I have not been to Israel. It is not that I have never wanted to go, or that I have never had the opportunity to go, I have just been unable to work out the details to make the trip a reality. Life is complicated. Trips are expensive. And did I mention that trips are expensive?
Recently I have been thinking about my desire to visit Israel that I added it to my “Bucket List.” I have many things on my “Bucket List” that I want to see and do. I won’t bore you here with the list, it grows sometimes by the hour. And as I have been thinking about this vacation trip to Israel I been thinking through this question:
Would a trip to Israel be a pilgrimage?
In ancient times it was a requirement to make a pilgrimage to the Temple three times a year. In Deuteronomy 16 we read about the Festival of the Passover (verses 1-8), the Festival of Weeks (verses 9-12) and Festival of Tabernacles (verses 10-15) and the requirement to be at the place God chose (I assume the Temple, verse 16).
It is recorded in Luke 2:41-52 that Jesus and his family made the pilgrimage to the Temple when he was younger. In this passage we are unsure of the age of Jesus but we get a demonstration of his wisdom and knowledge and his ability to reason. People started to notice him.
With the fall of the Temple in AD70 pilgrimages to Israel were no longer required. Today pilgrimages are made to the local synagogue to worship and celebrate what God has done.
So what about me, a Christian man? I am required to make a pilgrimage?
Many people make pilgrimages to Israel, the Temple Mount, the Wailing Wall and other historic sights. Others make a pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican City. Still others make a pilgrimage to the birth place or the resting place of Saints that have made an incredible contribution and personal sacrifice to Christianity. But no where in scriptures (from a Christian perspective) do I see a requirement to make a pilgrimage.
It is unfortunate.
Pilgrimage to me requires sacrifice. A pilgrimage is not a vacation or a sight seeing trip. There is no need for a tour guide on a pilgrimage. It is a time of worship and celebration and remembrance of what God has done and is doing. One of the requirements of pilgrimage was that you do not show up empty handed, everyone was to bring a gift proportional to size of God’s blessings on you.
Passover is approaching and today marks day one of the Lenten season. Today I start my personal, spiritual pilgrimage, what gift do I bring?