DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26:
Today was our first full day here in Israel. The skies would be sunny and clear, with a high in the low 80s.
After a great breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove north about 20 minutes to Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great between 22-10 BC. After a brief movie about the history of the site, we gathered in the theater. Here we read from Acts 10, 12, & 26 (about Peter, Herod Agrippa, and Paul). We celebrate the boldness of both Peter and Paul in proclaiming their faith in Christ. We also saw the palace, the hippodrome, mosaics, part of the Crusader city, the harbor, statutes, and the aqueduct that brought water in from the Carmel Range. We also saw a replica of the Pilate Inscription found here in 1961.
Mt. Carmel was our next stop. On the highest peak called Muhraqa, we read from 1 Kings 18 about the story of Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal and Asherah here. With God’s help, Elijah defeated the odds! We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7. From the roof of the small chapel we got our first view (of three) of the Jezreel Valley below. Although it was hazy, we could see the Nazareth Ridge (Luke 4), Mt. Tabor (Judge 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).
Following lunch (and for some our first falafel), we descended down to the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This is an archaeological site that has over two dozen layers of ruins. Megiddo was a Canaanite city taken by Thutmose III and later again by Joshua (Joshua 12). We saw a map of the region as well as a model before climbing to the top of the tel. Here we saw three ancient gate structures, Solomon’s stables, an Early Bronze altar, and an Israelite grain silo. We remembered what Revelation 16 says about Armageddon and we celebrated God’s ultimate victory that will come when Christ returns! We left the site by descending 180 steps down through the water system.
Sepporis was our next site. Here we saw Roman streets, shops, houses, and amazing mosaics (including the Mona Lisa of the Galilee). This city was located only 4-5 miles from Nazareth. Although not mentioned in the Bible, it is likely that Jesus visited this Hellenized-Jewish city.
We ended the day by driving to the Precipice of Nazareth. The view of the Jezreel Valley below (along with Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, Mt. Gilboa, and Mt Carmel) was one that no doubt Jesus saw when he grew up in Nazareth. We paused to read Luke 4 and John 1 and were invited to “come and see” Jesus in the context of this place. It was a special time of reflection!
Driving to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee, we arrived at Nof Ginnosar, our “kibbutz-hotel” for the next three nights. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a nice walk down to the water’s edge.
DAY 4 – THURSDAY, APRIL 27: SEA OF GALILEE, GOLAN HEIGHTS, DAN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, BENTAL, QATZRIN, GAMLA