Every Christmas Eve as suspended candlelight flickers through lantern glass in my television from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I long to be there. As Holy Fire ignites from darkness, and expands wildly through the sharing of the faithful, in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre each Pascha, my heart is in another land. We Christians are all drawn powerfully, even perhaps, against our better judgment, to Jerusalem. Yet this seat of the birth of three great world religions is a place of both birth and strife.
The mountain that my family and I live on is considered the center of the world by the Chumash -- the point where everything is in balance. It has been their holy place for centuries. We live here with respect for that heritage and belief. We tread lightly here, in deference to their belief, and in honor of the mountain that they hold sacred. Yet, our Holy Land is in another place, and -- in many ways -- is truly the center of the world. It is easy to forget this, living in American comfort and relative safety. All of those prophecies and spiritual events connected with Jerusalem studiously tucked away at the back of ones mind. They can surely be unpacked and confronted at a later time, can't they? Yet, as I came upon Dateline Jerusalem: An Eyewitness Account of Prophecies Unfolding in the Middle East as a publisher's book review offering, I knew that one must sweep out ones corners and face the reality of sacred history's unfolding.
I was not disappointed. Chris Mitchell, bureau chief for Christian Broadcasting Network, draws upon his years of firsthand experiences and reporting in Jerusalem to deliver an explanation of the events sweeping across the Holy Land and impacting the world in our day. His insights are both personal and well informed. I found the story gripping and exciting -- something that I was not anticipating. I also found myself alarmed at the reality and depth of the conflict between Israel and the extremist Muslim world. Mitchell's elucidation of the connection of current events to Biblical prophecy is immensely informative.
I'm glad I read this book. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in understanding events in the Middle East. Even more, as a result of having read this book, I have a greater understanding that, as Christians, we are the Middle East in many ways. Our home is there; much like Mt. Pinos to the Chumash, it is the center of our world. As Mitchell admonishes, we can pray -- for peace, for God's will, for the unfolding of the Kingdom-- calling upon God facing East, with our hearts toward Jerusalem.