The month of February 2023 is indeed exceptional. In my experience, I had the greatest overseas trip of my life as I went to Israel on a pilgrimage tour with my local church. There, I witnessed the Holy Bible come to life at the many sites in the Holy Land. As such, I am grateful to the Lord and will always be faithful to Him.
On another significant matter, February 2023 also marked the 65th year of Israel-Philippines friendship which was celebrated a few weeks back according to a news article by the Philippines News Agency (PNA). For the newcomers reading this, Israel and the Philippines have a deep relationship with each other and lots of cooperation has been done.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…
The Philippines and Israel celebrated 65 years of friendship on Sunday, marking an already warm and historic relations with increased interactions in the areas of agriculture, commerce, and development.
In the past 12 months alone, the two nations signed various deals — from a memorandum of understanding to initiate joint activities on trade and investment to a cooperation agreement in technological innovation, research, and development.
The “milestone” Philippine-Israel Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was also concluded in June 2022, signaling the two nations commitment to create environment for investments in water management, agriculture, cybersecurity, defense industry, smart transportation, manufacturing, and diamond industry development, among others.
Envisioning an even closer economic relations in the years beyond, Israel Ambassador to Manila Ilan Fluss sees the field of innovation as an area the two countries could further develop.
“My vision is that we will establish bridges of innovation in technology between Israel and the Philippines,” he told the Philippine News Agency in a recent interview.
“For this, we’re working a lot on both on two levels, one on the startup community and how we can get an exchange between startups and to get Philippine startups enter into Israel,” he added.
As an innovation hub, Fluss believes Israel could support the Philippines in building a stronger startup industry through training and guidance in “internationalizing” Filipino startups.
In 2022, there were over 6,000 startups active in Israel, making the country a world leader in startups per capita.
Israeli firms, on the other hand, could enter the Philippines and provide solutions that address challenges unique to the country.
“[The Philippines] could help Israeli startups who are usually focused more on the developed markets, enter into the Philippines, adjusting what they’re doing to the challenges in the Philippines which are different than Europe and the United States,” Fluss said.
“So we want to help them diversify and enter the Philippine markets. So this is a very major effort that we are doing in the embassy,” he added.
Israel and the Philippines’ friendship is founded on deep historical and moral connections, with Manila opening its doors to 1,300 Holocaust refugees in late 1930s even before Israel became a state.
The Philippines was one of the 33 countries to vote in favor of a United Nations resolution in 1947 that created the State of Israel.
65 years of not only friendship but strong cooperation and commitments between Israel and the Philippines clearly shows that the two nations were chosen by God to be together. Be thankful to God for all the breakthroughs and the continuing progress of Israel-Philippines ties. Israel-Philippines ties are essential!
To my fellow Filipinos reading this, I encourage you to accept the truth that Israel is the land God designated specifically for the Jewish people (read Genesis 35:10-12) and His command must be followed by all. If you want to be blessed further by the Lord, do so by loving and blessing the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3). I did my part when I was in Israel.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official social media account of the subject business is also used. Take note that this is not a sponsored article at all. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Welcome back, readers! This is the 4th chapter of my ongoing series of articles about the holy nation of Israel with recollections about the experiences and discoveries I had during the pilgrimage tour I joined with my local church (hosted by its strategic partner Behold Israel). To see my previous Israel tour articles, click here, here and here.
In this latest edition of my Israel 2023 series, I share with you my observations and captured images about our group tour of Nazareth Village which is an open-air museum located in the outskirts of the biblical city of Nazareth. Yes, this is indeed the very same place that was the hometown of our Lord and Savior Jesus and the Holy Bible has records about it.
Built on ancient agricultural land that includes the area’s last remaining first-century wine press, Nazareth Village was designed to fully immerse visitors into the first-century with an actual farm and archaeologically accurate recreation of the hometown of our Lord and Savior Jesus. There is a well designed physical set-up of the 1st century Nazareth complete with several olive trees and crops planted as well as villagers played by actors who themselves were fully immersed with the life and processes of the said era. Adding to the high level of details about the village are tools, clothing, raw materials and other physical setups that recaptured the livelihood of 1st century Nazareth.
Shortly after arriving at Nazareth Village, our pilgrimage tour group was oriented about the village and eventually a local tour guide led us on a tour that involved walking from one spot to another, each one with lectures and explanations.
Our tour guide led us to real farm land (with crops), replicas of 1st century houses, olive presses and even a synagogue with a scroll inside. Very clearly, Nazareth Village’s team of specialists really captured the look, the structures and feel of the 1st century Nazareth.
As part of the tour, we met a 1st century Nazareth potter, a weaver and a carpenter in different locations. Each of them showed their skills on making things as it was during the time of Lord Jesus. What we witnessed was enlightening and amazing. We gained a clear look at what 1st century village life of Nazareth was like.
Nazareth’s connection with Lord Jesus – As mentioned earlier, Nazareth has been recorded in the Holy Bible and this includes its connection with Lord Jesus. Refer to the holy scriptures below with Nazareth references in boldface…
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
Acts 2:22-25 (NKJV)
How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.
Acts 10:38 (AMPC)
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
John 19:19 (ESV)
Every year Jesus’ parents went to worship at Jerusalem during the Passover festival. When Jesus turned twelve, his parents took him to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, as was their custom. A full day after they began their journey home, Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was missing. They had assumed he was somewhere in their entourage, but he was nowhere to be found. After a frantic search among relatives and friends, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After being separated from him for three days, they finally found him in the temple, sitting among the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking probing questions. All who heard Jesus speak were awestruck at his intelligent understanding of all that was being discussed and at his wise answers to their questions.
His parents were shocked to find him there, and Mary scolded him, saying, “Son, your father and I have searched for you everywhere! We have been worried sick over not finding you. Why would you do this to us?”
Jesus said to them, “Why would you need to search for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be here in my Father’s house, consumed with him?”
Mary and Joseph didn’t fully understand what Jesus meant.
Jesus went back home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured Jesus’ words deeply in her heart. As Jesus grew, so did his wisdom and maturity. The favor of men increased upon his life, for he was greatly loved by God
Luke 2:41-51 (TPT)
When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, he began teaching the people in the synagogue. Everyone was dazed, overwhelmed with astonishment over the depth of revelation they were hearing. They said to one another, “Where did this man get such great wisdom and miraculous powers?”
Mark 13:54 (TPT)
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Mark 14:67 (NKJV)
In addition to the selected holy scriptures above, it is essential to examine the rejection Lord Jesus received in Nazareth. Refer to the holy scripture below…
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ”
Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to [Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Luke 4:16-30 (NKJV)
To put things in perspective, the synagogue originated during the Exile, when the Jewish people were separated from the temple services in the holy city of Jerusalem. The synagogue was both a religious and educational institution. A member or visitor who was judged worthy was frequently asked to read the Scripture and make the appropriate comments. Lord Jesus regularly engaged in worship with the members of the synagogue. As He was handed the book of Isaiah and made His declaration in front of many, it symbolized the ultimate fulfillment awaiting the coming of the messianic age. Lord Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah and His defined ministry became the ongoing essence of the good news of the gospel of God’s Kingdom. Eventually, He passed His ministry to the disciples (refer to Luke 9:1-2) and trusted them.
It should be noted that the locals who perceived Him only as the son of Joseph did not realize the truth that He is God’s only begotten Son. They failed to realize Him as the Messiah, God in the flesh, the Savior and Lord of all. They did not believe in Him. The locals were so blinded with what is worldly, they failed to realize the holiness of Lord Jesus who has been identified with their locality that is Nazareth.
With regards to the people’s rejection of Him, He anticipated the demands from the locals that He should make miracles happen in Nazareth as He had done in Capernaum. Of course, His signs are not for skeptics but for those who truly believe in Him. It should be noted that the people who are most familiar with great people are sometimes the least appreciative of their greatness.
Even though they were filled with so much rage (in reaction to His declarations) and went as far as bringing Lord Jesus out of Nazareth and on to the cliff to kill Him, the locals ultimately failed. They were a mob driven by wrath but the holiness and power of Lord Jesus proved to be too much for them. This was a supernatural event that saw Him walk His way through the mob and proceeded to Capernaum in the region of Galilee. This should remind you that God had an ultimate plan for His Son Jesus which resulted in victory which we the faithful are living with now.
For added insight, posted below is the New Living Translation (NLT) of Luke 4:16-30…
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.
Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.
Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4:16-30 (NLT)
In ending this biblical teaching, let me point out that in the Book of John, Lord Jesus declared that those who believe and follow Him can expect persecution. He reminded us all that the unbelieving world is filled with wrath and hatred. In the Book of Revelations is a verse that connects with what was declared in the Book of John. Do not forget that Lord Jesus is the mediator between man and God, and He too is also the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Savior! The holy scriptures below should help you. Always remember that being worldly makes you unholy, and it separates you from the Lord. That being said, be faithful and always follow Lord Jesus with all your heart no matter what happens to you.
If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.
If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.
Remember that I told you, A servant is not greater than his master [is not superior to him]. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours.
But they will do all this to you [inflict all this suffering on you] because of [your bearing] My name and on My account, for they do not know or understand the One Who sent Me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin [would be blameless]; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates Me also hates My Father.
If I had not done (accomplished) among them the works which no one else ever did, they would not be guilty of sin. But [the fact is] now they have both seen [these works] and have hated both Me and My Father.
But [this is so] that the word written in their Law might be fulfilled, They hated Me without a cause.
But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.
John 15:18-26 (AMPC)
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelations 21:3-8 (NKJV)
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the manChrist Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (the Before all and the End of all).
Revelations 22:13 (AMPC)
Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:2-12 (NKJV)
I can say that the time we spent at Nazareth Village was not just a very enlightening look back at 1st century living but it was also an opportunity to closely examine the Word of God for Nazareth’s biblical inclusion, Nazareth’s connection with Lord Jesus, and the rejection of Him by the locals who failed to realize His holiness. This article is not about condemnation at all. In fact, this article is an opportunity for you readers to look at Nazareth with biblical truth as well as living on with the victory Lord Jesus achieved for the faithful. That being said, I encourage you readers to learn to love and bless the Jewish people while living on with the Word of God. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.
For those of you who plan to visit Israel on pilgrimage tours, I highly recommend visiting Nazareth Village and in preparation for that, I encourage you to read the Holy Bible not just for Nazareth references but also the entire Old and New Testaments for full immersion with God’s Word. The greater your understanding of God’s Word is, the more the Holy Bible will come to life in front of you when you visit Nazareth Village. This goes the same with visiting other holy sites around Israel. For the best quality pilgrimage tour experience, I strongly recommend Behold Israel’s Bible Experience Tours. Come visit Israel to seek the Lord’s Kingdom (read Matthew 6:33). Ask God about His plans for you in connection to visiting Israel.
To follow Nazareth Village for information and key updates, visit https://www.nazarethvillage.com/ and follow their social media accounts at Facebook and Instagram. Nazareth Village is a great place to visit for your faith in the Lord, and it also has a lot to offer to visitors from around the world apart from the on-site guided tours.
Lastly, I urge you all to stand united with Israel (read Genesis 35:10-12), to love and bless the Jewish people (read Genesis 12:1-3) and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel articles here.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official website of the subject business is also used. Take note that this is not a sponsored article at all. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Let me start by confirming to you all that I just had the greatest foreign trip ever in my life…a pilgrimage tour in Israel with my local church (led by two of its designated pastors for the tour) hosted by its Israeli partner.
During a particular day of the tour, our group was in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee (also referred to as Lake Tiberias) when some of us – including myself – participated in water baptism at the Yardenit Baptismal Site. After that, our group went to a nearby store for organic goods and spices to shop. The problem was the store we visited was closed for some reason.
As an alternative, we went to the area of Kinneret (located in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee) and visited the Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center (also referred to as Tamar B’kfar Visitors Center). It turns out, the change was splendid.
Upon entering the store, Tamar Bakfar’s people welcomed us very warmly and one of them oriented us about what they were selling, how wide their lineup of organic goods was, which products are healthy, why nature is emphasized a lot through their products, and the like. The store has a very nice interior design and the products were cleverly organized to be customer-friendly and even be attractive.
As I personally observed, Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center sells a lot of different types of products that can meet the needs or wants of customers. They have dates and date products (note: date spread, date honey, date conditioner, date syrup and so on), nuts, dried fruits, spices, honey (note: avocado honey, eucalyptus honey, and Galilee-sourced honey to name a few), olive oil, chocolates (note: chocolates come in many different forms), wine and other types of sweets.
Anyone looking for self-care products should check out their cosmetics section where they have products that used natural ingredients such as age-away hydrating cream, avocado and rosemary soap, the black bamboo soap, cypress nurturing hand cream, honey hand-and-foot cream, and the lavender body wash to name some. If you are insistent on having self-care products that come with natural ingredients, then you will find something here.
If you are into kitchenware, Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center has a good production selection for you: lunch cubes, multipurpose kitchen scissors, thermos bottles, stainless steel pots, bamboo cups, espresso cups, barbeque grill pans and more.
In my experience, walking around the store and observing the products offered was a joyful thing. Just about every product I saw had that premium aesthetic which you will realize by visiting the place and seeing the products personally.
I can say that our visit at the Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center is a nice blessing from our Lord. Their store is huge and attractive. Their personnel are customer-friendly, helpful and professional. Also what they have in-store are very varied and plentiful. So many choices you can make based on what you need or want. More notably, their store offers the finest of the Galilee region’s harvest in the form of dried fruits, spices, ingredients and more. Galilee is blessed and this should not be surprising at all as our Lord and Savior Jesus spent a good amount of time in the region thousands of years ago. Refer to the holy scriptures below…
On the third day Jesus left there and continued his journey to Galilee, where he had been raised. Now Jesus knew that prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometown. Even so, as Jesus arrived in the province of Galilee, the people welcomed him with open arms. Many of them had been in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival and had witnessed firsthand the miracles he had performed.
Jesus entered the village of Cana of Galilee where he had transformed water into wine. He met there a governmental official from Capernaum whose son was very sick and dying. When he heard that Jesus had left Judea and was staying in Cana of Galilee, he decided to make the journey to Cana. When he found Jesus, he begged him, “You must come with me to Capernaum and heal my son!”
So Jesus said to him, “You never believe unless you see signs and wonders.”
But the man continued to plead, “Come with me to Capernaum before my little boy dies!”
Jesus looked him in the eyes and said, “Go back home now. I promise you, your son will live.”
The man believed in his heart the words of Jesus and set off for home. When he was still a distance from Capernaum, his servants met him on the road and told him the good news, “Your son is healed! He’s alive!”
Overjoyed, the father asked his servants, “When did my son begin to recover?”
“Yesterday,” they said, “at one in the afternoon. All at once his fever broke—and now he’s well!”
Then the father immediately realized that it was at that very same hour that Jesus spoke the words to him, “Your son will live.”
From that day forward, the man, his servants, and all his family believed. Healing the official’s son was Jesus’ second extraordinary miracle in Galilee after returning from Judea.
John 4:43-54 (TPT)
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Luke 4:14-15 (NKJV)
If ever you are visiting Israel and will be spending time in the Galilee region, then I highly recommend visiting the Tamar Bakfar Vistors Center in Kinneret. Visit the company’s official website at https://tamarbakfar.co.il/ and follow them on Instagram.
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel pieces here.