It's been three days since I last posted a blog. I have no idea how I am going to do justice to what we've seen. It's been a whirlwind of biblical sites. The fact is I'm not going to be able to fill in all the blanks for you, so I am just going to list the places we visited and add a note or two along the way.
- Caesarea Maritima - the ancient Roman seaport. King Herod the Great built this city on the Mediteranean Sea. It is filled with all kinds of ruins. It boasts a 3500 seat theatre, a hippodrome where chariot races were held. These weren't the kinds of races where the winner is the one who crossed the finish line first. In Roman chariot races the winner was the last one still alive. Herod also had one of his many palaces here. There was a major port here, and it was Pontius Pilot's headquarters.
- Mount Carmel - This is the place were Elijah had his showdown with the prophets of bale. The vast panorama of the Jezreel valley is a sight to behold. (1 Kings 18)
- Megiddo, Hebrew for Armageddon. This amazing site is a tel with 25 layers of civilizations buried beneath it's rubble. King Solomon built a huge fortress here. Megiddo was on an important trading route between Babylonia and Egypt. And of course, Revelations predicts that a final battle will be fought here.
- Ceassarea Philippi - This is the site where Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:13-23) There was once a huge pagan temple to the god Pan. The ancients believed that a water filled cave in the temple was the gateway to Hades. Jesus, while standing at this site with his disciples, said that the gates of hades will not be able to hold back his church.
- Tel Dan - Lots of history here. King Jeraboam erected a golden calf here in competition with the Temple in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 10; 2 Chron. 13)
- Golan Heights - From Mount Bental in the Golan Heights we had a great panoramic view of Syria. We were able to see why this site is so strategically important for Israel.
- Mount of Beatitudes - This is the site where Jesus preached his most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7) There is a great view of the Sea of Galilee from the top of the hill.
- Tabgha - Jesus miraculously fed five thousand men plus women and children with a few small fish a few loaves of bread.
- Capernaum - Jesus' ministry headquarters and Peter's house.
- The site of the Primacy of Peter. (John 21) This is the likely spot where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him and each time Peter replied, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
- Sea of Galilee boat ride. This is always a highlight. Daniel, the boat's owner and captain gives tells the story of how he met Jesus while working on one of these boats and since then he has dedicated his life to spreading the good news about the Messiah, Yeshua. He then leads us in worship. It is a very powerful experience to be on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent much of his time with the disciples and worshipping him in the land where he walked.
Like I said, it's been a whirlwind of a couple days. Over and over again the thing I hear from various members of the group is, "It gets better each day." God is showing up at each stage of the day. My heart is so full it's nearly bursting. I told someone today that I cannot get enough of it here. We have a few more very full days coming up. Please pray for us that we would listen to Jesus speak to us through his word and through the land where he walked.