DAY 1-2 – MONDAY-TUESDAY, JANUARY 14-15: DEPART FOR & ARRIVE IN ISRAEL, KIRIATH YEARIM, GEZER, Tel Aviv
With great anticipation for the start of this trip, most of the group met today at the Toronto airport for our non-stop flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. Coming from all different parts of the country, we all were so excited that departure day finally came! The flight to Tel Aviv was a good one, landing at about 10:15 a.m. After the usual passport procedures and securing our luggage, we met the others who had arranged their own flight to Israel.
With the afternoon ahead us, we made good use of our time by first traveling to a site located on the western edge of the Hill Country of Judah, Kiriath Yearim. In addition to a Crusader Church built here, this is where new excavations took place last summer. We saw some of the large 8th century BC retaining walls used here. According to I Samuel 7, this is where the Ark of the Covenant was for 20 years. David (2 Samuel 6) would be the one to take it to Jerusalem. Just to think that David and and Ark was once here is amazing to ponder!
“Today we landed in Israel. Wow… what a thrill! To think that much of the Bible took place is is incredible to consider. Even though I didn’t sleep too much on the plane ride over, seeing the two biblical sites today was a great start! Can’t wait to see more sites!” – Tour participant –
Traveling back west into the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah, we carefully traversed the rained out dirt road in our bus to Tel Gezer. Here we saw a Canaanite/Middle Bronze ruins (a stone tower, water system, fortification walls, and a 6-chamber gate) as well as IIsraelite/Iron Age ruins (this includes a gate built by Solomon, 1 Kings 9). We also learned about the Gezer Calendar found here about 100 years ago and read from Ecclesiastes 3. We celebrated God’s control over all of our seasons of life!
Driving to the area south of Tel Aviv, we made a brief stop in Joppa (Jaffa). Jonah sailed from here (Jonah 1). Peter also healed from here. We also saw a vision to take the Gospel to Gentiles here (Acts 9 & 10). The view of the coastline of Tel Aviv was very nice.
We drove to our hotel in Tel Aviv, where we checked in, enjoyed dinner together, and an orientation meeting to follow. Some walk on the beach before retiring for the night! Int is so very good to be here in Israel, the land of the Bible!
DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16: BETH SHEMESH, AZEKAH, GATH, BEIT GUVRIN, LACHISH, BEERSHEBA