On Saturday we started the journey to the airport to pick up the missing piece to the family puzzle! Brandon will join the trip today. Cassidy is so happy to have another person under the age of 45 with us in Israel. Candace is happy to have both of her kids join us. And so am I! It’s amazing to have Brandon with us while he is taking his third year of Bible College. Seeing the land of the Bible helps one understand the geography of the Bible. It makes stories easier to remember and comprehend. Cassidy will just be starting Bible College in fall and this experience will be of tremendous value. I always think that people need to come to Israel earlier in life so that their life ministry will be impacted.
The first thing we did on Saturday morning was to drive to the top of Mount Arbel. We live at the base of the mountain and the Magdala Stone we heard about on Friday was taken from the top of the mount and then carved. Mount Arbel can be noticed from everywhere around the Sea of Galilee because of its distinguished peak. During the first Jewish-Roman War (66-73), Josephus (the Jewish famous historian) was appointed the rebel command leader in Galilee. It was from Mount Arbel that many Jews were thrown off by Roman forces to quell and destroy the revolt. It then moved to Jerusalem (where the temple was destroyed) and then the final stand happened at Masada (which is talked about in my third blog post). This war was a huge defeat for Israel and led to having no country for 1900 years (until 1948).
The views from Mount Arbel were fantastic, even though it was a little cloudy. The pictures can never capture what you all see with your eyes. I appreciate taking pictures, but it reminds me to take in the experience while I am there. Live in the present, enjoy the climb, take in the view, smell the flowers, say a prayer to our Creator God, imagine what it was like when Jesus walked this earth. The path from Nazareth that Jesus would have taken was right at the valley below this mountain, a great view of the valley from the mountain top.
Our next stop was along the Mediterranean Sea where we were able to walk along the beach, look for some sea shells and walk among some reefs. It was a relaxing stroll on a Saturday afternoon. Then we went and saw a Crusader Castle in Tel Aviv that also had a nature park attached. We are really enjoying the landscape and parks that Israel’s National Parks are preserving.
We had about an hour left before we went to the airport. So we found a parking lot by a park and were just going to relax. I went for a walk and found a zoo, Cassidy thought it would be cool to check it out. It was so fun! We saw monkeys and lemurs, peacocks and parrots and so much more. They also had a petting zoo with all the same animals we have at the Youth Farm! Sort of missed home for a fleeting moment, especially when Jacob posted that we had lots of animals giving birth.
We we went to the Tel Aviv airport and had a great celebration when our tour group went from three to four! We are so happy and pleased to all be together touring around the holy land!
Today we started the day off by going to Tel Dan Nature Reserve. There was a walk that was called the Garden of Eden. Large rocks are placed by a stream and you walk around an oval of lush green vegetation and trees. It was a treasure to be so close to rushing water and vegetation, taking in God’s creation in worship on Sunday morning.
Dan is in the Golan Heights of Northern Israel. We saw some ruins from the city that was built by the Israelites. When Rehoboam became king of the Northern Kingdom, a golden calf was placed at Dan. The Northern Kingdom of Israel were more often selfish then selfless. Elijah was a prophet warning the Northern Kingdom of their rebellion. Dan was one of the power cities of this kingdom. Reminded me that rebellion against God can be a part of us as well - whenever we seek our ways before the Lords ways.
Then we went to two special places for me in Israel. The first is Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asked Peter who he is. Peter responded that Jesus is the Messiah. I believe that Jesus then pointed that upon this rock I will build the church and the Gates of Hades will not overcome it. There is a large red cliff that has a cave in it known as the Gates of Hades. It is wild to be at a spot that Jesus used as symbolism/word picture for his teaching. The church is to be built on a rock - just like the wise man is to be building their house on a rock. That’s the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
Then we checked out Kursi, the site that Jesus healed a man with a legion of demons. The demons were then permitted to go into swine and stampeded into the sea. A monastery and church were built on this site in 500AD. People also think that the location may be wrong, but it doesn’t really matter to me, we can still celebrate the healing and how this man went and told many people in nearby cities about Jesus.
The last site of the day was Capernaum - the other special place for me. The last two times I came, we had the place to ourselves. This time there were six or seven tour buses there. No problems, sitting by the sea and being a few feet away from the house of Peter (where Jesus performed a few miracles) is great for me. Checking out the 4th century synagogue that was built on top of the 1st century one is also great. Jesus taught at this site! This was his home base for ministry!!
We are enjoying this very special trip!