DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 23: NAZARETH, MEGIDDO, MT. CARMEL, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM
This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. Following breakfast, checkout, and loading, we left shortly after 7:30 this morning. The weather changed from our last three sunny days. Today we had off and on rain and sun the entire day, with high temps in the low 60s. Thankfully at most sites, we avoided the heavier rains. Rain is predicted the rest of the week for Jerusalem.
Precipice of Nazareth
We drove to the region of the Lower Galilee towards Nazareth. Going through Cana (John 2) and the outskirts of Nazareth (Luke 1), we arrived at the Precipice of Nazareth. Here we enjoyed our first full view of the Jezreel Valley below. On our way to the overview, we saw a number of mandrake plants (Genesis 30, Song of Songs 7). Looking out to the Jezreel Valley, we could envision all of these stories unfolding: We read about Deborah and Barak battling on Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), Gideon fighting the Midianites on the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Saul and his sons dying on Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). We also read from Luke 4 about Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue. We were invited to “come and see” (John 1) Jesus in the light of His Messiahship.
From here we continued through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo (Har Megiddo in Hebrew), which gave its name to Armageddon (Revelation 16). This site has over two dozen archaeological layers spanning a time period of about 2,500 years! After seeing the model of the ancient city, we climbed the site. We saw some of the many ruins here, including three gate structures, storage rooms, a sacrificial altar, and the grain silo. We read from Rev. 16 and celebrated that in the last day, God has the final word! We exited the site by walking down 180+ steps through the water system. The engineering of this system was extraordinary!
Driving southwest, we climbed Mt. Carmel, a mountain range about 13 miles long that separates the Jezreel Valley with the Sharon Plain. After eating lunch at a Druze restaurant, we arrived at a place called Muhraqah (“burnt offering”) near by. In the chapel we read the OT story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7. We sang a few songs here as well, celebrating the awesomeness of God! Walking to the rooftop of the chapel provided us our third view of the Jezreel Valley below.
Our last site of the day is located on the shoreline of the Sharon Plain. Caesarea was a city built by King Herod in 22 BC. He was indeed a great builder. Starting in the theater, we read from Acts 10, 12, and 26 (Peter, Herod Antipas, and Paul). Walking north we saw the palace (where Paul was bound?), the hippodrome, many Roman mosaics, and the areas where the Temple of Augustus and Herod’s harbor once stood. We exited the site through a Crusader gate. Before leaving for Jerusalem, we briefly stopped at the aqueduct.
It took about 2.5 hours to drive through the Tel Aviv area and up to the Hill Country of Judah to Jerusalem. Traffic in Jerusalem was backed up because of Vice-President Pence being here today. We arrived at our hotel, checked in, and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner an optional walk was offered to the Western Wall. 16 went on the walk. To see this most holy site for the Jews today at night was amazing!
We are looking forward to three full days here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel!