As you read these words, I’m in Israel. My wife, sister, brother and his wife, two of our granddaughters, a host of friends and their friends . . . all 38 of us have literally walked into the pages of the Bible.
This is perhaps my 12th trip (I’ve lost count), but the impact, the emotional and spiritual shivers I always experience, have never lessened. It’s one thing to read the whole Bible cover to cover, as I do every year, but to actually walk around on the very sites of the events described so accurately in that book is truly soul shaking.
We’ll stand, physically, where David picked out the stone with which he felled the giant Goliath; we’ll climb up the rocky ravine to the cave of Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul; we’ll look out over the vast plain of Megiddo, where the cataclysmic battle of Armageddon will take place; we’ll buy sodas at Jericho, still inhabited, though without the wall that used to surround it; we’ll look up at Mount Nebo, from which Moses gazed at the Promised Land he’d never enter.
We’ll read aloud the Sermon on the Mount in the natural hillside amphitheater where Jesus first spoke those words; some of our group will be baptized in the Jordan River, close to the place where Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist; we’ll visit the hill called Golgotha, the “place of the skull” where He was crucified between two thieves . . . and we’ll also spend time looking into the hole in the wall where his body was laid, and celebrate the fact that it’s empty, as it has been since the stone rolled away at dawn on the third day.
All these things, and hundreds more, actually happened in Israel, just as the Bible recounts. And one of the most amazing things is the seemingly impossible promise God made to Abraham, an unknown sheep-herding nomad from Ur of the Chaldeans, and repeated to Isaac and Jacob: “In your seed (through your descendents) all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” How could this possibly be? But it has literally happened, and extravagantly!
I’ve written here before about the innumerable contributions Israelis have made to the world, in virtually every category — literature, chemistry, medicine, physics, economics, every science and technology, internet and communication, and efforts for world peace. Twenty-one percent of all Nobel Prize winners worldwide have been Jews! The list of achievements and astounding contributions is endless.
Every day, virtually every person in the civilized world benefits from these contributions, in areas relating to food, medicine, overall health, knowledge, security, great literature (including of course the Bible) and music — almost everything that we think of as “quality of life.” It has long been established, and is obvious on its face, that in every nation motivated and influenced by Judeo/Christian principles, the population has prospered and the culture flourished.
The reverse is also true: Societies and cultures that have rejected and even opposed those principles have lagged behind, even drastically suffered in all the same areas and quality of life.
And the pace has greatly quickened in the last several decades. Consider: Israel is the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, but its $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. It also has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U.S., Russia, and China), with over 250 F-16s and very powerful weapons to defend itself against the announced and very serious threats of some of those same neighbors.
Out of its own necessity, but also to help all peaceful societies, Israel designed the airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security. U.S. officials now look to Israel for advice and technology in handling airborne security threats. Fly anywhere safely lately? Thank Israel. (My family and I do that every day, sometimes every hour, here in Israel.)
Look further: Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to its population in the world; she produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin — 109 per 1,000 people — as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed. With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world, apart from Silicon Valley, USA.
How does this matter to you and me, and every other citizen in the world of the 21st century? The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis with Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel. Most of Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium MMX chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel, and both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel. Voice mail technology and AOL’s Instant Messenger were developed by young Israelis.
Medical technologies, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and treatments that offer healing in almost every area of disease and disability are just too many to list here. But let’s note that when Stephen Hawking, generally considered to be the most brilliant thinker on the planet, visited Israel recently, he shared his deep musings with scientists, students, and even the prime minister. But the world’s most renowned victim of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also learned something: Due to the Israeli ALS Association’s advanced work in both embryonic and adult stem-cell research, as well as its proven track record with neuro-degenerative diseases, the Israeli research community is well on its way to finding a treatment for this fatal disease affecting 30,000 Americans and tens of thousands worldwide!
Israel’s Givun-Imaging has developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill; it’s used to view the small intestine from the inside, to detect cancer and digestive disorders. And other Israeli researchers have developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood — an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. There’s also a revolutionary new acne treatment, the Clear Light device, that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct, without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.
An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale, fully functional solar electricity generating plant, in southern California’s Mojave Desert. What does that portend for an energy guzzling, oil stained world?
Truly, the accomplishments — too numerous and complex to list here — are staggering; I’ve only scratched the surface, and I’ve already noted the pace is accelerating exponentially. Israel is just getting started. Proportionately, no other country in the world can match her creativity and her massive contributions to the world’s standard of living — not even the United States.
And we haven’t even mentioned that the three largest religious faiths in the world are expecting the appearance soon of a Messiah, a Savior to all mankind, at least to those who will acknowledge and receive him, in ultimate fulfillment of the incredible promise made to Abraham, “Through your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.”
In this game we play on earth, called life, though many players have contributed great things, the MVP — the Most Valuable Player — has been clearly revealed.
It is Israel.
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