February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 4

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

Today was all about Jesus, with a focus on the “where and what” He taught and “how” He shared His kingdom message. The weather was actually very comfortable. While we had some showers in the early morning, we actually had breaks of sun and clouds the rest of the day, with highs in the 60s.

Mt. Arbel

Sea of Galilee from Arbel

The view of the Sea of Galilee from on top of Arbel

Leaving the hotel shortly after 7:30, we drove to the trailhead (in the Valley of the Doves) for the path that leads to the top of Mt. Arbel. Seven in the group decided to climb this peak (about an 800 foot ascent taking about 80 minutes) while the majority in the group drove to the visitor center on the back side, and walking about 300 yards to the top. The view from the top was breath-taking, enabling us to see the entire NW corner of the Sea of Galilee below. This was primarily where Jesus served!

Magdala

Magdala synagogue

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala

Driving back down through Tiberias, we arrived at Magdala. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue. While not specifically mentioned in the Gospels, it is highly probable that Jesus taught here! Among the other ruins we saw the marketplace, miqveh (ritual baths), and the harbor area. We also enjoyed a time of singing in the newly-built chapel on the grounds. The acoustics were very good.

Chorazim

Chorazim synagogue

The 3rd century AD synagogue at Chorazim

Following a “fish lunch” in the area, we drove to Chorazim. This was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus because of their unbelief and lack of repentence (the other two were Bethsaida and Capernaum). Located on a hillside on this NW corner of the lake and about a few miles away from the water’s edge, we saw the 3rd century synagogue. We read from Matthew 23 about the Moses’ Seat (one was found here in earlier excavations) and about Jesus condemnation of the Pharisee’s hypocrisy.

Capernaum

synagogue Capernaum

The 5th century synagogue at Capernaum

Driving back down to the shoreline of the lake, we visited Capernaum. This city served as the home-base for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (built overtop the 1st century one), we read from Mark 1,2, and 9; Luke 7 and 8; and John 6. Jesus taught here and performed many miracles of healing here. Besides seeing some of the 1st century ruins, we spent some reflective time down on the shoreline. It was most likely here where Jesus called at least five of His disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew – see Mt. 4) Each of us also picked up a smooth stone (for painting after dinner).

Boat Ride

Sea of Galilee boat ride

Mt. of Beatitudes from our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day with a boat ride on the lake. After seeing the small 1st century boat found here in 1986, we “sailed” to the northern end of the lake. On the way we read from Matthew 14; Mark 4, 5, and 8; and John 6. The two storm narratives were particularly meaningful as we sailing on the water ourselves. We also enjoyed a time of worship, reflection, and journaling.

We returned to your hotel for dinner and a gathering. We painted the rocks we collected from Capernaum. It was a great day of focusing on the life and ministry of “Rabbi Jesus!”

DAY 5 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13: MT. OF BEATITUDES, BEIT SHEAN, JERICHO, DEAD SEA

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Day 7 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 20: YARDENIT/JORDAN RIVER BAPTISM, MAGDALA, CHORIZIM, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE

Today was our first day here in the north. We were greeted by sun and comfortable temperatures. The high would be about 65. Some in the group enjoyed getting up early for the sunrise on the Sea of Galilee!

“Rachel”

Rachel the Poet

The grave of Rachel the Poet at the Kinneret Cemetery in the Galilee

Following breakfast and a later departure this morning (8 a.m.), we drove through Tiberias towards the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. On the way we read from Matthew 4 about Jesus calling His first disciples. We stopped at the Kinneret CemeterySome of the first Jewish immigrants to Israel in the early 20th century are buried here. It was established in 1911. This included a Ukrainian poetess known simply as Rachel. She was born in 1890. Many Israelis visit her grave our of respect for the poetry she wrote. She died in 1931. Just recently, her picture was put on the new 20 shekel Israeli currency bill.

Yardenit

Yardenit

Baptism at Yardenit (Jordan River )

Just south of the cemetery is where the water leaves the Sea of Galilee and forms the lower Jordan River. Here there is a place called Yardenit. Nine re-dedicated themselves through baptism. One also was baptized for the first time. Yes, the water was cold but hearts were warmed by this special time

Hamat Tiberias

Hamat Tiberias synagogue

Hamat Tiberias mosaic floor of synagogue

Driving back north towards Tiberias, we made an extra stop at Hamat TiberiasHere we saw a 4th century synagogue. The mosaic floor of the synagogue was quite impressive to see. Like at many other synagogues, these Jewish synagogues used various Jewish symbols (e.g. menorah). But even pagan symbols (e.g. zodiac) were also used, serving as decorations.

Magdala

Magdala

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala

Our next stop was Magdala. Located north of Tiberias, Magdala is a “one-level” archaeological site. It was the home of the Mary Magdalene of the Gospels. Here we visited the 1st century synagogue, one of only seven others that date to this 2nd Temple period. Although not specifically mentioned in the Bible, this city must have been where Jesus visited and taught. The synagogue is small and modest, holding only 50-60 people. We also enjoyed a time of singing in the new retreat chapel built here a few years ago. The acoustics were amazing! The wall reliefs were special too, especially the one of the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Mark 5).

Chorazin

synagogue at Chorazin

Chorazin synagogue

Following a traditional “fish lunch” we drove to ChorazinLocated on a hill off the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee, we saw the basaltic ruins of the 3rd century AD city. It was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Mt. 11). We read from Matthew 23 from inside the synagogue. A Moses’ Seat was found here. Among the other ruins we saw a miqveh (ritual bath) and other house structures.

Capernaum

synagogue at Capernaum

Sitting on the benches of the Capernaum synagogue

Located nearby but down on the water’s edge is Capernaum (Kfar Nahum – the village of Nahum). Visiting this place mentioned so many times in the Bible was very special given that Jesus made Capernaum the “home-base” of his Galilean ministry. This was where Jesus also called His first disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew/Levi the port tax collector). Inside the 4-5th century synagogue we read the stories that took place here (Mark 1,2, 5, 9; Luke 7; and John 6). Among the other ruins we saw included the 1st century house structures and a 5th AD century octagonal church. We also spent some reflection time down on the water’s edge.

Boat Ride

Sunset Sea of Galilee

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed a time of worship and reflection out towards the middle of the lake. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives. It is precious to know that Jesus cares for us too when we encounter the unexpected storms of life. The sunset was spectacular!

We walked back to our hotel for dinner and a free evening. What a great day retracing the footsteps of Jesus!

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, JANUARY 21: GAMLA, KATZRIN, BENTAL, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 10

DAY 10: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7:

Today was a day spent all around (and on) the Sea of Galilee. The brilliant sun provided warm temps in the 70s. We have been blessed with wonderful weather so far!

Mt. Arbel

Mt. Arbel

The Sea of Galilee from the hike up Mt. Arbel

Leaving the hotel again around 7:30 (and reading Mt. 6 as we departed), our first destination was only 5 minutes away – the trailhead of Mt. Arbel. About 15 in the group enjoyed a hike up this cliff – an ascent of about 800 feet. The rest in the group bussed around to the other side and walked about 300 yards to the top. The view from on top was spectacular! We could look down and see much of the region of the Sea of Galilee, including the Mt. of Beatitudes and Capernaum on the NW corner of the lake.

Jordan River Baptism

Driving south to Yardenit, we enjoyed an optional renewal of our baptism in the Jordan River. Fourteen in the group entered the waters of the Jordan for this special time of reaffirming our faith in being followers of Christ. Pastors John and Phil officiated. We had the entire place to ourselves.

Magdala

Magdala synagogue

The 1st century Magdala synagogue

Driving back north through Tiberias (a city Jesus would not have entered), we entered the archaeological site of Magdala. This was the home of a certain “Mary Magdalene.” Here we saw a 1st century synagogue. No doubt Jesus must have taught from here. We also enjoyed a time of singing in the newly-built prayer chapel. The acoustics were wonderful!

Jesus Boat

After lunch (a nice St. Peter’s fish lunch), we saw the ancient boat (“Jesus Boat”). It was discovered in 1986 by two brothers from the Nof Ginnosar kibbutz. This wooden boat dates to the time of Jesus.

Capernaum

Capernaum

The shoreline of Capernaum near where Jesus called his disciples

Driving to the NW shoreline of the lake, Capernaum (Kefar Nahum, the village of Nahum) was our next stop. This city was located right on the main route through this region, and because of this it served as Jesus’ “home base” for his Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1, 2 and 9; Luke 7; and John 6 … all stories that took place here. In addition to seeing stone structures (e.g. houses) from Jesus’ day, we enjoyed some reflection time on the shoreline. This was where Jesus most likely called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, the port-tax collector.

Mt. of Beatitudes

Up on the hillside nearby, we enjoyed listening to portions of the Beatitudes. This was shared by Jesus to probably 1000s of people. This “Sermon on the Mount” is found in Matthew 5-7. We listened to the Beatitudes shared first in Hebrew and then in English. Following a time of reflection once again, some in the group walked down the path to the road below.

Boat Ride

sea of Galilee sunset

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. As the sun was setting over the cliffs of Arbel, we enjoyed a time of worship, Scripture (Mark 4, Matthew 14), and quietness on the calm waters of the lake. It was a great way to end a great day of focusing on Jesus, the Master.
We returned to the hotel for dinner and an optional gathering down on the lake’s shoreline. We leave this place tomorrow morning.

DAY 11: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8: NAZARETH PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO, MT. CARMEL, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

 

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 8 Summary

DAY 8 – MONDAY, JUNE 19:

Sea of Galilee from Arbel

The Sea of Galilee from the top of Mt Arbel

Today we started out at about 7:30 once again. The sunny temps rose to the high 90s today, but the breeze and shade helped at most sites. Our first site as Mt. Arbel. Ten in the group choose to hike this 800 foot mountain while others bussed around to the other side and ascended to the top on a shorter trail. The view from the top of the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee below was amazing! No doubt Jesus traveled through the Valley of the Doves from the Lower Galilee to Capernaum, going past this mountain many times. While we can’t be sure, Jesus perhaps climbed this mountain from time to time also.

Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, 17 in the group were baptized in the Jordan River at a place called Yardenit. It was a special time of renewing our commitment to follow Jesus. One in the group (Chase, a 15 year old young man) proclaimed his faith and was baptized for the first time!

Jordan River baptism

Our baptism group in the Jordan River

Returning to the NW corner of the lake, Magdala was our next stop. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue recently excavated. Once again, we could picture Jesus teaching in this modest structure. Mary “Magdalene” was from here. Following the Feeding of the 4,000, Jesus and His disciples sailed into the port here. Before leaving the site, we enjoyed some music and singing in the newly-built chapel. The wall mosaics here are beautiful!

Following lunch, we visited Chorazim and Capernaum, two of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11). At Chorazim we read from Matthew 23 in the 3rd century synagogue and saw a replica of the Moses Seat here. At Capernaum (Jesus’ “home-base” for his Galilean ministry), we read various Gospel stories about what happened here (Mark 1, 2 and 9; Luke 7; John 6). This was also most likely where Jesus called His first disciples (Matthew 4). It was special to spend some time on the shore’s edge thinking of this calling.

Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

At Nof Ginnosar, we saw a 1st century wooden boat excavated from the shoreline in 1986. It is called today the Jesus BoatIt was amazing to see it so well preserved! It was from here where we boarded our own boat for a short ride out on the lake. We enjoyed a time of worship as well as reflection, reading Mark 4 and Matthew 14. These two storm narratives reminded us that Jesus calms even our fears and helps us when the “waves and the wind” blow against us!

Fox in Israel

A fox near the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day on the Mt. of Beatitudes. Shlomo read the first part of Matthew 5 in Hebrew for us. Overlooking the lake below, it was inspiring to consider these “kingdom principles.” Following a quiet time of reflection, most in the group walked down the path to the water’s edge.

We returned to our hotel for dinner and free evening. It was a great day here and around the Sea of Galilee!

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JUNE 20: BETH SHEAN, MT. GERIZIM, SHILOH, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 5

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, APRIL 28:

Today was a day of focusing on Jesus. Spending the day around the Sea of Galilee, we visited many sites and locations, all connected with Jesus and His ministry. Beginning with a wonderful sunrise, today was another sunny one, with comfortable temps in the high 80s, with a nice wind.

Sea of Galilee sunrise

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Leaving the hotel at about 7:40 and reading Matthew 13, we drove to the trailhead that leads to the top of Mt. Arbel. Nine in the group choose to climb this 800 foot-high mountain that overlooks the NE corner of the lake. The others in the group bussed around through Tiberias and up the western side. Meeting at the top, we had a marvelous view of this region where Jesus served.

From here we drove to the southern end of the lake for an optional baptism service in the Jordan River. At this place called Yardenit, it was a special time for the group, with 12 reaffirming their faith in Christ and with being baptized for the first time! We even had the entire place to ourselves!

Baptism in Jordan

Baptism in the Jordan River (Yardenit)

Driving back north, we visited Magdala. Here we visited the 1st century ruins of this city where “Mary Magdalene” as from. This included seeing a 1st century synagogue uncovered just a few years ago. We also enjoyed a time of singing in the new devotional chapel built on the grounds.

After lunch (St. Peter’s fish!), we drove to Chorazim. Here among the basaltic-stone ruins we visited the 3rd century synagogue. We saw the replica of the Moses Seat. We read from Matthew 23.

Close by but down on the shoreline is Capernaum. This was the “home-base” for Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee. It was where Jesus called some of His disciples. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue we read from Mark 1, 2, & 9; Luke 7; and John 6, all stories about Jesus’ ministry here. Down on the water’s edge we enjoyed a time of reflection.

Sea of Galilee

Boat ride on Sea of Galilee

Nof Ginnosar (where our hotel is) was our next stop. Here we first visited the ancient boat (“Jesus Boat”) found here in 1986 by two brothers from the kibbutz. It dates to the time of Jesus! We could picture this being the type of boat used by Jesus and His disciples. Then we enjoyed out our boat ride out on the lake. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14 (the two “storm narratives”… the wind was strong across the lake, adding to the “effect” of the stories) and enjoyed a time of worship and quiet reflection.

We ended the day by sitting on the Mt. of Beatitudes and listening to the words of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. This was where Jesus delivered His Sermon on the Mount. We reflected upon His kingdom principles as we walked down to the water’s edge in solitude. The scenery of the lake and mountains across the lake was spectacular!

Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee

Driving back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner and a free evening. What a fantastic day of focusing upon Jesus our Savior!

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, APRIL 29: KINNERET CEMETERY, BEIT SHEAN, BEIT APLHA, SHILOH, JERICHO, DEAD SEA

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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 5 Summary

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, MARCH 17:

Mt. Arbel

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

Today was a day around the Sea of Galilee, called Kinneret in Hebrew. The temps warmed to the high 60s, with partly sunny to overcast skies.

Leaving the hotel at 7:40, Mt. Arbel was our first stop. 17 in the group hiked the trail (about a 800 foot ascent), while the rest of the groups approached the top by bus and a short walk. Although a little hazy, the view from on top was spectacular. We all could imagine Jesus on top here as well.

Magdala synagogue

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala. Jesus must have taught from here!

Driving back down through Tiberias, Magdala was our next site. This served as the home of Mary Magdalene. Among the ruins, we saw a 1st century synagogue here (one of only seven in Israel). Jesus no doubt would have taught from here! We also enjoyed singing in the newly-built chapel. The acoustics were amazing!

From here we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to a place called Yardenit. Here, 15 in the group re-affirmed their faith in Christ by being baptized in the Jordan River. Although the water was “cool,” it was a special time for all!

Following lunch (St. Peter’s fish), we drove to the NW corner of the lake to Chorazim. This was one of three cities condemned by Jesus. Here we saw a 3d century synagogue and a replica of the “Moses Seatfound here. We read from Matthew 23.

Baptism in the Jordan River

Baptism in the Jordan River

Down below on the shoreline was Capernaum, the “home base” city for Jesus’ ministry. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue (most likely, the 1st century synagogue Jesus knew was below), we read from Mark 1, 2, 9; Luke7; and John 6. All of these stories took place here. We also saw a 5th century Byzantine Church here. We enjoyed a quiet moment also on the shoreline as we remembered that the disciples were called by Jesus here (Mt. 4).

At Nof Ginnosar we saw the “Jesus Boat,” a 1st century wooden boat found here in 1986. This visit was followed by our own boat ride out on the lake. On the very calm waters we read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14. Praise God that we can cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us through the “waves and storms” of life! On the boat we also enjoyed a time of worship.

boat ride on the Galilee

Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day on the Mt. of Beatitudes. As the sun was setting, we reflectively read from Matthew 5 (in Hebrew and English) and considered these kingdom principles for our own lives.

Returning to our hotels, we enjoyed dinner together. We returned to our rooms, packing our bags for check-out tomorrow as we leave in the morning for Jordan!

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, MARCH 18: JORDAN NORTHERN BORDER CROSSING, JERASH, MT. NEBO, MEDEBA, PETRA

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 4

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 26:

Mt. Arbel

The climb up Mt. Arbel

We spent the entire day around the Sea of Galilee. Once again greeted by sun and mild temps as we started the day, we began with Mt. Arbel. With another imagine Tours & Travel group (the TBA Church group from Lakeland, FL) joining us, many of us climbed this 800 foot mountain while others bussed to the top from the other side. The view from the top provided as an almost panoramic perspective of the Sea of Galilee below. We remembered a number of passages from the Gospels pertaining to the Sea of Galilee and the sharing of parables (e.g. Matthew 4 & 13).

Driving down through Tiberias, we arrived next at Magdala. This was where Mary Magdalene was from. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue from the time of Jesus (only one of seven found in Israel). No doubt Jesus taught here! We also enjoyed singing in the beautiful chapel. The acoustics were wonderful!

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala. Jesus would have taught here!

The 1st century synagogue at Magdala. Jesus would have taught here!

Next, Capernaum was our next site. This was the “ministry home base” for Jesus here in the Galilee. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1,2, and 9; Luke 7; and John 6. Many events took place here. Here we also saw 1st century remains of stone houses as well as a 5th century Byzantine church. We enjoyed a quiet time on the shoreline as well.

After lunch, we saw the “Jesus Boat,” a 1st century boat found in 1986 in the mud of the shoreline of the lake. It was amazing to be able to picture Jesus and the disciples in this boat. From here we took our own boat ride on the lake. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives about Jesus calming the storm. It was a special time of reflection and worship.

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

Sunset on the Sea of Galilee from the Mt. of Beatitudes

Next, we drove to the southern end of the lake. Here, the southern end of the Jordan River begins. We saw a few people being baptized here. Close by is the Kinneret Cemetery where the famous “Rachel” (a Ukrainian Jew) was buried. She was an early pioneer who lived in Israel’s first kibbutz located here at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. She was born in 1890. She died in 1931.

We ended the day by driving back north to the Mt. of Beatitudes. We heard Matthew 5 read in both Hebrew and English. We spent a few moments of quiet reflecting upon this kingdom message of Jesus. With the sun setting, we walked down the path that leads down to the water’s edge.

Driving back to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner together and a free evening. It was a great day here in the Galilee!

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 27: BEIT SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, DEAD SEA

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 5

DAY 5 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 14:

Mt. Arbel and the sea of galilee

Standing on the top of Mt. Arbel, with the Sea of Galilee below

Today was a mixed day in terms of weather. We enjoyed overcast skies (yet with great visibility) in the morning, with rain in the afternoon. Temps were about 60. After another great and filling breakfast, we departed the hotel for the trailhead for Mt. Arbel. Four in the group hiked up this 800 foot mountain, while the rest bussed to the other side to the visitor center and walked the remaining 300 yards to the top. The view of the Sea of Galilee and even Mt. Hermon 30 miles away was really good from the top. Perhaps this was a mountain where Jesus came to in order to escape the crowds from time to time. We remembered a few of Jesus’ kingdom parables’ from Matthew 13.

Driving down through Tiberias, we arrived at Magdala. One of only seven 1st century synagogues found in all of Israel was uncovered here a few years ago. Mary Magdalene was from here. Jesus and His disciples also sailed into the harbor here (Mark 9) and Jesus no doubt taught from this synagogue. Besides enjoying the ruins here, we also stepped into the new chapel built here, complete with beautiful wall mosaics. We also blended our voices in singing a few songs together.

Chorazim synagogue

Having fun pushing over pillars at the Chorazim synagogue (just kidding)

The next site were Chorazim. Located high off the water’s edge on this NW corner of the Sea of Galilee, this city (along with Bethsaida and Capernaum, was condemned by Jesus for their unbelief. We saw a miqve (ritual bath) here as well as the 3rd/4th century synagogue. In the synagogue we saw a replica of the Moses’ Seat found here (Matthew 23). The entire city was built with basaltic stone.

The last site before lunch was Capernaum (the “village of Nahum”). It was where Peter, Andrew, James, and John were living, along with Matthew the tax collector). In the 5th century synagogue (the 1st century one was located beneath) we read Mark 1,2, 9; Luke 7; and John 6 – all stories about Jesus here in this prominent city. We also saw the 5th century octagonal church also built here over the traditional house of Peter.

Following lunch, we visited the Ancient Boat (the “Jesus Boat) on the grounds of our hotel, Nof Ginnosar. This as a 1st century boat found in 1986. We could picture the Galilean fisherman using boats like this. We also enjoyed our own boat ride on the lake. We paused to read Mark 4 and Matthew 14, the two storm narratives. We worshipped and praised God for the peace He offers us as we trust in Him!

boat ride on sea of galilee

Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

We ended the day at Yardenit, the baptism site. Here, six reaffirmed their baptism vows in the chilly waters of the Jordan River! We also celebrated he baptism of Isabella, a young 15 year old proclaiming her faith for the first time!

We returned back to the hotel for dinner and a free evening. Despite the rainy weather this afternoon, it was another great day.

(** We also ask you to pray for a lady in our group who fell and broke her hip/upper femur two days ago. At the time of this update, she is in scheduled to have surgery in a hospital in Tiberias to repair the break.)

DAY 6 – SUNDAY, JANUARY 15: MT. OF BEATITUDES / REFLECTION DAY

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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5

November 2016 Israel tour group on precipice of nazareth

The Precipice of Nazareth

Today was another perfect weather day, with full sun once again and with highs around 80. Because of the annual bike race around the Sea of Galilee (1,000s of bikes!), we had to leave our hotel at 5:45 a.m. Because they closed the roads all morning, we also had to adjust our program.  So following an earlier breakfast, we departed the hotel and drove to Nazareth.  Here we drove to the top of the precipice of Nazareth for our first great view of the Jezreel Valley below! The view was wonderful, as we could see many of the stories of the Bible come to life from here (e.g. Deborah & Barak vs. Sisera at Mt. Tabor, Judges 4-5; Gideon & his 300 men vs. the Midianites on the Hill of Moreh,Judges 6-7; Elijah vs. prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, 1 Kings 18). But this was our first chance to consider the life and ministry of Jesus. Rejected in Nazareth (Luke 4), we were invited to “come and see” Jesus within the context of his hometown. Despite Nathaniel asking, “What good can come from Nazareth?”, Jesus came to be the Savior of the world!  Here on the precipice we also enjoyed a time of worship and reflection.

water system megiddo

The Israelite water system at Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we came to Megiddo. This is a large archaeological site with over 24 laters of ruins spanning about 2,000 years. Megiddo was a strategically important city that guarded the major route into the valley. Thutmose III, the Egyptian Pharaoh, even said, “to capture Megiddo was like capturing 1,000 cities…” Here we saw 3 sets of city gates, Solomon’s stables, a Canaanite high place, and an Israelite granary. We read from Revelation 16 about “Armageddon.” We left the site by descending down through the impressive water system.

From here we drove back towards the Sea of Galilee, specifically to the northwest corner of the lake. The site we visited before lunch was Magdala. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue, one of only seven found in Israel. Mary “Magdalene” was from here. It is highly likely that Jesus taught from this synagogue during His Galilean ministry. We also enjoyed blending our voices in singing in the meditation chapel built on the grounds.

Synagogue at magdala

The 1st Century synagogue at Magdala

Following lunch we visited the ancient boat (found in 1986). The boat dates to the 1st century, and was no doubt the size of a fishing boat back in Jesus’ day. We also enjoyed our own boat ride out on the lake. We enjoyed a time of worship. We also paused to reflect upon the storm narratives from Mark 4 and Matthew 16.

Chorazim was the next site. We saw a 3rd century AD synagogue here built with basaltic stone. This city sits high above the Sea of Galilee on this NW corner. It was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11, along with Capernaum and Bethsaida). We read from Matthew 23 that mentions the Moses’ Seat that was found here.

capernaum synagogue

The 5th century synagogue at Capernaum

Close by down at the water’s edge is Capernaum. This city served as the “ministry base” for Jesus. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1 & 2, Luke 7, and John 6, all references to Jesus teaching and ministry here. We also saw the “traditional” house of Peter as well as the 5th century octagonal church built around it.

Our last stop was on the top of the Mt. of Beatitudes. As the sun set, we listened to the words of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. It was a beautiful time of quietness sitting together on rocks with a marvelous view of the lake below.

We returned to our hotel for dinner and a free night. It was another great day!

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6 – GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, KATZRIN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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June 2016 Israel Tour – Day 5

Beatitudes

DAY 5 – SATURDAY, JUNE 25 Today was another warm day, with the usual sun and temps in the high 90s. The breezes made it OK though. After breakfast, we started off towards Mt. Arbel. After opening the day with one of the kingdom parables (Matthew 13), 17 in the group choose to hike the trail to the top (800 foot ascent that took 70 minutes), while the bus took the rest of the group to the top from the western approach. Although the view from on top was hazy, we could see almost the entire Sea of Galilee from here. Driving back through Tiberias, we arrived at Magdala. Mary Magdalene was from here. One of only seven 1st Century … Continue reading