On my recent trip to Israel one of the areas we went to was Samaria. I was looking forward to going here and had hopes of meeting a Samaritan women. Have you ever found yourself envisioning what you think a place will look like and you get there only to discover it looks nothing like you had imagined. That was my experience with Samaria. Samaria is a small town. The population is only 750. Most of the homes and buildings are very old. The city was littered with debris and trash here and there. Samaritan's believe Jesus was the Messiah, but they also believe another messiah (not Jesus) is coming back. They believe only in the Old Testament and read the five books of Moses. They still do animal sacrifices as payment for their sins. The sacrifice area is out in the open in the center of town.
Before we arrived in Samaria we had a lesson on the area and the people who are Samaritans. During our lesson I began to get a clearer picture of why Jews and Samaritans were not supposed to talk, marry, or worship with one another. There is a long standing history within Samaria. The part that has stuck with me has been how Samaritans became Samaritans. The Israelites made a covenant with God stating what they would and would not do. They broke this covenant over and over, knowing there would consequences.
One of the consequences was that the Lord allowed the Assyrian's to conqueror the Israelites (Jews) in Samaria. The Assyrians hated the Jewish people and were willing to do anything they could to get rid of the Jews. They knew it would be impossible to kill every Jew, so they decided to corrupt their blood line. They captured Jewish men in Samaria and took them to their homeland in Northern Iraq making them slaves. They relocated Assyrian men to take their place. They broke up families and forced women to marry Assyrian men. The women had no choice, as they were unable to care for themselves at this point in history. Thus, corrupting the blood line making the next generation mixed- half Jewish half Assyrian. This created a division between the full Jewish population and the now half Jewish population
When we make a covenant and then we break it, we never know how far down the line our broken promise will affect generation to generation. I know that God doesn't allow things to happen that He doesn't know about. God uses everything for His purpose and glory. Sometimes we may not see this for years and years and maybe we wont even be alive when the end result is played out, however, that is where faith must come in.
There was more significance to Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well than we realize. During this time there was division and tension between the Jews and the Samaritans. For Jesus (a Jew) to speak to the (Samaritan) women was a big deal, however, speaking to the woman was not as significant as the location, and the fact that this was the first time that Jesus proclaimed He was the Messiah out loud. The area where Jacobs Well is located is the same location where God appeared to Abram and made three powerful promises (Genesis 12:1-3). Abram built a memorial alter to commemorate these promises. Jacob later purchased the land and built his own memorial alter and dug a well to serve those who came to worship.The well was still in use (and still is) at the time of Jesus and the Samaritan womens conversation (John 4:6). The area where the well is located is where Moses read the law of God to the people (Deuteronomy chapter 27 & 28, Joshua 8:30-35). Given all of the historical events that took place at this site it is no coincidence that Jesus pronounced His messianic identity here. And when He did, He did it to a Samaritan woman.
This is our HOPE! Even when the Israelite's broke their covenant with God and suffered consequences, there was redemption. Many years and events went on before this happens, however, our concept of time and justice can not compare to God's purpose and plans. God is intentional with everything. We may have to dig a little deeper to see the whole picture. We may have to allow our faith to stand in the gap of time, but there is always HOPE!
ps While we were in Samaria I did not get to meet a Samaritan woman, however, I did meet a Samaritan man and that is who is in the picture with me.