DAY 9 – MONDAY, JANUARY 22: REFLECTION DAY – MT. ARBEL & MT. OF BEATITUDES
Today was our reflection day! The sun was bright and the temps were perfect (with highs in low 70s) on this day set aside to focus on Jesus and His kingdom teaching.
Located on the NW corner and only 5 minutes away from our hotel is Mt. Arbel. This was our destination for the morning. Arbel is the highest peak on this side of the Sea of Galilee, rising about 800 feet about the lake below. Leaving the hotel around 8 a.m., 21 in the group got dropped off at the trail head that traverses to the top of the mountain. The hike took about 75 minutes. We passed by a number of cliffs used as hiding places by Jews in the 1st century. With hand-holds to use the last 20 minutes, we crested the top. The others in the group enjoyed bussing around through Tiberias and hiking about 300 yards up the back side.
With both groups meeting at the top, we read from Luke 4 about how Jesus Himself went to a solitary place on occasion. Spreading out on the top and with a spectacular view in front of us, each of us enjoyed a time of solitude and reflection. We then gathered together to paint a stone we collected. This stone will serve as a reminder of our time on Arbel and our encounter with God.
Before we left the site, we made a brief stop to see the 4th century AD Jewish synagogue here. It was not as impressive as other ones we’ve seen, but still quite interesting. Driving to Tiberias from here, we enjoyed lunch in the new Tiberias Mall (some had shawarma, while others had either pizza, frozen yogurt, gelato, or McDonalds).
Mt. of Beatitudes
Following lunch, we drove to the Mt. of Beatitudes. We walked to the rocky hillside just outside the Catholic chapel built here. We first heard the Beatitudes read in Hebrew by Shlomo. Then in English we contemplated these kingdom principles in English. Spreading out and finding our location on the hillside, we then read the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on our own. To consider these words of Jesus right here was special! We were challenged to live out these kingdom principles by allowing the reign and rule of God to lead and guide our spiritual walk!
We ended this day of reflection by walking down the hill. The path lead to the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.
From here we returned to our hotel for some free time, dinner, and a free evening. Some even braved the cooler waters (this time of year) of the Sea of Galilee and took a swim.
It was another impactful day here in northern Israel!