February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 3


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 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 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.



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


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 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.



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.



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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 3


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 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.


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


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!


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March 2014 Day 6

Friday, March 14 – Day 6 We left Tiberias at 7:45 this morning.  We headed south towards the end of the Sea of Galilee.  The morning sky was better than the last two days.  We made our first stop briefly at the Kenneret Cemetery.  A Jewish woman named “Rachel” was buried here.  She was a famous poet.  Leaving the lake, we continued south to Beth Shean (Bethshan).  We read from 1 Samuel 31 about how Saul’s body was placed on the walls of this city by the Philistines.  We also read from 2 Corinthians 1 about Paul’s admonition to “stand firm” in our faith that much like a sturdy Roman pillar.  We site is massive, complete with an OT “tel” … Continue reading