Everybody was on the bus this morning 5 minutes early. There was eagerness in the air. We woke this morning to the Mediterranean Sea waves gently rolling onto the beach outside our hotel window. (Really suffering for Jesus!) We got a great nights rest and the Jet Lag had dissipated. Everybody was ready to get into the history of their Christian roots. We got on the bus. Its a tour bus like you see in the states. Air Conditioned. Travel is first rate on the Parkway Holy Land Tours. We headed north from Tel Aviv to the Galilee area. Much of north Israel reminds me of the areas of California and some of the Phoenix and Flagstaff area. There is a mix of palm trees, pine trees, and Oak. There are rolling hills everywhere with lush shrubbery. We saw banana trees, crops of every kind. It is a fact that America sends scientists to Israel to study how to do an advanced drip system for irrigation.
Our first stop was to the historic sight of Megiddo. Megiddo is referenced throughout the Old Testament and also in the book of Revelation. If you take the Revelation passage literally then the Valley of Megiddo is where the last battle will be fought where Lucifer is defeated by the King of Kings and His angelic Army. We call this place the Valley of Armageddon. Megiddo is a city that dates back up to 5000 years ago. Archaeological digs have found 25 different civilizations built on the sight. When one civilization was established and a king and his army came in and defeated it…they would level the current city, fill in the gaps with dirt and build right on top of the now destroyed city with their own culture and architecture. Imagine this happening 25 times. It literally is a man made mountain. On this sight they discovered an ancient Altar that is approximately 30 feet wide. The altar is a giant circle made from unhewn stones just like God directed the Israelites to build for sacrifices. There is no doubt that Solomon would have participated in animal sacrifices on this very altar. The Battles fought around this site where fought by many of the great “celebrities” of the Bible. Debra, Solomon, Ahab, Jezebel, Gideon and more! As we walked into the site we walked up steps that Solomon would have walked on. If those steps and walls could only speak. How many incredible stories would they share? We journeyed through a long tunnel dug by King Ahab to provide water to the city. Very cool place.
After about an hour or so we departed to Mount Carmel. This is the site where Elijah did the competition with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18) It is a high mountain where you can see for miles throughout Northern Galilee. Just at the base of this mountain Elijah had all 800 false prophets slaughtered. It is fascinating to stand on the ground where this all happened and try to imagine it actually taking place.
Right after Carmel we had lunch at a local place where the group got is first taste of Falafals. Google it and you’ll see what it is. What the Cheese Burger is to America…Falafels are to Israel. It is fried Chickpeas, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and humus…all stuffed in a Pita. I love them. As I type this I crave another one already!
After lunch we drove to Nazareth. Jesus’ home town. While there we did an hour tour of what is called Nazareth Village. You could check out its website. nazarethvillage.com. It is a re-creation of Nazareth 2000 years ago. The pictures you see with this blog are from this tour. You see a sheepfold where a shepherd keeps his sheep at night. Read John 10 and take a look at the photo. You’ll recognize that there is no gate on a sheepfold. The shepherd IS the gate. Jesus said…”I am the gate!”
From this site you will also see a photo of a “gate” or door. There are two doors in one. One large door and and a smaller one built into the large one. Jesus’ teachings come to life when you think about him saying…”enter through the narrow gate.” He also taught, “its easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.” The small opening in the photo is also called the eye of the needle. Nearly impossible for a camel to get through.
When we were finished at Nazareth Village we headed to Mount Precipice. This is the traditional location where Jesus’ “friends” and some family tried to kill him by throwing him off the cliff. You can read the story in Luke 4:14-30. It is amazing to think that so many people had the Messiah right there in their presence and they rejected Him and tried to kill him. I thought often today about which crowd I might have been in if I were alive when Jesus lived on earth. Would you have taken Him at his word or would you have been in the crowd that didn’t believe. I’d like to think I would have believed. What would you have thought if one of your neighbors or your cousin while at a community gathering stepped up and said…”I am the Son of God, the Messiah.” Would you believe or would you try to throw them off a cliff?
We ended the day by driving to our hotel which is built on the literal shore of the Sea of Galilee. Some in our group walked out onto the patio and leaned on the rail and looked out on the waters of the Sea and tried to imagine Jesus walking on that very water.
What a trip so far. Most of the sites we started with aren’t really personal…they are more historical. Tomorrow we start the day with a boat ride on the sea. Visit Capernaum and the location where Jesus fed the 5000. The sites we start seeing tomorrow start getting personal and emotional. What a trip. I hope to bring you here in the future!
Stay tuned! The locations are getting better everyday!
I’m off to bed. I hope your Monday goes as good as mine did. I do wish you were here with me.