Israel and Middle East

History of Middle East in 90 Seconds

by Steve Ray on February 11, 2018

Fascinating moving map. Click the image below to see biblical and modern history of the volatile and ever-changing Middle East.

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Since today we are at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I thought I share an e-mail I received from a man whose Protestant friend just returned from the Holy Land a bit disillusioned and skeptical. Here is the e-mail I received:

Hi Steve, Here’s the question in brief (read more if you have time). How do we know that the sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are authentic?

A Protestant friend of mine recently took a trip to the Holy Land and when he returned we had some discussions about the sites. He raised his doubts about the authenticity of some of the sites, and in particular about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He made some disparaging comments about “the liturgical church” and how they build churches on top of everything (in a tone as if they have been ruined or desecrated), and how they don’t even know that they are the real locations.

So my question to you: How do we know that these sites are authentic. I’m sure you don’t have time to give a full dissertation, but if you could point me to a good book or website I would appreciate it. Thanks for all you good work.

I responded briefly below. I had no time to craft my response carefully but wrote it in the few minutes I have. My next group is arriving and there is a lot to do here in Galilee to get ready.

Historical Progression of Church of Holy Sepulchre

Greetings from Galilee and the AUTHENTIC sites of Our Lord and Lady. I wrote three articles I hope you find helpful:

1) Holy Sites: Are these the Actual Locations.
2) Holy Ground: Thoughts on Visiting Israel.
3) Archaeology: The Stones Cry Out

My guess is your friend had a Jewish guide and like most of them he was an unbelieving skeptic. I listen to them speak to their groups and it is too often a travesty. People often leave with less faith than when they arrived due to the way the guides belittle Catholic sentiments, turning a tour into a political trip.

The site of the birth of Christ and Calvary and the Tomb are NOT up for questions (thought some Protestants have their own alternate site which is obviously not authentic, read about it in my book St. John’s Gospel). The Catholic sites are historically, archaeologically and biblically certain. They have been from the first centuries.

Our Group at Holy Sepulchre Learning and Praying at Authentic Sites

Most Protestants dislike them because they are “liturgical,” very Catholic and Orthodox. Protestants are the Johnny-come-latelys and as such they feel neglected and out of place in most of the holy sites. While Catholics celebrate the age-old Mass in the holy sites like we’ve done for 2,000 years, the Protestants are relegated to sitting under a tree reading the Bible and singing hymns, learning from their guides why no one really knows anything for sure.

Once I heard a Jewish guide say to a Catholic group in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: “Here we are at what some people believe is the place Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead (he actually believes neither). No one knows if this is really the place. It is all a matter of your faith. OK, look around and let’s go to the next site.”

The Real Place the Resurrection Took Place

With our groups we give the reasons we KNOW it is the site based on good evidence and history and archaeology, we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries and gather in front of the Tomb for a Mass and as the priest comes out of the Tomb with the consecrated host we see Jesus come out of the Tomb again sacramentally.

I understand your friend since I see it every day. I feel sorry for those who’ve spent a lot of money to see this land and understand their faith and often go home less sure then when they came. It is not ALL groups but is all to frequent. I don’t want to hear from the exception to this travesty since I know there are exceptions, but I see the other far too often.

You can be sure about the sites (at least the major ones) and when I lead a group people are in tears and full of joy and discovery and go home better Catholics, sure of their faith and ready to die for Christ if need be.

We just dropped off one group and today pick up another group at the Tel Aviv Airport. We are excited to show them the sites, watch tears well up in their eyes, see daily conversions with a deeper love for Our Lord and Lady. We never tire of doing this because we BELIEVE and KNOW what we are doing is true, authentic and has an eternal weight of glory.

(I may be criticized by some for my disparaging comments. I do not intend to disparage but to get the pendulum back where it belongs. I want people to know what they are seeing and know why some come home more skeptical than they left.)

COMMENT JUST RECEIVED FROM A PAST PILGRIM:

Martha wrote: “Hello Steve: I can relate….the first time we went to the Holy Land I felt somewhat the same way. However, 4 years later we returned, this time with Steve and Janet and everything became crystal clear…truly life altering. Hope to return soon, so much to absorb and learn with the right guides and teachers ( once again). Thanks for this refresher course!”

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3,000 Years in 90 Seconds

by Steve Ray on February 3, 2018

MapsOfWar.jpgVery cool map animation. Watch the history of the Middle East (and beyond) unfold with an interactive map showing the various civilizations that have ruled the region from ancient Egypt to modern times.

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Security in Israel: Safe to Travel with Steve & Janet?

December 26, 2017

UPDATE 12/11/17:  Watching the mainstream media today and making a few observations. 1) The images they keep showing are not current events but are pulled from stock video footage from the past. I doubt that any of the images of rock throwing and tear gas is current video. 2) They are making this violence, which is very small at […]

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

December 18, 2017

In a few days we are leaving for Bethlehem. We will have Mass next week at a lot of holy sites with our group of Catholic families. To the left is a picture of Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. How do we know this is really Gethsemane? In a few days […]

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My EWTN TV Show with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin

November 30, 2017

Here is the show aired a few weeks ago on EWTN. It was my appearance on the Franciscan University Presents with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin. It was a fun show about “Abraham: Father of Faith and Works” and the whole story of salvation. Enjoy!

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Muslim Palestinian Explains Why He Serves in Israeli Army

November 29, 2017

I know many other Arabs in Israel that feel the same way. It needs to be known to a wider audience.

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

November 3, 2017

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a […]

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U.N. Condemns Israel – then Silenced with Lone Voice of Reason

July 5, 2017
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I’m thinking we are wrong about Assad and Syria…

April 8, 2017

My recent Tweets: I’m thinking we were wrong about Syria, who used the gas and President Assad. Why was attack launched before full investigation? What did Assad have to gain? Why do local Christians support Assad? Too many questions. Bishop of Jerusalem told me USA was wrong and Russia right in regard to Syria. The […]

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Is Islam a Religion of Peace? A Profound Short Video from a Brilliant Muslim Women!

March 30, 2017

I suggest everyone listen/watch this short video. She puts it all in perspective in a few minutes. Pass this on to others. We need to wake up!

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Devastation of Christian Towns In Iraq by ISIS – Short Video

March 20, 2017

A visit to the Chaldean Christian town of Karemlash, 9 miles from Mosul, liberated from ISIS by Iraqi and Kurdish forces in November 2016. I sure hope and pray the world wakes up and stops this carnage. I am glad President Trump has promised – and is doing something already to end this.

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What Kind of Music Did Abraham Listen To?

February 27, 2017

Our next DVD in the Footprints of God series will be entitled “Abraham, Father of Faith & Works.” We will begin filming in Iraq — in Ur of Chaldees — which is the home of Abraham, just south of Baghdad (Gen 11:28-31). Thanks to the Biblical Archaeology Society to which I subscribe, we can now listen to music […]

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Bob Dylan’s “Neighborhood Bully” song about Israel – I Like it!

January 13, 2017

Lyrics to “Neighborhood Bully” by Bob Dylan Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man His enemies say he’s on their land They got him outnumbered about a million to one He got no place to escape to, no place to run He’s the neighborhood bully. The neighborhood bully he just lives to survive He’s […]

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Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu Addresses Christians on Christmas

December 26, 2016

Janet and I are currently on our way to Israel to pick up our group of 100 passengers. This is a Family Holy Land Pilgrimage and we have a LOT of children on the trip. We want to impress them with the Truth of Christianity so that as they grow up they will never lose […]

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Thanks to Assad and Putin…

December 25, 2016

Are you against Syrian President Bashar Assad like Obama and Hilary are? Thanks to Putin/Assad Catholics in Aleppo have Christmas Mass 1st time in 5 years! Assad has always supported and protected the Christians. How can our country get it so wrong? Read more HERE.

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