Beholding Beauty – A Homeschool Devotional from Israel

Day 1

Shalom, friends!

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel with my school to walk where Jesus walked. As we begin a new school year, I wanted to encourage you with the blessing that you have in teaching your children. God is greatly honored by your efforts. I pray your year goes well, and I thought I would share some thoughts intertwined with some of what I learned in Israel.

Beholding Beauty

Beholding beauty was the theme of my sister's senior thesis, and it became a theme of our summer. It is easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of assignments, activities, and to-dos and miss the beauty of what God has planned for your family for this season. God, staying true to his faithful nature, promises so much for your journey.

However, as you are going, remember to stay present, for you must first be present to be able to behold.

(About 5:15am sunrise on the Sea of Galilee)

Being in Israel has opened my eyes to the realness of the gospel and of His presence in my life. And it’s hit me that the Spirit has not always been so accessible. For thousands of years, God’s Spirit was restricted to the Holy of Holies in the temple, where only the high priest could go. And even then, that high priest could only go in once a year.

The Israelites would attach a bell to the priest’s ankle as he entered, just in case the priest was in any way unclean and would die within the untouchable regions of the temple. Today, Jews fear even walking near the ancient site of the temple, lest they accidentally step where the Holy of Holies used to be and die.

How incredible is it that Jesus sent us this holy, powerful Spirit, who he named “the Comforter,” who would be with us always? (John 14:16)

Jesus Teaches with Images to Behold

Keep your eyes open this year. Just as the Spirit is close and real, so is His teaching. What I’m learning is that when God speaks to us, he uses words and images that we will be able to understand. 

Take the sermon on the mount, for example, preached from the top of Mount Arbel (below)

From the top of Arbel, the Sea of Galilee is clear and majestic, and you can see the major cities where the people lived. Right below, by all the greenery, is Magdala, where Jesus cured a poor woman named Mary with seven demons. (Luke 8:2)

You can see far and wide, but Jesus chose the little things nearby for his sermon. He said:

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:28-33 NIV

If you turn away from the view and look out at the field where the people would be standing as they listened to Jesus preach, you will see rivers of purple Echinops, clothed better than Solomon:

Mixed with these Echinops are fields of yellow mustard plants for anyone to collect from with a quick shake of the plant. 

Similarly, the mountaintop is bursting with life. Birds and butterflies zip about everywhere, feasting on the sweet nectar the wildflowers provide.

A City On a Hill

Jesus does use one particular image involving the view, however, and it comes fairly early in his sermon.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 - NIV

From every point on the Sea of Galilee, you can see every shore. And since the Sea itself is 600 feet below sea level, it sits in this geographical bowl, with massive hills rising on every side just to bring the land back up to sea level.

So from any point on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, it is impossible to miss the bright lights at night. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Let’s all pray today, that with our lives and hearts, our longing for Jesus would be bright and unmistakable. And as you pray, keep the eyes of your heart open to look for the little things that Jesus will use to teach you as you begin this school year.

What is he telling you through the flowers, birds, and butterflies? What stands out to you as beautiful? Perhaps the Spirit is prompting you to behold, for it is from that place that Jesus wants to teach you.

2 Comments

  1. Kim on September 5, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Hi, Andy! Thank you for sharing your experience in Israel. I appreciate the reminder to simply slow down and behold!

    • Andy Strauss on September 7, 2022 at 3:33 pm

      Hi! Thanks for your support! It really was an incredible time. I’m glad you were encouraged!

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