DAY 3 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5:
Today was our first full day here in Israel and it was a good one! With sunny skies greeting us, with eventual highs in the high 80s, we loaded our bus after breakfast and drove to Caesarea. Located in the Shalom Plain, this was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Walking from one end of the city to the other, we saw the theater, the palace, the hippodrome, the Crusader part of the city, the harbor (used by Paul), and the aqueduct that brought fresh water into the city from the Carmel Range. We read from Acts 10 (Peter and Cornelius), Acts 12 (Agrippa), and Acts 26 (Paul).
Driving to our region, the Carmel Range, we ascended the highest peak called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”) today. Here we heard the story (1 Kings 18) about Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. We also remembered other passages that connect us to this region (2 Kings 4, Song of Songs 7, Isaiah 35, and Amos 1). After entering the small chapel to sing a few songs, we went to the rooftop for our first view of there Jezreel Valley. From here we enjoyed lunch nearby.
Following lunch, we descended down to the valley and to the ancient site of Megiddo. This is a large archaeological site with over 2 dozen levels of ruins spanning a time period of about 2,500 years. After seeing a model of the site, we climbed the tel (ancient mound). We saw two difference Canaanite gates, a Solomonic gate, stables, and a granary/grain silo). We stopped to look across the valley where we could see Mt. Gilboa (1 Sam. 31), the Hill or More (Judges 6-7), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), and the Nazareth Ridge. We also celebrated Christ’s victorious return and the end-time battle where God has the final word (Rev. 16 and the Valley of Armageddon). We left the site by descending down 180 steps through the water system.
Driving across the Jezreel Valley we came to Sepporis. Even though this city (located only 4-5 miles from Nazareth) is not mentioned directly in the Bible, it was the most prominent site at the time of Jesus. Here we saw lots of Roman ruins including many mosaics. The most famous being the Mona Lisa of the Galilee mosaic.
We ended the day by ascending to the precipice of Nazareth. Here we saw the Jezreel Valley from yet a different perspective. We read from Luke 4 (Jesus in the synagogue) and John 1. It was Phillip who invited us to “come and see” Jesus! We enjoyed a quiet reflection time before getting back on the bus and driving through Cana (John 2) to our hotel located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee north of Tiberias.
As we arrived at Nof Ginnosar our “kibbutz-hotel” for the next three nights, the full moon over the Sea of Galilee was spectacular! We enjoyed dinner together and a free evening.
DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6: GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN, ABEL BEIT MAACAHby