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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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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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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Has the House of Jesus in Nazareth Been Found?

house of Jesus in Nazareth

Is this the house of Jesus in Nazareth? Archaeologist Ken Dark suggests it could be! (photo: Ken Dark)

Has the house of Jesus in Nazareth been found? I just came across an article the other day that suggests it has been found…. well, maybe! How is that for an answer!  It’s really the best I can do.

Now in the age of archaeological forgeries and church traditions, to answer this question requires great care. For to answer “yes” to this question holds the precarious potential for followers of Jesus to worship the place where Jesus potentially spent many years of His young life. But to answer “no” to this question may cause someone to begin to doubt the relationship we see between biblical archaeology and the Bible. To answer “no” may even cause the skeptic to doubt the historicity of the Gospel account.

Well, for sure archaeologists have uncovered in recent years the remains of 1st century stone structures. While the walls of what appears to be house structures have been dated to the time of Jesus primarily by the type of pottery found, we just can’t be sure to label this particular house as the very dwelling place of Jesus during His childhood years. However, I must admit that it is fascinating to think that it could be the house. But I think that is as far as we should go.

map of Nazareth

Map of Nazareth

According to archaeologist Ken Dark (of the University of Reading), the rock-hewn courthouse found argues that although the evidence can’t prove Jesus grew up in the house, it does suggest it’s possible. In Dark’s own words, “It is always very hard to link archaeological evidence to specific people.

All throughout Israel, there has been many places “venerated” as traditional locations associated with Jesus. The three examples that come to mind around the Sea of Galilee are these: The site of Tabgha – the location of the Feeding of the 5000; The site Peter Primacy – the location where Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection (John 21); and the site of Peter’s house in Capernaum (Mark 1). None really hold any archaeological weight, if you will. That doesn’t mean these “traditions” couldn’t be the very location of where the stories form the Gospels took place, but we just can’t be certain. We also have “traditional” sites for Jesus’ birth (Church of Nativity in Bethlehem), death & resurrection (Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem). So to identify this ancient 1st century house in Nazareth as the house of Jesus is quite intriguing!

Now if you hear a bit of skepticism within me, it’s only because there’s a big difference between identifying a stone house structure as a 1st century dwelling dating to the time of Jesus (which it for sure is!) and suggesting it could be the house of Jesus!  Saying this, I do appreciate Dark’s reluctance to say that this is actually the house of Jesus with definitive assertion.

According to the excavation report produced by the Nazareth Archaeological Project, the dig (that first started in 2006) “revealed a first-century ‘courtyard house’ that was partially hewn from naturally occurring rock and partially constructed with rock-built walls. Many of the home’s original features are still intact, including doors and windows. Also found at the site were tombs, a cistern and, later, a Byzantine church.” The presence of Byzantine ruins on top of the 1st century site does indicate that at the very least Christians in this Late Roman Period seemed to believe that this area was special for some reason. As the article states, “The remains combined with the description found in the seventh-century pilgrim account De Locus Sanctis point to the courtyard house found beneath the convent as what may have been regarded as Jesus’ home in Nazareth.”  While this adds some value to the statement that this was the house of Jesus, once again, it is only a tradition.

Nazareth in Israel

The city of Nazareth today

Today, a few other “traditional” sites are located in this general vicinity of the archaeological dig. This includes the Catholic Church called the Church of Annunciation (where Mary was visited by the angel in Luke 1) and a Greek Orthodox Church called the Church of the Well (where the town’s water source was originally located). Today, Nazareth is a city of about 100,000 people (Arabs and Jews).

Either way you want to look at this, I must admit that the archaeological discoveries and revelations are indeed intriguing! Just keep in mind that if archaeology does come up with definitive proof that this was the house of Jesus while growing up, we worship the Person and not the place. 

To read the Biblical Archaeology Review article HERE.

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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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September 2016 Israel Tour – Day 3

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

pool caesarea

Herod’s fresh-water swimming pool at Caesarea

Today was our first full day in Israel. The weather would be warm and sunny, with temps in the 90s. Following a great breakfast, we loaded the bus and drove north along the Med coastline to Caesarea. This was a city established by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Sitting in the theater, we heard the stories about Peter & Cornelius (Acts 10), Herod Antipas (Acts 12), and Paul (Acts 21 & 26). Paul would also sail in and out of the city’s harbor. We also saw Herod’s palace, a replica of the “Pilate Inscription,” the hippodrome, mosaics, the Crusader part of the city, and the aqueduct.

canaanite gate megiddo

Canaanite gate at Megiddo

Driving north and east, we ascended the Carmel Range to a place called Muhraha. Within the small Carmelite chapel we read the story of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal from 1 Kings 18. We also enjoyed singing together. From the rooftop of the chapel we enjoyed our first view of the Jezreel Valley. We could see Nazareth (Luke 1 & 4), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7) and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Following a visit to a nearby Druze restaurant, we descended to the Jezreel Valley and to the massive archaeological site of Megiddo. Here we talked about Israel being “the land between” the south (Egypt), and the north (Assyria, Babylon, etc…). Understanding the strategic importance of this city, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III (15th century BC) said that “capturing Megiddo was like taking 1,000 cities.” Joshua would later conquer the city (Joshua 12), with Solomon re-fortifying the city (1 Kings 9). On the site we saw 3 gate structures, Solomon’s horse stables, a Canaanite high place, and a grain bin. We talked about this being the place of “Armageddon” (Rev. 16) and rejoiced in the fact that God has the final word in the end times! We left the site by walking down and through the impressive water system.

mt tabor jezreel valley

Mt. Tabor and the Jezreel Valley

Sepporis was the next site. This was a huge Hellenized Jewish city during Jesus’ day and located only 4-5 miles from tiny Nazareth. We walked on Roman streets and saw amazing mosaics (including the famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee”). Although not mentioned in Scripture, for sure it as a prominent city visited by Jesus.

Driving to the precipice of Nazareth was our final stop for the day. We read from Luke 4 and John 1, as well as quietly listening to The Lord’s Prayer as we sat and overviewed the Jezreel Valley from the north. We were invited to “come and see” (John 1) Jesus with new eyes and a fresh heart. It was a wonderful time of “connecting the dots” between Scripture, the land, and the life and ministry of Jesus.

From here we drove to Nof Ginnosar, our “kibbutz-hotel” for the next three nights. We enjoyed dinner together, followed by an optional gathering at the water’s edge of the Sea of Galilee under the stars. A great way to finish our first great day!

 

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22: GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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June 2016 Israel Tour – Day 3

DAY 3 – THURSDAY, JUNE 23

Caesarea Aquaduct

Caesarea Aquaduct

Today was our first full day here. We had full sun (typical for this time of year) with temps around 95 (a little humid along the Med Sea coast but not bad otherwise). After a great breakfast, we checked out and boarded the bus. Our first stop was Caesarea. This was a city started by King Herod the Great in 22 BC. Starting in the theater, we read from Acts 9,10, 12, and 26. We celebrated the boldness of both Peter and Paul who proclaimed their faith here. Walking from the theater, we also saw the palace, fresh-water pool, hippodrome, mosaics, the harbor area, statues, and the walls and gates of the much-later Crusader Period city. Leaving the city we made a brief stop to also see the aqueduct.

From here we depart to Mt. Carmel. We read the story of Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We also sang in the Carmelite chapel. It is called Muhraqa (burnt offering). Although it was hazy, the rooftop view of the Jezreel Valley below allowed us to see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), and the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7). We enjoyed lunch nearby at a place owned by a Druze family.

Megiddo Canaanite Gate

Megiddo Canaanite Gate

We proceeded down from Mt. Carmel and into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. This is an archaeological site with over to dozen levels of ruins (dating back as early as the Early Bronze Age). The city in biblical days was a strategically located site. It was located on the main route into the Jezreel Valley. On the tel of Megiddo we saw 3 gate systems, a horse stable, a Canaanite altar, and a silo. We left the site by walking down through the city’s water system.

Across the Jezreel Valley was our next site, Sepporis. Located only 4 miles from Nazareth, this was the main city in the Lower Galilee area at the time of Jesus. As we walked the Roman streets of this city, we saw many mosaics, including the famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.”

on the Nazareth Precipice

On the Nazareth Precipice

Our last stop was to the precipice of Nazareth. Although only a traditional location for the “cliff” mentioned in Luke 4, the view of the Jezreel Valley was awesome. From here we once again saw Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Carmel. We read from Luke 4 and John 1. We were invited to “come and see” Jesus (Philip’s words from John 1). It was a great place to end the day!

Driving through Cana (John 2) and the hills of the Lower Galilee, we arrived at our hotel for the next three nights, Nof Ginnosar. We enjoyed dinner together followed by a free evening.

DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JUNE 24: GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN, ABEL BEIT MAACAH

 

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