DAY 7– FRIDAY, MARCH 20
Today was a little cooler, but still very pleasant (sunny with temps in the 60s). We loaded the bus following breakfast and left the Sea of Galilee area. We drove through Cana and the Lower Galilee to the precipice of Nazareth. Here we saw our first view of the Jezreel Valley. In view was Gilead (across the Jordan Valley in Jordan), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Sam 31), and Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). We paused to consider what Nathaniel said in John 1 when questioned if he found the Messiah. He simply said, “Come and see!” We reflected as we enjoyed the view of Jesus’ “backyard” here while listening to “Jesus, Only Jesus.”
From here we descended off the precipice into the Jezreel Valley. Driving across the valley to the southwest, our next stop was Megiddo. This is a huge archaeological site with about two dozen destruction levels. We saw various gate structures (from Canaanite to Israelite), stables (usually attributed to Solomon), a round Canaanite altar, and a grain silo. We exited the site by walking down 180 steps to the city’s ancient water system. It was a tunnel system cut into bedrock in order to safely bring water into the city.
Climbing the Mt. Carmel range, we arrived next to Muhraqa (“burnt offering”). Here the story was told of Elijah “defying the odds” against the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Here, God sent fire from heaven to the water-drenched altar. We also read Song of Songs 7 and John 7. Following this visit we enjoyed lunch as another Druze restaurant right on Mt. Carmel.
Our last site of the day was Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. We sat in the theater while hearing the stories of Peter (Acts 10), Agrippa II (Acts 12) and Paul (Acts 26). While walking along the Med Sea coastline, we saw the palace, hippodrome, and many mosaics. Within the Crusader part of the city we could see where the famous harbor was. Paul would have used this port himself. Lastly, we saw the aqueduct which brought water from Mt Carmel into the city.
In the mid afternoon, we began our drive to Jerusalem. It was about a two hour drive. Once arriving at the Dan Botique hotel, we checked in and freshened up. We got our first few peaks at the Old City walls of this amazing city! Following dinner, an optional walk to the Western Wall was enjoyed. Although “activity” at The Wall was light this late into Shabbat, it was magnificent to see all lit up at night.
We are thrilled to be in Jerusalem and are looking forward to the next 3 days here.
DAY 8– SATURDAY, MARCH 21
We plan to visit the Mt. of Olives, Old City, Via Dolorosa, Bethlehem, and Herodium.