Yet another Israel trip has come and gone. What another great trip with another great group! While the weather (especially in Jerusalem) could have been more pleasant (rain is a blessing for Israel!), we still had a great encounter with God in His land!
Once again, God gathered a group from everywhere. We had a diverse group, with 6 or 7 pastors along as well as a family of five from Australia. We even had a 96 year old man with us. What a trooper he was!!
Landing mid-morning in Tel Aviv, this allowed us to see Gezer, Beth Shemesh, and Qeiyafa (in the Elah Valley where David defeated Goliath) before driving to Jaffa and later to our first night’s hotel in Netanya. This was an added blessing.
Traveling north on our first full day, the group had a good taste of both Old and New Testament sites. This included Caesarea, Mt. Carmel (although visibilities were poor from the top of the mountain range), Megiddo, and Nazareth. Spending two nights in Tiberias, we enjoyed the Sea of Galilee and a full day dedicated to the life and ministry of Christ. The day included Mt. Arbel, Magdala, Capernaum, Mt. of Beatitudes, the ancient boat, a boat ride (with worship and reflection), and an optional baptism in the Jordan. While the water was chilly, it was a special time of reaffirmation!
Driving south the next day, we enjoyed Beth Shean, Shiloh (where the Ark of the Covenant was kept 369 according to the Talmud), and Jericho before driving to Ein Bokek and our hotel on the southern shores of the Dead Sea. Many experienced “floating” in this mineral-rich salty body of water.
Taking in Masada, Engedi, Qumran (some explored Cave 1, most hiked to Cave 11), and an overview of the Wadi Qelt (Judean Desert) enroute to Jerusalem, we arrived at our hotel in Israel’s capital city for dinner and a walk to the Western Wall.
Our days in Jerusalem were wonderful despite the cold rain most of the days. We enjoyed a few dry hours on the Mt. of Olives, our first view of the Old City and the Temple Mount. Walking down the Mt. of Olives to Gethsemane, here we paused to consider the passion of Christ before entering the city. We walked the Via Dolorosa (although archaeology suggests that Jesus carried His cross to Calvary from the opposite direction), arriving at the Holy Sepulcher Church. The afternoon was spent at Herodium and in Bethlehem.
The next two days in Jerusalem included the Western Wall tunnels, Temple Institute, a conversation with Moshe, an Orthodox Jew who owns a wonderful shop called Shorashim), the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum), the Garden Tomb (it actually snowed here!), the City of David (and Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam), and the south-wall excavations of the Temple.
While this tour was the shortest one I lead, we saw a lot together!
As predicted, everyone’s preconceptions of Israel as not being safe were quickly dispelled once we arrive and encountered the land together. Again, I feel so very sorry for those who choose not to travel to Israel out of fear. What is missed is a life-changing experience! Israel is safe!
Thanks be to God for another great trip!