shall rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, someone greater than Solomon is here.
When the books are opened (Revelation 20:12), your trip to Israel will be recorded. Through your faith (and that of all who go with you in spirit) and the power of God, even your wallet-sized cards will survive the fire of God’s judgment, but many of the “important” works of the world’s dignitaries will be burned as wood, hay, and stubble (I Corinthians 3:12).
Jesus, looking toward Jerusalem said, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say,
“BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (Luke 13:35).
Your trip will be yet another opportunity for a remnant in Israel to bless one who is coming to them in the Lord’s name and I know your ministry will be a blessing there as it is here.
1. For Tziyon’s sake, I will not be silent; for Yerushalayim’s sake, I will not rest until her vindication shines out brightly, and her salvation, like a blazing torch.
Until the date for my departure was solidified and the airplane tickets were in my hands, an unfocused dread about the trip came upon me. I begged Jesus to shut the door if the trip was not His will, even if it was on the day of my departure. But He didn’t.
2. The nations will see your vindication, and all kings, your glory. Then you will be called by a new name which ADONAI himself will pronounce.
3. You will be a glorious crown in the hand of ADONAI, a royal diadem held by your God.
4. You will no longer be spoken of as Abandoned, or your land be spoken of as Desolate; rather, you will be called, “My-Delight-Is-In-Her,” and your land, “Married.” For ADONAI delights in you, and your land will be married.
5. As a young man marries a young woman, your God will marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, your God will rejoice over you.
6. I have posted watchmen on your wall, Yerushalayim; they will never fall silent, neither by day nor by night. You who call on ADONAI, give yourselves no rest;
7. and give him no rest till he restores Yerushalayim and makes it a praise on earth.
8. ADONAI has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: Never again will I give your grain to your enemies as food; nor will strangers drink your wine, for which you worked so hard;
9. but those who harvest the grain will eat it with praises to ADONAI; those who gathered the wine will drink it in the courtyards of my sanctuary.
10. Go on through, go on through the gates, clear the way for the people!
11. ADONAI has proclaimed to the end of the earth, “Say to the daughter of Tziyon, ‘Here, his reward is with him, and his recompense is before him.’”
12. They will call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of ADONAI. You will be called “Sought-After,” “City-No-Longer-Abandoned.”
I kept pleading with the Lord to give me His reassurance that the trip to Israel was truly His idea. I said in my child-like conversation with him, “Lord, can’t you tell and show me what is so important while I am sitting on my safe couch in Pagosa Springs?” He answered with total silence.
Ultimately, obedience saved the day. Obedience stopped me from being a wimp. Pride and fear had waylaid my life in the past. It was not going to happen again. During many crucial moments in the past, the Holy Spirit had reminded me of the words the prophet Samuel had spoken to Saul, the first king of Israel. They came to my remembrance again and gave me the strength to obey God:
“Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of ram to him. For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. And now because you have rejected the word of Jehovah, He has rejected you from being king.” (I Samuel 16: 22-23)
Obedience has been my sacrifice offering to Jesus ever since I said, “Yes, Lord.” Obedience took Jesus to Jerusalem and his crucifixion. It almost felt as if I was heading in the same direction, and in spite of my resolve, that unfocused dread would not go away.
On September 7th, five days before leaving our safe and secure harbor, I opened my Living Bible and read these words – underlined in red and dated – in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 50 and verse:
“Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do his will, and I know that I will triumph.”
I grabbed onto those words for dear life and quoted them to others. I was prompted, or more correctly, “compelled,” to compose the following letter and mail it to almost every person in my address file, close to 400 people.
September 7, 2005
There were several reasons I sent the letter to almost everyone in my address file. I wanted to know who would respond and encourage me to make the trip. I also wanted to know how many people in my address file would be interested to receive a copy of my trip report, “Back from Israel.” I kept track of these names, and when I wrote the brief two-page trip report, I only sent it to those who sent a positive reply to my first letter. In my second letter, I specifically asked those who would like a copy of the completed manuscript to let me know. I sent letters by regular mail to those who could not receive e-mail.
Friends and Family,
Before I leave for my trip to Israel, I am prompted, even compelled to place this letter into your mailbox. Yes, “compelled” is the right word. I am compelled to make this trip to Israel to connect with my ancient Jewish heritage; and as I get older and deeper into following in the footsteps of Jesus, I am compelled to do more and more unusual, even risky things.
Rebekah and I will be leaving Pagosa Springs on the 12th of September and return about the second week in October. I, Peter, will be flying with our friend John Reed to Tel Aviv from San Francisco while Rebekah gets pampered by John’s wife, Henrietta, in their new home near Sacramento. Rebekah will have her own guest cottage and be one of the first to sample it.
John and I have no agenda, no itinerary as yet besides having reserved a room in Tel Aviv the first night after arriving in Israel. We will be waiting on the Holy Spirit day by day where to go, what to see, where to eat, where to spend the night, and what to do next. It should be an interesting experience. Your prayers for guidance and protection would mean a lot to our wives and us. We want to thank the person who purchased my round trip airline ticket and others who have blessed me financially so that I can have some spending money while in Israel.
Until then and In Jesus’ Name,
I did not want the entire manuscript to go to anyone who might not read it or who might consider it as just another unsolicited piece of mail. In the wrong hands, the report could be used as a sledgehammer against the author and his family, my intentions misinterpreted and used against us. We all have learned that the media feasts on running people down and discrediting them. When they do, they have become an instrument of Satan who is called, “the accuser of the brethren.”
About ten per cent of the people in my e-mail address book and my regular address file are receiving a copy of the manuscript. I am pleased and encouraged. I ask every reader to use the same care and discretion I have. Please wait for the Holy Spirit to direct you. Do not share this manuscript indiscriminately. If you do, you will provoke poisonous vipers to come out of their dens and attack you and the author and his family.
There will be others who, in time, will request a copy of the manuscript. In my mind’s eye, I see these “others” as being currently so overloaded with things to read and do, that even a good report is burdensome. There is a time and season for everything. The time and season varies for each person.
On the morning of my departure from Pagosa Springs, angels worked overtime to reassure me. Our suit cases were packed. The gas tank had been filled the day before. All the necessary arrangements had been made for someone to take care of our home, houseplants, bills and dog, Bonnie. I had my passport, tickets and $1,500 in spending money. I also had a number of gifts for people I might meet in Israel – Scripture verses sandblasted into beautiful floor tiles.
Jesus wanted to leave no doubt in my mind that the trip was truly His idea, not mine. I stepped out the door on Monday morning, the 12th of September to give Bonnie one last chance to take her favorite walk to our cluster mailbox. There would be no mail since it was just a little after 7:00 AM. We went to the box. I touched it and pretended I was getting the mail and walked back to the house, a distance of maybe 300 feet.
As I turned into the driveway, a black car slowed down and came to a complete stop. I did not recognize the car but quickly recognized the driver as soon as he had rolled down the window. It was our friend and neighbor, Ben Johnson.
Ben shouted, “Hey, Peter, I hear you are going to Israel. When are you leaving?”
He parked his car on the side of the road, pulled out his checkbook, and wrote a check for $200. As he handed me the check, he said, “Peter, you are the most important person to make this trip to Israel.”
I called back, “In about ten minutes.”
“I am going to pull over for a minute. I have something for you,” he called back.
With that, he drove off and left me standing there speechless. Jesus had reassured me in a way that was unmistakable. The trip to Israel was His idea, not anyone else’s. I girded my loins and resolved not to allow fear to spoil the trip.