March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 8


Today was a “cross-over” day once again. We awoke to Sammy’s (our guide) unique “wakie wakie” wake-up call. So we rolled out of our tents here in Wadi Rum around 6 am. The warm sun greeted us, with high temps at the end of the day about 90.

Jordan-Israel Crossing / Read Sea – Coral Beach

Red Sea

The beautiful Red Sea in Elat, Israel

Driving from Wadi Rum to the southern border crossing at Aqaba/Elat took about an hour. With no groups ahead of us, this Rabin crossing only took about an hour. David and Shlomo greeted us on the other side. After loading up the bus, we drove to Coral Beach where a number of people enjoyed a swim in the Red Sea. The water was clear and the coral and fish were amazing!

Timnah – Tabernacle Model

Tabernacle Model

The Tabernacle Model at Timnah

Driving north about 20 miles we arrived at Timnah. In the 13th century BC, this was the site of an Egyptian copper mine. After seeing a brief movie about the copper found here, we drove to the display of a full-size Tabernacle was described in the Old Testament. 150 x 75 feet was the size. 50 chapters in the OT are dedicated to the design, building, and use of this Tent of Meeting. We were guided around the model, seeing in the courtyard the sacrificial altar and the bronze laven. In the Holy Chamber we saw the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, and the Incense Altar. The priest and High Priest were also adorned in their garments. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. We read from Hebrews 9 about how Jesus came to fulfill the sacrificial system once and for all.


Ice cream Yotvata

Enjoying some ice cream at Yotvata

For lunch we drove just a few miles north to a dairy-kibbutz called Yotvata. Here we met Shlomo’s sister. We also enjoyed incredible ice cream here!

Dead Sea

Send Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

We drove just shy of two hours to our hotel located on the southern end of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47). Upon checking in, many quickly changed and walked down to the shoreline of the Dead Sea. This unique body of water is about 33% salt and mineral, making it impossible to sink. As the sun set to the west, the appearance of the Jordanian mountains on the other side took almost a pink color. To float here was a fun experience! After getting showers, we enjoyed dinner and a free night.


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 7


Today was an amazing day here in Jordan! Between the beauty of God’s creation and the unique experiences at both Petra and Wadi Rum, we are grateful to God. The weather was perfect again, with full sun, cloudless deep blue skies, and temps in the 70s.


Treasury Petra Jordan

The famous “Treasury” at Petra, Jordan

Following an earlier breakfast we departed at 7 am for the entrance of Petra. We would spend about 6.5 hours within this red-rose ancient city. We are here in the Seir Mountains, the land of the Edomites as mentioned in the Bible. We began our experience here with walking into the site of Petra through the canyon called the Siq. At the end of the Siq we came to the most prominent and well-known monument called “The Treasury” (Al-Khazneh). This well-preserved monumental tomb appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” It served as the tomb of Aretas III or IV (who Paul actually mentions in 2 Cor. 11).

From the Treasury, the site opens up. Walking further we past 100s of other tombs/burial chambers as well as one of the largest theaters in Jordan. Carved into the sand stone, this theater could hold 3000 people!

Monastery Tomb

The Monastery Tomb at Petra, Jordan

Just past the theater are the Royal Tombs. Some in the group explored these while others hiked to the western edge of Petra to the famous Monastery Tomb. The hike ascended about 750 feet in elevation over the course of about 900 steps, but it was well worth it. The view from above the Monastery provided the opportunity to look westward into Israel and the Aravah Valley & southern Negev. A couple in the group also hiked to the top of the High Place.

We all walked back to the entrance on our own, enjoying the unique beauty of this site. What an incredible place Petra is. It is one of the seven wonders of the world.

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

Jeep Rides at Wadi Rum, Jordan

Driving south and a little east about two hours, we arrive at Wadi Rum. This Jordanian desert is known for the story of Sir Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. Here we enjoyed a jeep ride through the desert. We stopped for a few panoramic views as well as for the sunset as we listened to a few worship songs.

Captains Bedouin Tent “Hotel”

The jeeps took us to our dwelling for the night, a Bedouin Tent facility called Captains. We enjoyed a unique dinner (with the meat prepared in an underground pit covered in sand), with a camp-fire under the brilliant stars to follow. Truly, the heavens declare the glory of God! We retired to our own individual camel-wool tents for the evening!


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 6


This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. We were once again greeted with sun, with eventual high temps in the 70s. Perfect once again!

Kinneret Cemetery

Rachel the Poet

“Rachel the Poet’s” grave – Kinneret Cemetery

Leaving at 7:15 following breakfast, we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Kinneret Cemetery. This was a cemetery used by early Jewish pioneers to the land. We stood around the grave of a certain Rachel (Bluwstein). She immigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1909 and died in 1931. She is known for her poetry. She even appears on the new 20 shekel bill.

Jordan Border Crossing/Jerash

Jerash Jordan

Jerash Jordan

Driving south about 20 miles through the Jordan Valley, we made our crossing into Jordan at the Sheik Border Crossing. With a little patience, we crossed without any issues. We we met on the Jordan side by our Jordanian guide, Sammy, and our driver.

After loading the bus, we drove about an hour and half to Jeresh. This was a huge Decopolis city of the Romans. Here we saw many things, including the hippodrome, the massive theater, and Temple of Athena, the many other ancient ruins.

Mt. Nebo

Mt. Nebo

The view of Israel from Mt. Nebo

Driving south through the edge of Amman we arrived at Mt. Nebo. Here we looked westward into back into Israel (the Promised Land) as Moses did before he died on this mountain. We read from Deuteronomy 34 and Joshua 1. We were encouraged to be “strong and courageous” in our walk of faith. Before leaving, we also saw the newly renovated chapel built over the ruins of a Byzantine church (4-5th century AD). The mosaics were beautiful! We also stopped briefly at a mosaic shop. Here we saw a replica of the Medeba Map, a 6th century AD map of the Holyland.

Drive to Petra

From here we continued through the city of Medeba and drove south on the Desert Highway to Petra. The drive took about 3.5 hours, with a short break on the way. Arriving at our hotel we enjoyed a late dinner together before retiring for the night. We are looking forward to visiting Petra early tomorrow!


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 5


Today was a day of focusing upon the life and ministry of Jesus here in the region of the Sea of Galilee. It weather provided mostly sunny skies, with highs in the low 70s.



Mt. Arbel on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee

Following another plentiful breakfast, we drove about five minutes to the trailhead leading up a 800 foot cliff called Arbel. 11 in the group climbed, while the rest of the group bussed around to the other side and ascended the top with a shorter walk. The view from the top was stunning. We could see the entire NW corner of the lake (Sea of Galilee) below. Before leaving the top, a number of couples renewed their wedding vows! It was special!

Yardenit/Jordan River

Baptism in the Jordan

Baptism in the Jordan River

Driving to the southern end of the lake, six in the group renewed their baptism in the waters of the Jordan River. We had the entire placed (called Yardenit) to ourselves. While the water was a bit chilly still this time of year, the experience was rewarding!


Magdala synagogue

The 1st century Magdala synagogue

Driving back through Tiberias, our next stop was Magdala. This was where a certain “Mary” was from. Unique to this archeological site is the 1st century synagogue uncovered here. It took a simple rectangular shape but no bigger than to hold about 60 people. We could picture Jesus teaching here!


Following lunch (the traditional St. Peter’s fish), we visited Chorazin. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus. In the 3rd century synagogue we read from Matthew 23 about the Moses’ seat. We also learned a life-lesson about humility. The entire city was built with black basaltic stone.



The 5th century Capernaum synagogue

Down on the shoreline, Capernaum is located. As we entered the site, we made our way to the 5th century synagogue (the 1st century one is below). Here we sat together and heard the many stories that took here involving Jesus (Mark 1, 2, 5, and 9; Luke 7; and John 6). Besides seeing other 1st century ruins of houses, and a 5th century octagonal church, we enjoyed a few moments of quiet reflection on the shoreline. This was most likely where Jesus called the fishermen disciples! He also called Matthew (Levi) here too to follow Him.

Boat Ride/Ancient Boat

Returning to Nof Ginnosar, we boarded our own boat for a 50 minute “sail” on the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed a time of worship and reflection. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the storm storm narratives about Jesus calming the stormy waters. Following this, we saw the ancient boat that dates to the 1st century! It was found in 1986 by two brothers.

Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. of Beatitudes

The Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

The last stop of the day was the Mt. of Beatitudes. While sitting on the rocks overlooking a natural amphitheater, we listened to the first part of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. It is possible that more than 5,000 would have listened to Jesus share these kingdom principles. Following a quiet time, many in the group walked down the pathway that leads to the water’s edge below. This sunset encounter was special and a great way to end the day.

We returned to our hotel for dinner. Many in the group enjoyed painting their stones collected from Capernaum.

It was a day where the life and ministry of Jesus came alive!


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 4


Today we headed north to the Golan Heights. It was another sunny day, with perfect temps around 75. It would be a day of blessing.

Plain of Bethsaida

NE corner of Sea of Galilee

NE corner of the Sea of Galilee

Following a great breakfast (with freshly-squeezed orange juice), we left the hotel around 7:30. Driving to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, we then headed east towards Bethsaida (the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, John 1). While the muddy and rutted dirt road to El Araj (a new possible site for the Bethsaida) prevented us from seeing this new excavation, we drove to a wonderful overlook further east of the region below. Here we could see the eastern shoreline of the lake (Mark 5), Tiberias to the west, and with the good visibility even the top of Mt. Tabor far in the distance in the Jezreel Valley. To the north we could see Mt. Hermon (Israel’s highest peak – 7,300 feet, see Psalm 133). But looking down to the lake we read form Mark 8 (healing of the blind man from Bethsaida) and John 6 (the Feeding of the 5,000).


Gamla synagogue

The 1st century synagogue at Gamla

Continuing to the plateau of the Golan Heights, Gamla was our next stop. This was a Jewish city from the 1st century BC. The city was one of the first major cities taken by the Romans during the First Revolt (66 AD). We walked to the 1st century synagogue here. Although not mentioned specifically, perhaps Jesus taught here as He did in many of the Galilean synagogues (Mt. 4). We even saw a few griffon vultures.


Katzrin house

Inside the Talmudic house at Katzrin

The Talmudic village of Katzrin (dating from 3rd-7th century AD) was our next stop. We were introduced to the Hebraic background of the culture, and specifically of the life and ministry of Jesus here. Entering the reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun, we read from Mark 2 about Jesus healing the crippled man lowered down to Him through the roof. We could see it happening in a stone house like this! Here, Jesus also displayed authority (s’mekah) in forgiving the man’s sins too. We paused to celebrate God’s forgiveness for us! Leaving the site we walked through the synagogue.


Mt. Hermon

Mt. Hermon from Bental

Eating bananas, apples, and snacks for lunch today, we made out way to Bental. We saw a few gazelles along the way! This old Israeli military outpost overlooks the border with Syria. Shlomo shared about the 1967 and 1973 wars that took place in this region. Looking across the border, we could see Kuneitra as well as numerous other Syrian towns. We felt perfectly safe here despite what has happened in Syria so close to the border. The up-close view of Mt. Hermon was amazing!

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi

The sacred area of Caesarea Philippi

Descending down off the Golan Heights, we visited Caesarea Philippi. This was a pagan city during the day so of Jesus. Yet it was in this region where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” We saw the grotto/cultic center of the city, which included a Temple of Augustus, and shrines dedicated to Pan, Nemesis, Zeus, and the sacred goats.


mud-brick Dan gate

The Canaanite mud-brick gate of Tel Dan

Our last stop of the day was to the nature preserve and archaeological site of Dan. Walking along the largest tributary of the Jordan River (Banias and Hatsbani are the others), we enjoyed the beauty of this area. We stopped along the path to listen to Shlomo share a song on his recorder and to read (and sing) Psalm 42. Walking further, we entered the archaeological site. At the altar and high place built by Jeroboam, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. Overlooking the Lebanon border to the north, we also heard Shlomo share about the present situation with this country. Leaving the site, we saw a mud-brick gate that possibly dates to the time of Abraham.

Back to the Hotel

From here we drove back home through the Huleh Valley. Passing Abel Beit Macaah (where Pastor John dug in 2014), we read from 2 Samuel 20 about the “wise woman.” On our way back to the hotel we also passed by Hazor, a major Canaanite city destroyed by Joshua (Josh. 11). We returned to the hotel for dinner and a nice gathering down by the water’s edge.


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 3

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, MARCH 13: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS Today was our first full day of the tour. We enjoyed the sun all day long, with highs in the mid 70s. Perfect! Caesarea Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after a great breakfast and checkout, we drove north to Caesarea. This was a city located right on the Mediterranean coastline by Herod the Great in 22 BC. We started in the Roman theater. We read about Peter (Acts 10), Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), Philip (Acts 21), and Paul (Acts 26). Walking through the rest of the site we saw the palace, the hippodrome, many mosaics, a few statutes, and the harbor area. We exited the site … Continue reading

March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Days 1 & 2


Departure & Arrival

Israel coastline

The Israel/Tel Aviv coastline

Our day of departure finally arrived, With great excitement and anticipation, we embarked on our flight to Israel, the land of the Bible! With thanksgiving to God, we all made our connection flights. Enduring the long night-flight, the coast of Israel came into view. Landing at the Ben Gurion Airport (named after Israel’s first Prime Minister in 1948), with patience we passed through the long lines of Passport Control. Grabbing our luggage (it all arrived!), we met Shlomo (our guide) and David (our driver).


Jaffa Israel

The quiet alley-ways of Jaffa

After loading the bus, we departed the airport for a brief stop in Jaffa (Joppa). Located on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, this is where Jonah ran from God (Jonah) and where Peter leaded Dorcas and had his vision (Acts 9, 10). We walked through the quiet alley ways and gained a great view of the coastline of Tel Aviv.

From here we drove north to Netanya. After checking in, we enjoyed a late dinner together followed by a brief orientation meeting. 

It is great to be here in Israel!!


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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Set to Begin!

Our Ministry

Biblical Israel Ministries & ToursBiblical Israel Ministries & Tours is all about teaching the Bible within the incredible context of the land of Israel! We enthusiastically teach the Bible through primarily two avenues – through the study & discipleship Israel tours and through what we call Bringing the Bible to Life (BBL) seminars designed for churches, groups, conferences, and retreats. Our next three BBL seminars are taking place in April (April 5-6 in Madison, WI; April 14-15 in Uppsala, MN; and April 20-21 in Iron Mountain, MI). If you are in the area, feel free to join us!

Our Next Trip

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

However before these three seminars, our next Israel tour I am leading begins this Sunday, March 11th. This tour will be a 14 day combined Israel & Jordan trip. We even built into the program a “service day” in Jerusalem with Bridges for Peace. A total of 38 will be in this group!  A life-changing experience awaits!

You can follow our day-to-day experiences HERE. The trip will be updated each evening, complete with sample pictures and a description of the sites we encounter!

For More Information

Mt. of Beatitudes

The view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

If you are interested in either an upcoming trip to Israel, please visit this page HERE. If your church would like to host a BBL seminar, please visit this page HERE.

We are here to serve you and help you grow in your faith walk with God!

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The Isaiah Seal Impression (& Video)

Excitement in the Archaeological World

Isaiah seal

Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

The excitement about biblical archaeology is that one never knows what may be uncovered next! This is particularly true of archaeological discoveries in and around Jerusalem, for it seems as though significant finds are appearing in the news more and more! This is truly exciting.

The last discovery in Jerusalem was just made public last week. I’m sure many of you have seen the report already! It is a discovery that is potentially and directly links us to one of the major prophets who lived in the 7th century BC. This prophet’s name is Isaiah.

The Seal Impression

Isaiah seal and Ophel

The Ophel excavations where the Isaiah Seal was discovered (credit: Andrew Shiva)

In a recent Times of Israel article, Dr. Elat Mizar, archaeologist, reported the following, “We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation…” Discovered in the Ophel excavations (just north of the City of David and just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem), this “seal impression” (or bulla) is a remarkable find!

Mizar continues to describe both about discovery and the challenge of interpreting it, “Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah.” You can read the entire article HERE. If this discovery does indeed link us to the Isaiah of the Bible, this would be an incredible find!

A Video

Here is a recent video from last week featuring a personal interview with Elat Mizar.

For the sake of providing additional (yet somewhat similar) resources/articles about this discovery, follow these links:

National Geographic


Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper)


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February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 8 and 9


Today is our last full day here in Jerusalem. The weather was perfect, with sun and highs in the mid 60s. We would encounter the best of both OT and NT Jerusalem!

Southern wall Excavations

Massive Herodian stones

Some of the massive stones of the Temple (Mark 13)

Leaving again shortly after 7:30, our first destination was the southern wall excavations. The Temple of Herod began in 20 BC and according to John 2, 46 years were already invested in this massive building project. Here we saw massive Herodian stones, some weighing hundreds of tons! We also saw the Herodian street. Jesus would have walked on this stone pavement! At the southern end, we ascended the steps that would have led into the Temple. We read from many passages that placed Jesus and others using these steps (e.g. Luke 2, Mark 13, Luke 18, Acts 2, etc…) While sitting on these steps we took some time to reflect about the specialness of this place and the life and ministry of Jesus here!

City of David – David’s Palace, Warren’s Shaft, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Siloam Pool, Drainage Channel

Hezekiah's tunnel

Inside Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the “meeting point”

Walking south out of the Dung Gate, we entered the excavations of the City of David. After seeing a 3-D movie, we began to explore the area. This was where David built a palace after he conquered the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5). Walking down through Warren’s Shaft (a series of tunnels and a 52 foot shaft), we made out way down to the Gihon Spring. This spring served as the water source for the city since its beginning. Over half in the group walked through the “wet” Hezekiah’s Tunnel while the others walked through the “dry” earlier Canaanite tunnel. Both were great experiences!!

Siloam pool steps

The very stone steps of the Siloam Pool (John 9)

Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read the story of the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) in “dramatic fashion.” From here, some walked back up to the southern excavations through the drainage channel discovered just a few years ago. Others bussed to the Zion’s Gate and walked to the Jewish Quarter.

“Moshe” & the Jewish Quarter

About noon we enjoyed a conversation with Moshe in the Jewish Quarter. He talked about his Jewish faith in the context of our Christian faith. He and his brother own a store called Shorashim. Following lunch on our own, we enjoyed a few hours of free time (for shopping, exploring, and people-watching).

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Our last visit was to the Garden Tomb. This location serves as an alternative site for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. While we worship the person and not the place, what is important is that “He is Risen!” We enjoyed a time of worship & Communion here. We ended the service with an “A-men” and three Swedish “horah’s!” 🙂

We drove back to the hotel for dinner and free evening. It was a great last day here in Jerusalem!


The plans are to drive to the airport for our late morning flight to Toronto and then back home. Keep us in your prayers as we fly home!

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