DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full day here in Israel. The sun greeted us in the morning and at sunset, with some clouds and a few showers in between. Also, the 11 on the delayed flight from London arrived to the hotel at 6:05 a.m. We squeezed in a quick shower and breakfast before departing.
Leaving the hotel around 7:45, we drove north in the Sharon Plain to Caesarea Maritima. This was a city located along the Mediterranean Sea. It was built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. It took 12 years to complete. Sitting in the reconstructed theater, we read from Acts 10, 12, and 26 about the bold ministry and testimonies of Peter and Paul. Paul spent two years here before sailing to Rome from the massive harbor. Philip was also here (Acts 21). Among the other ruins we saw the palace, the hippodrome, mosaics, statues, and the Crusader city. Before leaving the site, we saw the aqueduct as well.
From here we drove the Carmel Range. We first enjoyed lunch at a Druze restaurant. Following this falafel meal, we drove to the top of this mountain range called Muhraqa. The elevation is about 1,500 feet above sea level. This is a Carmelite chapel built a few hundred years ago on the highest peak of the Carmel. We read from Song of Songs 7, Isaiah 33 and 35, and 1 Kings 18. This last passage records the bold confrontation of Elijah upon the 450 prophets of Baal. In the chapel we sang a few songs as well, celebrating the awesomeness of God! The view of the Jezreel Valley from the rooftop of the chapel was fairly good despite the cloud cover and showers.
“Today was a great first day here in Israel. One big surprise is how close the ancient cities were from one another. As Dr. John said, ‘proximities matter’ when it comes to understanding the Bible.” – Tour Member –
Descending down off the upper slopes of Carmel, we came to Megiddo. This was a late Canaanite and late Israelite city guarding the primary pass (e.g. entrance) into the wider Jezreel Valley. Climbing the tel (e.g. ancient mound), we saw three series of gates, fortification walls, a stable, remnants of the palace, a sacrificial altar, a grain silo, and the water system. Unfortunately, this interesting water system was still closed form the heavy rains of January. The biblical connections we made as Joshua 12 (Megiddo was one of the 31 cities destroyed by Joshua). Solomon also re-fortified the city (1 Kings 9). King Josiah also gets critically injured here by Pharaoh Necho of Eypt (2 Chr. 34).
Precipice of Nazareth
Our last visit took us to the top of the Precipice of Nazareth. The sun broke through as we walked to the top. The view of Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh Judges 6-7), Mt. Gilboa 1 Samuel 31) was fairly clear. Considering the life and ministry of Jesus, we read from Luke 4. We celebrated the uniqueness of Jesus’ ministry as we heeded Philip’s own words of challenge, “Come and see” (John 1). It was a meaningful time of reflection together!
We drove through modern-day Cana to get to our hotel in Tiberias. We enjoyed a great dinner followed by a free evening. We hope everyone will rest well tonight!
DAY 4 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20: GAMLA, QATZRIN, SYRIAN BORDER, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN