We cherish so many happy memories of our time in Israel, where we met some wonderful people, especially Danny, our guide. He served as a sergeant major in an elite parachute regiment with the Israeli army; is a veteran of three wars, and as he strode out ahead of us, leading the way over hills and ruins, I often felt as though I was in boot camp. Lots of great exercise. :)
His knowledge of history was incredible and trying to absorb and I struggled to remember everything he told us, but failed! I am sure I caught only a tiny fraction, but I was so grateful for all that he poured into us during the time we spent with him. From the moment he met us at the airport with Mottie (Mordecai) our driver, he devoted almost all of his waking hours for 8 days to making our trip amazing.
Olga works in the office at Yaffa Tours and made all of the arrangements for our tour. She came along with us on the final days we spent in Jerusalem, just being present, making sure everything was as it should be and finally going with us to the airport and facilitating our way through the intense security procedures as fast as possible. She was a lovely, gracious woman, originally from Russia, married to a professor.
One of the fascinating bits of information Danny gave us concerned the catch of 153 fish recorded in the last chapter of the gospel of John.
He told us that numbers are always significant in scripture, which makes sense, otherwise why would the number of exactly "153" fish be mentioned?
He showed us on a white board, the numerical value of the words Elohim Ani--or God am I. This was one of the times I struggled to catch all that he said, but I had my camera handy so I took a photo of the board as it came around the bus.
Did God convey a message in the number of fish?
Danny told us he was a "non-religious" Jew. It was hard to understand how someone could work amongst the physical evidence of God's hand at work in the history of Israel and yet not be as profoundly affected as we were by being there. When I asked him what it all meant to him he said, "History," and he said he was too much of a sinner to be religious, although he loved watching how other people responded to being there. It's a good thing knowing God doesn't depend on not being a sinner, but only God can show a person that. We've been praying every morning since we got home for our friends in Israel.
I'm sure that we will soon be forgotten by these people that made their land come alive for us in such a wonderful way, but I will never forget them.
John 21:7-14 (The Message)
7-9Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Master!"
When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren't far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.
10-11Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you've just caught." Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn't rip.
12Jesus said, "Breakfast is ready." Not one of the disciples dared ask, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Master.