Old faces, like old places, are proven by the test of time. Just think about it for a moment. Every major decision you’ve made was grounded with an old face, in an old place—and then confirmed over time! Or try reversing it. When you think of an old face or an old place, what comes to your mind? Probably some significant point of transformation in your spiritual journey. That’s why we go out of our way to reconnect with those special old faces. It’s why we retrace our steps back to those special old places.
Listen to the Wise Old Lady going out into various places and crying out to each of us: “Turn in here. At all costs, get wisdom ” (Prov. 8:1-21, 32-36):
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).
A man of too many friends [acquaintances] comes to ruin [will be broken], but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Prov. 17:17).
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the face of his friend (Prov. 27:17).
If we would be wise or skillful in living life to the fullest, we must heed our Wise Old Lady’s call: Find a few wise old faces, faithful faces to whom we can glue ourselves, especially in times of adversity and let them sharpen us into Christlikeness.
So why in the world would God bring me all the way to Israel to reconnect with a couple of old faces in this unique old place? I have no idea yet. God’s ways often seem out of the way, but since He is God and I’m not, His ways always prove to be the best ways.
So a few days ago, Phillip and I made our way up north to the ancient Canaanite and Israelite city of Megiddo, located in the strategic Valley of Jezreel. If the name Megiddo sounds familiar, it’s because we described it in detail in my recent Book of Revelation Class: “Har-Magedon” [lit. “Mount of Megiddo”] or Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). Hopefully many of your remember it, right? But for those of you who don’t remember or those of you who joined us on our Israel journey, Megiddo is a very old place, going back some 6,000 years! But its history is nothing compared to its prophecy. The Valley of Megiddo will become the final gathering (and resting) place for all the anti-Christian nations of the world. As these armies gather in the Valley of Megiddo for the last great apocalyptic confrontation, “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 16:14), their leaders will challenge the Lord of glory with their latest word in military strategy. But our Lord Yeshua will have the last Word: “From [the Lord’s] mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’” (Rev. 19: 15-16).
And guess what, we’ll be on the winning side: “Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!” (Zech. 14:5b). “Behold, the Lord is coming with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 14-15). “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [not a donkey this second time], and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True [cf. 1:5; 3:7; in contrast to the Beast], and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems [the royal, sovereign crown]; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean [cf. 19:8], were following Him on white horses” (Rev. 19:11-14). “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns” (Rev. 19:6b).
So back to our own little journey to this place of Megiddo. As Phillip and I were nudging our way through the twenty plus layers of civilizations at Tell Megiddo. Nothing so unusual about that, other than the fact that we were the only two guys at Megiddo except one small group. As I glanced over my left shoulder, I thought I noticed a familiar old face. Then I realized this was really an old familiar face: Larry Feldman. Larry is a wonderful messianic leader of a congregation in Southern California (plus a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate). I have known Larry and Fran for more years than we would like to remember. And to make matters even more emphatic, God pumped us into them again on the next day at Tel Dan. Old friends in old places have an incredible way of sharpening us, don’t they.
“Old faces, like old places, are proven by the test of time.”
The next day as Phillip and I were having our last breakfast at Beit Bracha [“House of Blessing”], our home-base for our northern Israel explorations, I looked over my left shoulder, and who did I notice? (You better be sitting down for this one!) None other than Dr. Ted Martin. You are probably wondering, “Who in the world is Dr. Ted Martin?” Dr. Martin was the Director of Campus Crusade for Christ’s Institute of Biblical Studies at Arrowhead Springs, Calif. (CCC’s headquarters in those days), in the summer of 1966. Having just graduated from UCLA as a new believer, I attended to Dr. Martin’s IBS. And you guessed it: I hadn’t seen Dr. Ted Martin since the summer of 1966. That’s right: 44 years ago! The real miracle was not that I just happened to spot Dr. Martin, but that I actually remembered his face and his name. (Who says that God can’t still work in an old face, in an old place!) Ted and his wife Gwen have been on CCC’s Staff for 50 years. Ted is 79 years old and still going hard after the Lord and His kingdom work. Old friends in old places have an incredible way of sharpening us, don’t they.
“Old faces, like old places, are proven by the test of time.”
So as we end our journey to Israel (we’re heading home on Monday, July 19th.), I want to thank each of you for making it possible and for coming along with us. You are our old faces who joined us in some old places, over just a short time (for this time). But we’re inviting you to join us next summer on our next journey to God’s old place so that we might all catch a glimpse of the One and Only Old Face, the only Face that never grows old! For to catch a glimpse of this amazing Old Face is to be transformed into His image, no matter what old place we find ourselves (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).
To our Lord Yeshua, the Eternally Young Face, be glory and honor and praise, now and forever!