What is the best way to prepare for a trip to the Holy Land? This is a question that I get frequently. There are a number of good answers, but the best answers will surely make sure that the preparation goes beyond passport applications and luggage allowances. The best preparation is that which will help you get the most out of what you are seeing.
I have long recommended Carl Rasmussen’s Zondervan Atlas of the Bible as an excellent resource for learning the land. The combination of the geographical overviews and the historical survey is ideal. So I’m quite happy suggesting that people read all or portions of this atlas before their trip.
Now Dr. Rasmussen has a new resource available: Encountering the Holy Land: A Video Introduction to the History and Geography of the Bible. Thirteen sessions, each about 20 minutes, give a solid introduction to the biblical places and events.
I tend to be a book (over video) guy, but for this subject, video has tremendous advantages. The resource was filmed on location in Israel, and the high quality of production makes full use of drone footage, charts, diagrams, and maps. This makes the video format superior in many ways to a book for studying the land of Israel.
I really like how Zondervan is making this resource available through multiple channels, reducing the obstacles for people with different preferences. Old-fashioned guys like me can buy the course on DVD (only $35). It’s also available on Amazon Prime Video. And Zondervan has a new MasterLectures program which gives you full access to all of their line-up for a modest monthly subscription of $20. By pairing excellent instruction with first-rate production and wise distribution, I predict this series will be very successful.
Here’s how I would use it. Before taking a church or student trip to Israel, suggest or require the participants to watch the series. It’s also a great review when you return. (OK, it’s probably not truly a “review,” because in all likelihood, Dr. Rasmussen explains many things that your tour guide won’t.) This is a series designed to increase your knowledge and love for the Bible and the land where God revealed himself. Dr. Rasmussen has a high view of Scripture, and I have no reservations in recommending it to all. I’m very thankful to have such a great resource to recommend from now on.
You can watch the first session for free at the MasterLectures site or below.