To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the GMA news article. Some parts in boldface…
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the National Tourism Development Plan for 2023-2028 which will serve as the blueprint of the Philippines’ tourism industry.
This was announced by Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco at a Palace press briefing following a sectoral meeting with the President on Tuesday morning.
“This NTDP is the result of consultation among the tourism coordinating council as well as our various tourism stakeholders from our regions all over the Philippines. The NTDP shall serve as the blueprint and the development framework for the tourism industry for the duration of the Marcos administration,” she said.
Frasco said this plan focuses on giving the country a chance to become a “tourism powerhouse.”
“These objectives involve not simply the promotion of the Philippines which we will continue domestically and internationally but also, more importantly, addressing the essential issues of tourism development, including the development of infrastructure, connectivity, as well as digitalization, the equalization of tourism, development, and promotion, the enhancement of overall tourism experience as well as the strengthening of tourism governance,” she explained.
Frasco said the plan would also serve as a guide for regions across the Philippines “to spread countrywide development through tourism,” adding that this will also provide jobs to Filipinos.
“Mabibigyan po ng pagkakataon ‘yung ating mga kababayan na magkaroon ng tourism employment sa pamamagitan ng pag-develop natin ng tourism circuits and to continue to push for tourism across our regions and provinces,” she said.
Meanwhile, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy promised that the agency would extend support to DOT on this tourism plan, specifically on connection issues.
He said most tourists are also vloggers who are making content about their experience in tourist spots.
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Do you think the Philippines is on its way to becoming an Asian tourism powerhouse in the years ahead? If you own a business that specifically caters to tourists, were able to make significant gains this year?
For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. This is not a sponsored article. 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 and fellow followers of the Lord! This is the 6th 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 2023 tour articles, click here, here, here, here and here.
In this latest edition of my Israel 2023 series, I share with you my observations and captured images about my visit at the Pool of Siloam (also referred to as the Pool of Shiloah) in the City of David (just outside of the wall of Jerusalem) which is a highly significant pilgrimage site and as of this writing there are developments being done to improve it physically. At its current location, the pool’s remains were discovered in the year 2004 covering an area of three dunams, or three-quarters of an acre dating back to the era of the Second Temple (2nd Jewish Temple).
As of our visit, only a minor portion of the ancient pool was made accessible for visiting and viewing, and there is a lot more excavation work that needs to be done to uncover it and eventually reveal its full size.
The Pool of Siloam is an ancient, rock-cut pool located outside of the wall of the old city of Jerusalem. Water from the Gihon Spring that passed through the Siloam Tunnel (AKA Hezekiah’s Tunnel) made its way to the Pool of Siloam. During biblical times, the pool was an essential destination for Jewish people to get purified first before traveling all the way up along a wide road leading to the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem. Today, there is a tunnel at the end of the site of the pool moving up. The tunnel, which was discovered in recent years, points towards the Temple Mount at least in its current form. It is believed that the tunnel includes a drainage channel that apparently was used as a hiding place for the last Jewish rebels against the Romans in the year 70 CE. The Pool of Siloam ceased to function after the destruction of Jerusalem and as time passed by, it vanished from sight as it got filled with earth. That being said, its 2004 discovery is indeed a miracle from God for people of faith to visit and witness the Holy Bible come to life in front of them. Years from now, the Pool of Siloam’s full size and scope will be realized. The best is yet to come from our Lord!
To put things in perspective, our pilgrimage tour group first went through the ancient City of David and even explored the tunnels moving south. There was even water from the Gihon spring flowing along the way. After regrouping, we marched further to the site of the Pool of Siloam which has a physical set-up designed to accommodate visitors. The site was suitable for tour group members to sit down and listen to a biblical teaching and/or key updates from the tour guide. There was also excavation going on at the opposite side of the site. You can see the place in motion as I captured it with my Samsung Galaxy A50’s camera. The raw video has been uploaded on my YouTube channel and you can watch it below…
Also worth watching is this CBN News YouTube video about the ancient pool. The video was published about a month before our pilgrimage tour happened.
The biblical significance of the Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam is more than just ancient and more than just a great example of construction…it is biblical. It was made during the time of King Hezekiah and the following translations of 2 Kings 20:20 below confirmed it…
Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
2 Kings 20:20 (NKJV)
The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
2 Kings 20:20 (ESV)
The rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and the canal and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
2 Kings 20:20 (AMPC)
Under King Hezekiah’s leadership, two crews dug the tunnel (as referred to in 2 Kings 20:20 NKJV) through solid rock. One crew started from the Pool of Siloam while the other at the spring of Gihon. Given the fact that they accomplished their tasks without even having the modern technologies of today, the tunnel is absolutely remarkable as a feat of engineering. God made a way for this accomplishment and with Him, nothing is impossible. With constant water flowing from the Gihon spring, the Pool of Siloam was not just a place for people to get cleaned at or a place to refresh themselves at but it became the destination for purification that Jewish people needed before they go to the Temple Mount which remains a very holy place to this day. God had all of these planned and it was executed in Israel by King Hezekiah. Remember this when you visit the Pool of Siloam in Israel.
The Pool of Siloam got mentioned in Chapter 3 of the Book of Nehemiah which itself emphasized a remarkable display of unity in relation to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. The mention also made clear its location at the bottom of the City of David. Learn from the holy scripture below…
The Fountain Gate was rebuilt by Shallun son of Col-Hozeh, mayor of the Mizpah district; he repaired it, roofed it, hung its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. He also rebuilt the wall of the Pool of Siloam at the King’s Garden as far as the steps that go down from the City of David.
Nehemiah 3:15 (MSG)
The water that flowed from the spring of Gihon and filled up the Pool of Siloam was not ordinary. It was living water and it was essential for the Jewish people and their honoring of the Lord God during those days. Each day during the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous celebration was observed in which priests brought water from the Pool of Siloam using golden pitchers and brought them to the Jewish temple at the Temple Mount. During the procession, the people recited Isaiah 12:3. The water was poured out on the altar as an offering to God as there were people shouting and singing. Lord Jesus was the fulfillment of all that the ceremony typified. Read the bible verses below…
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 7:37-39 (NKJV)
What makes the Pool of Siloam even more significant within the Holy Bible is the miracle that took place in Chapter 9 of the Book of John. I’m talking about the miracle of our Lord and Savior Jesus healing a man who was born blind and the ancient pool itself was place where the faith-driven healing was realized. Learn from the translations of John 9:1-11 below…
Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this guy’s blindness, his own, or the sin of his parents?”
Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle. While I am with you, it is daytime and we must do the works of God who sent me while the light shines. For there is coming a dark night when no one will be able to work. As long as I am with you my life is the light that pierces the world’s darkness.”
Then Jesus spat on the ground and made some clay with his saliva. Then he anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay.
And he said to the blind man, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the ritual pool of Siloam.”
So he went and washed his face and as he came back, he could see for the first time in his life!
This caused quite a stir among the people of the neighborhood, for they noticed the blind beggar was now seeing! They began to say to one another, “Isn’t this the blind man who once sat and begged?” Some said, “No, it can’t be him!” Others said, “But it looks just like him—it has to be him!” All the while the man kept insisting, “I’m the man who was blind!”
Finally, they asked him, “What has happened to you?”
He replied, “I met the man named Jesus! He rubbed clay on my eyes and said, ‘Go to the pool named Siloam and wash.’ So I went and while I was washing the clay from my eyes I began to see for the very first time ever!”
John 9:1-11 (TPT)
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”
He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.
Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”
Others said, “It’s him all right!”
But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”
He said, “It’s me, the very one.”
They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”
“A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said. When I washed, I saw.”
John 9:1-11 (MSG)
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.
And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”
Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”
He said, “I am he.”
Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
John 9:1-11 (NKJV)
What we can learn from the above miracle is that faith in Lord Jesus is essential as He is God in the flesh and someday He will return to us here on Earth. This is about trusting in Him wholeheartedly and following His commands and His direction without hesitation and without any trace of doubt. The blind man, who also had been a beggar who suffered for a long time, followed Lord Jesus and went to the Pool of Siloam (as he was directed by Him) where the healing manifested. It was healing that was super natural because the Lord Himself is greater than the forces of the world.
In response to His disciples’ question about the man’s blindness, Lord Jesus noted that beyond the tragedy of human defects, which result in a general way from man’s fall and the consequent entry of sin, sickness, affliction and death into the world, God’s merciful and sovereign race is available. The many lost and unsaved souls may not realize it yet, but the truth is that Lord Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and nobody can come to the Heavenly Father except through Him (refer to John 14:6). Lord Jesus is also the mediator between God and people (read 1 Timothy 2:5). As the Anointed One, Lord Jesus emphasized responsibility in connection to doing the works of God. He took it upon Himself to help the blind man and physically used His own saliva on the ground to make clay and spread it on the blind man’s eyes before directing him to the Pool of Siloam where he should wash it off. Then the healing manifested.
For a short while, let us visit a different part of the Holy Bible pertaining to miraculous healing in the presence of Lord Jesus – Mark 5:25-34. There was this suffering yet faithful woman who was truly determined to reach out and touch Lord Jesus to be healed. This miracle has common elements with the miracle at the Pool of Siloam. Read the scripture below…
Now, in the crowd that day was a woman who had suffered horribly from continual bleeding for twelve years. She had endured a great deal under the care of various doctors, yet in spite of spending all she had on their treatments, she was getting worse instead of better. When she heard about Jesus’ healing power, she pushed through the crowd and came up from behind him and touched his prayer shawl. For she kept saying to herself, “If I could touch even his clothes, I know I will be healed.” As soon as her hand touched him, her bleeding immediately stopped! She knew it, for she could feel her body instantly being healed of her disease!
Jesus knew at once that someone had touched him, for he felt the power that always surged around him had passed through him for someone to be healed.
He turned and spoke to the crowd, saying, “Who touched my clothes?”
His disciples answered, “What do you mean, who touched you? Look at this huge crowd—they’re all pressing up against you.” But Jesus’ eyes swept across the crowd, looking for the one who had touched him for healing.
When the woman who experienced this miracle realized what had happened to her, she came before him, trembling with fear, and threw herself down at his feet, saying, “I was the one who touched you.” And she told him her story of what had just happened.
Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, because you dared to believe, your faith has healed you. Go with peace in your heart, and be free from your suffering!”
Mark 5:25-34 (TPT)
The above biblical account proved that the woman got healed because of her faith in Lord Jesus who in turn recognized her faith in Him. Without faith in Him, there would not have been any healing. Going back to John 9:1-11, the blind man who got healed at the Pool of Siloam fully trusted Lord Jesus with all his heart and this confirms his faith in Him. The man believed in Jesus!
Lord Jesus’ mixing of His saliva with the substance on the ground to make clay is symbolic. The spit and clay symbolize Jesus as God in the flesh (the form of a man). The saliva that came from His mouth symbolize the spoken Word of God and God as incarnate. The clay symbolizes man for our human vessel is a jar of clay. The blind man previously heard people spit as they walked by him and expressed their disgust of him. They were disgusted because they believed that blindness was caused by a curse (refer to Deuteronomy 28:28). Of course, those people did not realize that Lord Jesus was God in the flesh nor did they realize that God’s only begotten Son walked among them and only He could make super natural healing and other miracles happen.
After getting healed and gaining vision, the blind man caught the attention of the people there at the Pool of Siloam and he revealed to them he met Lord Jesus and followed His instructions faithfully.
The story of the miracle at the Pool of Siloam did not end there, however. In fact, the impact of the miracle made the people bring the healed man to the Pharisees and it was on the Sabbath when the encounter with Jesus happened. Learn from the bible verses below…
Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.”
He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”
Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.
John 9:14-34 (NKJV)
To make things very clear about the biblical account above that took place after the miracle at the Pool of Siloam, I want to stress to you all that Lord Jesus did not lead the healed man into trouble. In reality, it was the Pharisees’ failure to realize that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all as they were stuck with their old ways, their religion and blindness to the truth. The perverse reasoning of the Pharisees placed them in a dilemma from which the only escape was to disprove the miracle that happened. They expressed that no miracle could have occurred because it was the Sabbath, and that God would never violate the law of rest by healing a person.
The undeniable fact that a man born blind got healed and gained perfect sight refuted the theory of the Pharisees. Thus, they must either deny the facts or confess the divine nature and holiness of Jesus. The logic of the healed man was undeniable and irrefutable. Unable to deny the man’s testimony, the religious leaders took the cowardly way out by excommunicating him. To be removed from the synagogue was a tremendous loss for most Jews. The religious leaders had their chance to realize the truth and submit themselves to Lord Jesus but they blew it because they did not have faith and they did not realize that Lord Jesus was God in the flesh walking among many people. As the Pharisees excommunicated the healed man, the above biblical account still has the elements which reminds me of the Nazareth Jews who rejected Lord Jesus.
Of course, Lord Jesus learned about the healed man’s excommunication. Read the biblical account below…
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”
Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.
And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
John 9:35-41 (NKJV)
As the man who was previously blind submitted himself to Lord Jesus with undeniable faith, He eventually encountered the unbelieving Pharisees responsible for excommunicating the healed man. What Lord Jesus told the Pharisees was about spiritual blindness (as opposed to physical blindness).
Lord Jesus moved the discussion from physical blindness to spiritual blindness. To believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior means to see spiritually, whereas those who do not believe in Him remain blind.
Furthermore, even though the healed man was unable to read Scriptures due to the blindness he was born with, he still established his faith in Lord Jesus! This should remind you all that traditions and superficial knowledge of the Bible can blind our hearts if we do not believe in Lord Jesus above all other religious dogmas. There are many out there who knew the Scriptures but still refused to believe. There are many people out there who strictly practice religion, idolatry, rituals, traditions, the vow of poverty, worldliness and distorted teachings about the Bible while failing to realize that faith in the Lord and His Word is always essential. There are lots of people out there who are not only lost and unsaved, but also spiritually blinded! This should remind you that as Christians, we should never give up evangelizing others with God’s Word and help them come to Lord Jesus in faith.
Ultimately, the miracle that happened at the Pool of Siloam proves that God had come to see us!
In a greater context within the Holy Bible, the Pool of Siloam links King David, King Solomon, King Hezekiah and Lord Jesus together with Jerusalem as the holiest city of all. Also connected are the stories of Isaiah and Jeremiah. The Pool of Siloam served as the water system and place of purification of Jerusalem in biblical times. Today, the excavation at the Pool of Siloam continues to go on and in due time, its entirety will be realized and that would make it an even greater holy site for faithful people to visit.
Indeed, our pilgrimage tour group’s visit to the Pool of Siloam is a big blessing from God. I myself brought my Holy Bible to the site and took time out to read the verses about Lord Jesus’ healing of the blind man. Me and our group companions got blessed all throughout the pilgrimage tour of the Holy Land.
Going back to Chapter 9 of the Book of John, the biblical account is a lively reminder that we must always have unwavering faith in Lord Jesus, follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, live on with the truth that miracles and super natural healing are only possible with Him, and we must never allow religion, unbelief, traditions, biblical distortions, idolatry, rituals and the wickedness of the world to get in the way of our faith in Him. We need to seek Lord Jesus first and follow His light. We need to be faithful to the Lord always and I encourage you to read the following holy scriptures below…
Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for. Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (TPT)
Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMPC)
As you can see, Hebrews 11:1-3 and Hebrews 12:1-2 connect well with the healing of the man who was previously blind at the Pool of Siloam which is the result of him being faithful and trustful to Lord Jesus who helped him and gave him a direction. It is his faith in God’s only begotten Son that is the highlight of the miraculous healing at the ancient pool. Jesus is clearly the finisher, the author, the leader and source of our faith!
As John 9:1-41 includes the unbelieving religious Jews who excommunicated the healed man and came into conflict with Lord Jesus Himself, let me remind you not to get into conflict with the lost and the unsaved, and never ever fall into anti-Semitism (prejudice against the Jewish people) which is still a global disease and proof that being worldly is unholy.
Do not reject the Jews who reject Lord Jesus. Instead, you should keep on persevering to love and bless the Jewish people, preach God’s Word to them, share your testimony with them and help (not force) lead them to Jesus so that they can decide for themselves to accept Him as Lord and Savior. The pilgrimage tour in Israel proved to be a very holy and enlightening experience for me and I can clearly say that Israel has a special place in my heart. This is not surprising at all because visiting Israel was God’s answer to my prayers and it was destiny for me to join the pilgrimage tour through my local church. There is nothing like witnessing the Holy Bible come to life while visiting many sites where the recorded events happened. The Holy Bible is more than just a book – it is the living Word of God and it is eternally holy!
Along the way, I encourage you all to stand united with Israel no matter what happens within the country and around the world. Israel is clearly the land that God designated for the Jewish people and His declaration stands way above the so-called rules and philosophies of wicked worldly entities or groups like the United Nations, Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Iran, the so-called state of Palestine, the U.S. Democrat party and others. Learn from the holy scriptures below…
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”
Genesis 35:10-12 (ESV)
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)
Finally, to the readers who are about to visit the Holy Land, I encourage you to verify with your tour group leader the inclusion of the Pool of Siloam in the itinerary of Jerusalem. Israel is a great and holy place to visit! Visit Israel with the Holy Bible! Pray to the Lord and reveal to Him your heart’s desire to visit Israel to deepen your faith in Him. Always be the fearless and aggressive church of Lord Jesus!
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel articles here. There is more to come!
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.
The tourism numbers for the State of Israel covering the calendar year of 2022 have been finalized. Israel’s Ministry of Tourism confirmed that the state attracted a total of 2.675 million tourist entries which generated tourism revenue worth 13.5 billion shekels (US$3.8 billion). The Jerusalem Post confirmed the tourist entries figure as well. Take note that Israel opened its borders to international travelers in March 2022 and very clearly their tourism industry is bouncing back strongly which is good for their economy. The above reported figures are the best since 2019 (the record year of tourism in Israel).
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from official report of the Ministry of Tourism. Some parts in boldface…
In 2022, 2.675 million tourist entries were recorded (as opposed to only 397,000 in 2021 and 831,000 in 2020). The skies in Israel were opened officially to incoming tourism in March 2022 and only three months later, in May, without any restrictions. Incoming tourism to Israel in 2022 is about 41% lower than 2019, a record year for incoming tourism. Revenue from incoming tourism stands at about NIS 13.5 billion (not including cost of flights) as opposed to about NIS 23 billion in 2019.
The Ministry of Tourism notes that there are a number of factors that have affected tourist entries in this recovery year: tourists plan their trips far in advance, and Israel opened for incoming tourism later than similar destinations in the area and Europe. Therefore, Israel’s recovery rate from the crisis is slightly lower than the global average of about 36% decrease in the volume of incoming tourism relative to 2019.
However, a renewed growth in tourism can be seen. In December 2022, 266,200 tourist entries were recorded (compared with 20,500 in December 2021 and 358,300 in December 2019) – a decrease of about 25% (only) in relation to December 2019.
Very clearly, Israel continues to rise with its tourism industry as their nation keeps on persevering with recovering from the depression that came with the COVID-19 crisis a few years back. Considering what was achieved in 2022 in terms of attracting visitors from overseas, further growth this year should not be surprising. There are many millions of people around the world who are eager to visit Israel and spend time at the many holy sites in relation to their faith. For insight about the recovery and growth of tourism in Israel, watch the videos below…
Be thankful to God that the State of Israel is recovering strongly from the COVID-19 crisis. Thank Him for the big rebound of tourism Israel is having right now. Be thankful to Him as many millions of people around the world who believe and follow Lord Jesus will have opportunities to visit the Holy Land to deepen their faith in Him even more.