February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 3

DAY 3 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS 

Today was our first full day here in Israel. While the visualities due to hazy skies was very limited today, the temperatures were mild, with highs in the low-mid 70s.

Caesarea

Caesarea Theater

Sitting in the theater at Caesarea

Leaving the hotel around 7:45, we drove north in the Coastal Plains to Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Located on the Med Sea shoreline, we saw some of ruins left from Herod’s day. This included the theater (most reconstructed), the palace, the hippodrome, the Temple of Augustus, and the harbor. We also saw many mosaics from the Late Roman Period. In the theater made these biblical connections: Acts 9-10 (Peter and Cornelius), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa), Acts 21 (Philip) and Acts 26 (Paul). Paul would sail into (after his mission journeys) and out of the harbor here (to Rome). We also the Crusader part of the city, and the aqueduct (built by Herod) that brought fresh water into the city.

Mt. Carmel

Megiddo water system

The water system at Megiddo

Driving northeast, we ascended to the top of the Carmel Range. At a place established by the Carmelite sect of the Catholic Church called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”), we read from 1 Kings 18. Here, Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and Asherah. We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7 that refer to this mountain range. While the view from the roof of the chapel was very limited by the hazy sky, we recalled the many stories that took place in the Jezreel Valley below (Deborah & Barak defeating Sisera on Mt. Tabor – Judges 4-5; Gideon defeating the Midianites on the Hill or More – Judges 6-7; Saul and his 3 sons dying on Mt. Gilboa – 1 Samuel 31; and the Nazareth Ridge where Jesus grew up).  We enjoyed lunch at a near by Druze restaurant.

Megiddo

Megiddo water system

The water system at Megiddo

Driving down to the Jezreel Valley, our next stop after lunch was Megiddo. This is a 35 acre archaeological site that spans about 2,500 years with over two dozen levels of occupation.  Megiddo was a strategically-located city that guarded the entrance into the Jezreel Valley from the south. It was a city taken by Thutmose III (Egyptian pharaoh in the 15th century BC) and later on also by Joshua (Joshua 12). Still later, Solomon re-fortified the city (1 Kings 9). Climbing the site we saw three gate structures, stables, and the Canaanite altar area. Overlooking the valley (e.g. Armageddon),we also read from Rev. 16. We celebrated that in the end times, God as the final word! 

Precipice of Nazareth

Precipice of Nazareth

Reflection time on the precipice of Nazareth

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, our last stop was the precipice of Nazareth. From here we could at least see the Hill or Moreh and Mt. Tabor.  We read from Luke 4 (Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue) and John 1. We were invited to come and see Jesus anew! We also enjoyed a time of journalling and reflection in this quiet place.

From here we drove through the outskirts of Nazareth and through Cana to get to our hotel on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner followed by a gathering down by the water’s age.

DAY 4 – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, CHORAZIM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MAGDALA

 

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Day 10 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

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

Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor in the Jezreel Valley

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.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Tel Megiddo

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!

Mt. Carmel

Mt. Carmel

The Jezreel Valley from Mt. Carmel

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.

Caesarea

theater at Caesarea

The theater at Caesarea

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!

DAY 11 –WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 11

DAY 11: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8:

This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. After breakfast, we loaded up the bus and began our drive south through a few more of the regions of the Bible. The day would be another sunny one, with highs in the 70s. We read from John 1 as we left the hotel and were invited to “come and see”  Jesus anew!

Precipice Nazareth

Precipice of Nazareth

Precipice of Nazareth

Driving through the Lower Galilee and driving through the outskirts of the city of Nazareth. Arriving at the precipice (an adjacent hilltop of the city), we walked to the edge and enjoyed our first full view of the Jezreel Valley below. From here we could see Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth. We quietly listened to The Lord’s Prayer before leaving.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Some of the Canaanite ruins of Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we arrived at Megiddo, a large archaeological site on the SW side of the Jezreel Valley. The site has over 24 layers of ruins spanning about 2,500 years. Megiddo was strategically located on the main natural pass into the valley. It was so important that Thutmose III said, “…to capture Megiddo was to capture 1,000 cities…” After seeing a model of the city, we climbed the tel (ancient mound) and saw three gate structures, a storehouse/stable, a Canaanite altar, and even a grain silo. On top of the tel we read from Revelation 16. We celebrated the fact that God has all of redemptive history in His capable hands! We are on the winning side where God has the last word! We then exited the site by walking down into the amazing water system (180 steps down, 80 up). It was quite impressive to see.

Mt. Carmel

We drove to Mt. Carmel where we had lunch. Nearby we visited Muhraqa, a place remembering the story of Elijah. We read from 1 Kings 18 about God’s amazing intervention in his time of crisis. It was against all odds that Elijah defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. From the top of the chapel we gained yet another view of the Jezreel Valley below. We also enjoyed singing together in the chapel.

Caesarea

Sunset Med Sea Isral

Sunset at Caesarea on the Med Sea

Our last stop of the day was Caesarea. Located along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, this was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. In the reconstructed theater we read from Acts 10 (Peter) and Acts 26 (Paul). Philip the evangelist lived here (Acts 21). Walking from the theater, we saw the hippodrome, the harbor area, statutes, and many mosaics among other things. Upon leaving, we made a brief stop at the Herodian aqueduct that brought water into the city from the Mt. Carmel range. The sunset was spectacular over the Med Sea!

From here we drove about 2 hours to Jerusalem. Arriving at our hotel, we enjoyed dinner followed by an optional walk to the Western Wall. We are thrilled to be in this capital city of Israel for 3 full days!

DAY 12: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTH-WALL EXCAVATIONS, YAD VASHEM, ISRAEL MUSEUM

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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 3

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5:

Caesarea theater

Caesarea Theater

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.

Jezreel Valley

Jezreel Valley from Mt. Carmel

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.

Megiddo

Megiddo 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.

Jezreel Valley

The September 2017 group on the Precipice of Nazareth, with the Jezreel Valley in the background.

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 MAACAH

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 6 Summary

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, JUNE 17:

Caesarea Theater

The theater at Caesarea

Today was another sunny day, with temps around 90. The breeze all day long made it comfortable. Checking out of the hotel, we drove north to Caesarea. Located in the Sharon Plain on the shoreline of the Med Sea, this city was developed by Herod the Great in 22 BC. The city served as the major harbor in the area. Sitting in the theater, we considered the bold witness of both Peter (Acts 10) and Paul here (Acts 26). Other people from the Bible (e.g. Phillip who lived here 20 years, see Acts 22; and Barnabas and Titus (who must have also passed through this city, see Galatians 2) were connected to this city as well. Herod’s grandson also died here (Acts 12). In addition to the theater, we saw the palace (where Paul was most likely tried), the hippodrome (for horse races), the Crusader part of the city, a few marble statutes, and the area of the harbor.

Driving inland, we ascended to the peak of Mt. Carmel. This is actually a 13 mile mountain range. In a small chapel called Muhraqa, we read from 1 Kings 18 about the story of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal. In an awesome way, God revealed Himself that day! We also considered other passages that mention this area (Song of Songs 7, 2 Kings 4, Isaiah 33 & 35, and Jeremiah 50). From the rooftop, the view was wonderful. We looked down into the Jezreel Valley. We could see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Megiddo

The Megiddo Water System

Following lunch (at a place owned by Druze), we drove down into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. Archaeologically, this ancient city has more than two dozen levels of occupation spanning about 3,000 years. Megiddo was a strategically-located city guarding the main entrance into the valley. Climbing the site we saw three different ancient gates, a stable, an altar, and a grain silo. From here we also could see Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa. We remembered Revelation 16 (“Armageddon”) and rejoiced that in the final day when Christ returns, God will have the final word!

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we arrived at Sepporis. This was the main Jewish city in the days of Jesus in the Lower Galilee. We saw many mosaics, including the famous Mona Lisa of the Galilee.

Precipice of Nazareth

The precipice of Nazareth

We ended the day at the Precipice of Nazareth. Located overlooking the Jezreel Valley, this was the “backyard” of Jesus when growing up. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 about Jesus’ ministry and were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew!

From here we drove through Cana (John 2) to our hotel located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed dinner together. Some walked down the water’s edge before retiring for the evening. We will spend three nights here at Nom Ginnosar!

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, JUNE 18: GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN, ABEL BEIT MAACAH

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 3

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26:

Today was our first full day here in Israel. The skies would be sunny and clear, with a high in the low 80s.

Caesarea Theater

The theater at Caesarea

After a great breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove north about 20 minutes to Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great between 22-10 BC. After a brief movie about the history of the site, we gathered in the theater. Here we read from Acts 10, 12, & 26 (about Peter, Herod Agrippa, and Paul). We celebrate the boldness of both Peter and Paul in proclaiming their faith in Christ. We also saw the palace, the hippodrome, mosaics, part of the Crusader city, the harbor, statutes, and the aqueduct that brought water in from the Carmel Range. We also saw a replica of the Pilate Inscription found here in 1961.

Mt. Carmel was our next stop. On the highest peak called Muhraqa, we read from 1 Kings 18 about the story of Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal and Asherah here. With God’s help, Elijah defeated the odds! We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7. From the roof of the small chapel we got our first view (of three) of the Jezreel Valley below. Although it was hazy, we could see the Nazareth Ridge (Luke 4), Mt. Tabor (Judge 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Sepporis

Sepporis (in Lower Galilee)

Following lunch (and for some our first falafel), we descended down to the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This is an archaeological site that has over two dozen layers of ruins. Megiddo was a Canaanite city taken by Thutmose III and later again by Joshua (Joshua 12). We saw a map of the region as well as a model before climbing to the top of the tel. Here we saw three ancient gate structures, Solomon’s stables, an Early Bronze altar, and an Israelite grain silo. We remembered what Revelation 16 says about Armageddon and we celebrated God’s ultimate victory that will come when Christ returns! We left the site by descending 180 steps down through the water system.

Sepporis was our next site. Here we saw Roman streets, shops, houses, and amazing mosaics (including the Mona Lisa of the Galilee). This city was located only 4-5 miles from Nazareth. Although not mentioned in the Bible, it is likely that Jesus visited this Hellenized-Jewish city.

Nazareth precipice

The Precipice of Nazareth (overlooking the Jezreel Valley)

We ended the day by driving to the Precipice of Nazareth. The view of the Jezreel Valley below (along with Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, Mt. Gilboa, and Mt Carmel) was one that no doubt Jesus saw when he grew up in Nazareth. We paused to read Luke 4 and John 1 and were invited to “come and see” Jesus in the context of this place. It was a special time of reflection!

Driving to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee, we arrived at Nof Ginnosar, our “kibbutz-hotel” for the next three nights. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a nice walk down to the water’s edge.

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, APRIL 27: SEA OF GALILEE, GOLAN HEIGHTS, DAN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, BENTAL, QATZRIN, GAMLA

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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 3 Summary

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15:

Theater in Caesarea Israel

The March 2017 group in the theater of Caesarea

Today was our first full day in Israel. We were greeted with a sunny morning and mild temps. After breakfast we loaded the buses up and set out for Caesarea. This city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC was quite impressive. Sitting in the theater, we “connected the dots” with the Bible by reading from Acts 10 (Peter), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa, Herod the Great’s grandson), and Paul (Acts 26). We also enjoyed singing here. Here in Caesarea we also saw the palace, the hippodrome, the harbor, mosaics, and part of the Crusader city built here in the 12th century AD. Before leaving the site, we saw the aqueduct that as used to bring water into the city from the Carmel Range.

Driving up to the Carmel Range, our next stop was to a Carmelite chapel located at the highest peak called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”). We read the story about Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal from 1 Kings 18. Other references were also shared about Carmel (2 Kings 4, Isaiah 35, Amos 9, and Songs of Songs 7). From the rooftop of the chapel we enjoyed our first view of the Jezreel Valley below. From here we could see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

The valley of Armegeddon

The Jezreel Valley, Israel

Following lunch at a restaurant owned and operated by a Druze family, we visited Megiddo. This was a massive Canaanite and Israelite city in biblical days. Thutmose III, the Egyptian Pharaoh, conquered it. So did Joshua (Joshua 12) about 50 years later. Climbing the tel (“ancient mound”), we saw three gate structures (Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, and a Solomonic gate), stables, a Canaanite alter, and an Israelite granary. As it began to rain, we left the site by descending down 180 steps to the ancient water system.

After some heavy traffic, we finally arrived at Sepporis. This was the primary city in the Lower Galilee during the time of Jesus. Dogging the raindrops, here we saw some beautiful mosaics, one called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Towards the end of our visit, we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow over Nazareth!

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” 2nd century AD mosaic at Sepporis

We ended the day on the precipice of Nazareth. In full view of Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and the Jezreel Valley below, we read from Luke 4. However, the lightning and rain storm shortened our gathering in a hurry as we quickly returned back to the bus. But to see Jesus’ “backyard” while growing up in this area was really special!

Driving to Tiberias we checked into our hotels and enjoyed dinner together and a free evening. Despite the afternoon rain, it was a great first day here in Israel!

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, MARCH 16: GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 3

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25:

Caesarea Theater

The Caesarea Roman Theater. Both Peter and Paul would have been here (Acts 10, 26)

Today was our first full day here in Israel. The weather would be overcast most of the day, with highs in the 60s. Leaving the hotel around 7:40, we drove north to Caesarea. Located along the Med Sea coastline, this was a city built by King Herod in 22 BC. Sitting in the theater, we read from Acts 10 (Peter & Cornelius), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa), and Acts 26 (Paul’s bold testimony). Walking from the theater to the rest of the excavations we also saw the palace, the “Pilate Inscription” (found in 1961 in the theater), the hippodrome, the Crusader city, and the harbor area. The Apostle Paul used this port several times.

Next, we ascended up to the top of Mt. Carmel, a mountain range that overlooks the Jexreel Valley. We read from 1 Kings 18 about Elijah defeating he prophets of Baal here. We also remembered the stories of Elisha (2 Kings 4), and the romantic words of Song of Songs 7. The view from the top of the chapel of the Jezrel Valley below was limited, but we could at least see the Nazareth Ridge (Luke 1,4), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Canaanite Gate at Megiddo

Canaanite Gate at Megiddo

After lunch at a nearby Druze restaurant, we drove down to the Jezreel Valley and visited Megiddo. After view a map of the region highlighting the importance of this ancient city as well as a archaeological model of the tel of Megiddo, we climbed the site together. We saw three gates (Canaanite and Israelite), Solomon’s “stables”, an Early Bronze altar, and an Israelite granary. We read from Revelation 16 and celebrated the victory we have in Christ when He returns! We left the site by descending down through the amazing water system.

Crossing the valley, Sepporis was our next visit. This was the primary Hellenistic-Jewish city in Jesus’ day. Here we saw beautiful mosaics, including the famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.” We also saw the Nilometer moaic.

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” mosaic at Sepporis

Our last stop was the Precipice of Nazareth. The view from here provided our last perspective of the Jezreel Valley. Once again we saw Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa. We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ synagogue encounter. We also were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew (John 1). We enjoyed a time of quiet reflection.

Driving through Cana (John 2), we arrived at our hotel called Nof Ginnosar located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner and a brief gathering down at the water’s edge.

It was a great first day!

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 26: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 3

Aqueduct of caesarea

The Aqueduct of Caesarea

THURSDAY, JANUARY 12

Today was our first full day of touring. The weather was perfect, with sunny skies and a high in the upper 60s. We were also thankful that by the end of the day everyone who had flights canceled were able to join us! Following breakfast and checkout of the hotel, our first stop was Caesarea. Located along the coast of the Med Sea in the Sharon Plains, this city was first built by King Herod in 22 BC. As we sat in the theater, we “connected the dots” with hat happened biblically here – both Peter and Paul shared boldly about their faith (Acts 10, 26). Paul also sailed in and out of the famous port here as well. Besides the theater, we saw the replica of the “Pilate Inscription” (found in 1961), the palace, the hippodrome (for horse races), the harbor/port, mosaics, the Crusader moat and gate, and the aqueduct.

Driving to the Mt. Carmel Range, we visited Mukraqah, a Carmelite chapel located on the highest peak of this mountain range. We read from 1 kings 18 about the story of Elijah defeating the 450 prophets of Baal. Other references to Mt. Carmel were also mentioned – 2 Kings 4 (Elisha), Isaiah 35 (“the splendor of Carmel”) and Song of Songs 7. We enjoyed singing Amazing Grace from the chapel. Ascending to the top of the roof of the chapel gave us our first view of the Jezreel Valley. Here we heard about the many stories from the OT that could be seen from here – Deborah/Barak & Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), Gideon & the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Saul & Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Nazareth (Luke 1, 4). We ate lunch nearby at a Druze restaurant.

solomon's stables at megiddo

Solomon’s stables at Megiddo

Driving down into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, we were fascinated at the vast archaeological ruins here. The city was strategically located and served as the city that guarded the main entrance into the valley from the southwest. Thutmose III even said that to “capture Megiddo as like capturing 1,000 cities!” After seeing the model of the “tel” (ancient mound), we walked through the excavations. We saw numerous gate structures (Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, Iron Age/Israelite), Solomon’s stables, a sacrificial altar (Early Bronze), a grain bin (Israelite), and an impressive water system. Climbing down to the water tunnel was remarkable! We read from I Kings 9:15 and Revelation 16. The Jezreel Valley is also called the Valley of Armageddon.

Next was Sepporis. This was the primary Jewish city of the Lower Galilee during Jesus’ time. Located only 4-5 miles from Nazareth, it is no doubt that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus visited this city. Here we saw amazing mosaics, one referred to as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.

precipice of nazareth

On the precipice of Nazareth

Our last stop was the precipice of Nazareth. Arriving just at sunset, the view from here was terrific, With Mt. Tabor, Hill of Moreh, Gilboa and Mt Carmel in front of us, this was the “backyard” of Jesus while he grew up. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 and were invited to “come and see” Jesus. It was a very special and quiet moment here.

Driving through Cana, we arrived to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee to Nof Ginnosar, our home for the next four nights. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner together and a free night. Some enjoyed walking down to the water’s edge. With a full moon, it was quite beautiful! It was a great first full day here in Israel.

DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 13: GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, KATZRIN, BENTAL, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 8

DAY 8 – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7 

Arbel, Israel

The Sea of Galilee from Mt. Arbel

Today we packed up and checked out of our hotel. Greeted by sun and nice temps again, we started the day at Mt. Arbel. Many in the group enjoyed the little over an hour hike to the top of this 800 foot cliff that provides one of the best panoramic views of the Sea of Galilee below. Others bussed around the other side and walked to the top from the visitor center. The entire NW corner of the lake can ben seen from here! This was the main ministry area of Jesus! We remembered some of the parables of Jesus, especially the ones about the kingdom (Matthew 13-14).

Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, we arrived at Yardenit for our baptism service in the Jordan River. About half in the group reaffirmed their baptismal vows. It was special for everyone!

baptism in jordan river

Baptism in the Jordan River

Close by is the Kinneret CemeteryIt was here where may early Jewish pioneers are buried. This includes Rachel Bluwstein (1890-1931). She was a single Jewish woman from Russia. She is famous all over Israel for her poetry! She is simply known as “Rachel” and her picture will soon appear on the 20 shekel bill!

From here we drove back towards Nazareth. Crossing the Jezreel Valley, we climbed the Mt. Carmel Range on the southwest side of the valley. On the highest peak of this mountain range is a Carmelite chapel called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”). We read from 1 Kings 18 about the “showdown” on this mountain between Elijah and the prophets of Baal & Asherah. God sent fire from heaven upon the sacrifice on the altar made with 12 stones. We enjoyed some more singing in the chapel as well.

caesarea theater

The theater at Caesarea

Following lunch at a place owned by a Druze family, we visited our last site of the day, Caesarea. Located on the Med Sea coastline, this was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. The project took 12 years to complete. We read from Acts 10,12 and 26 from within the theater. Nearby was Herod’s palace, complete even with a fresh-water swimming pool! We then walked across the hippodrome to the Crusader part of the city. Herod built a vast harbor here. We also saw the aquaduct that brought water into the city from the Mt. Carmel area.

Boarding the bus, we drove to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. After checking to our hotel, we enjoyed an optional walk to the Western Wall. We are looking forward to the next three days in this amazing city!

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8 – JERUSALEM, OLD CITY, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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