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!



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