5 Sep 2022

I Can Dig It

Is there a greater fantasy for biblical Christians than to visit the Holy Land and…TAKE PART IN AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG?

Wow. I have not, but it’s on my bucket list. My trips to Israel have usually been business-oriented, but one of these days…

Now I’ve learned that Israel’s Tourism Ministry is hatching a plan to include evangelicals in digs around the country. Needless to say, anywhere one “puts a spade in the ground,” there is the possibility of finding an ancient treasure. This has accelerated greatly since the Six Day War.

After that seismic event, one of the positive outcomes is that Israeli archaeologists had access to the biblical heartland and they took full advantage in digging up the past.

(It’s important to point out that the so-called “Palestinian history” never was. The PLO/Palestinian Authority worked mighty hard in the 1990s to invent that history, but when you don’t find “Palestinian” ancient villages, religious structures, etc., it’s hard to con the public. Conversely, since the days of William Albright, biblicists have confirmed the accuracy of Scripture by unearthing scores of ancient Hebrew sites.)

According to the Jerusalem Post:

“In addition to excavations, the tourist package will also include tours and expert lectures, with the aim of allowing bible enthusiasts to ‘take an active part in the historical story of the Jewish people.’”

This will kick off in spring 2023, to coincide with the miracle of Israel’s 75th Independence Day. Glory!

It causes me to recall digs I’ve seen from a distance. Once in downtown Jaffa, traffic had to be re-routed due to a giant hole in the street! Archaeologists were uncovering evidence of an ancient presence. Another time, I was driving through the new tunnel at the north end of Jerusalem’s Old City, and I wondered what it was like to launch a new project like that while at the same time preserving the artifacts that were no doubt uncovered.

But my favorite archaeological site is another spot outside the Old City walls, In 2017 I was strolling along with a friend and he pointed out the famous fortress of Antiochus Epiphanes; some had felt (much like the Hittites) that this was mere legend, but here it was, uncovered under a parking lot!

By contrast, the Palestinians have decimated much of the Temple Mount by constructing two underground mosques (that can supposedly seat 10,000!). By hollowing-out under the upper plateau, they had compromised the structural integrity of the site and almost caused its collapse. Only intervention by Israeli and Jordanian archaeologists saved the site and, ironically, the Dome of the Rock. I looked on in disgust at piles of debris dumped on the Temple Mount, clear evidences of Roman occupation and First and Second Temple artifacts.

Back to the evangelical initiative.

“’Our wonderful history in this land attracts many tourists, people who love Israel, who want to discover with their own hands the hidden treasures we have here,’ Tourism Minister Yoel Razbozov said.

“In addition, a visit of Christians that combines archeology, conservation and assistance in uncovering findings related to the biblical legacy of the State of Israel will improve Israel’s image overseas and spread the legacy of the People of the Book to the Christian world.

“‘Strengthening the relationship between Christians who love Israel through incoming tourism also helps support Israel’s economy,’ the minister noted.”

Imagine digging in the soil at Megiddo, or in the Galilee, or, yes, near the Temple Mount. As I said earlier, I’ve often thought of these things as I’ve walked around the country. As you stroll past the Old City walls, it’s always fun to think of what might be buried just a few feet away. And in fact, regularly we read of amazing finds found right there. Artifacts that confirm the culture and political environments of various stages of biblical history. There one might find an Egyptian inscription, or a Roman road. One of the most stunning things I’ve ever gazed on is a section of Roman road extending out from the Old City walls, and meeting the modern street on the west side of Jerusalem. Absolutely staggering.

Walking through the Jewish Quarter and seeing an ancient wall from the time of the Babylonian invasion is a surreal experience. I’m so glad the Foreign Ministry has come up with this project, so that Christians can have a stake in what happens in the field of archaeology.

The Bible is all true, and archaeology confirms that often in today’s Land of Israel.