Visiting Israel for 11 Days
Upon landing at Ben Gurion International Airport, we meet our Israeli tour guide and will be escorted to the bus waiting to take us to our hotel in nearby Netanya, in the territory allotted to the tribe of Manasseh. We will check in for dinner and spend the night in this beautiful city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, known in the Bible as the Great Sea. This morning, we will depart for Galilee, visiting biblical sites at Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that Cornelius the centurion and his household were saved and baptized, and it was also where Paul made his defense before Festus and King Agrippa before his journey to Rome. We will then proceed to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, then break for lunch in a Druze Village. Time permitting, we will proceed to Nain where Jesus raised a young man from death and reunited him with his mother, making a brief stop overlooking Mount Tabor to discuss the battle Barak fought with Sisera. After lunch, we will proceed to Tel Megiddo overlooking the Valley of Armageddon. We will then journey to Nazareth where we will step back in time at Nazareth Village, a living history of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. We will then journey to Mt. Precipice, where Jesus was officially rejected by his hometown people. From there, we will proceed to Cana, the location of Christ’s first miracle, where we will hear from a local evangelical pastor what God is doing in that community. We will conclude our day by journeying to the Sea of Galilee, where we will arrive at our hotel in Tiberius. Nothing beats watching the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee, where we will begin our day. First, we will proceed to the Mt. of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached His most famous sermon known as the Sermon on the Mount. Then, we drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah. After lunch together, we will continue to Tel Dan, one of ancient Israel’s boundary markers where we will discuss the biblical importance of this place. We will then travel through the Golan Heights to better understand the strategic importance of this region to the security of Israel. We will also walk the streets of Chorazin, one of the three “cities of woe” that Jesus rebuked. From there, we will proceed to the site of the Gadarenes, where the Lord sent the demons into the herd of swine. We will proceed to Ginossar to see the ancient 2,000-year-old “Jesus Boat” that is typical of the boats that were used by Jesus and his disciples. We will complete our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as we worship together and reflect on the miracles that took place on the water, in the water, and around the sea. Dinner and overnight will be back in Tiberias.
Observing the Judean Wilderness
After another famous Israeli buffet breakfast, we will start the day visiting the town of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene and the location of a synagogue from the time of Christ’s ministry was found. From there, we will travel to Tabgha, the site where the Lord Jesus met His disciples after the resurrection and publicly reinstated Peter. We will then travel to Capernaum, Jesus’ headquarters for His public ministry, and where He performed so many of His miracles. We will have the opportunity to stand in the ruins of the synagogue, where Jesus taught and cast out a demon, while seeing the place where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Next, we will visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung from the city walls after being defeated by the Philistines. Time allowing, we will then proceed for a brief devotional at Gideon Springs, where at the bottom of Mount Gilboa, God reduced Gideon’s army to only 300 men. On our way to Jerusalem, we will stop at the Samaritan village on Mount Gerizim. The mountain is the religious center for the Samaritan religion, we will also stop at the Joseph lookout to view Shechem and Jacob’s Well. As we approach Jerusalem, we will stop at the Valley of the Shadow to observe the desolate Judean Wilderness. We will then ascend to the majestic city of Jerusalem to our hotel and then join together for a special time with a local family for a Shabbat dinner. We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. We will consider here the site of the Ascension and Jesus’s return to this same mountain, and will observe the famous Temple Mount for the third temple, the Eastern Gate that Jesus will walk through when He returns, along with other critical places from this vantage point. Our pilgrimage proceeds down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, where we will meet in a private garden for a devotion and time of prayer. If time permits, we will stop briefly at the Church of the Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will then make our way into the old city through St. Stephen’s Gate. Part of the Old City walk is the Via Dolorosa, including the Pavement where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate, the Ecce Homo Arch, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We will also view the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus performed the Sabbath day miracle, and we will sing in the ancient Crusader Church of St. Anne. After lunch, we will proceed with a visit to Bethlehem. We will pass by Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts, and visit the Church of the Nativity, Shepherd’s Field, and the cave of Jerome. We will also have a visit to a local church known as Bethlehem Ministries, where we will hear of the conversion story of the pastor from Islam, along with some of the challenges & opportunities for ministry they are facing. Then, we will return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. This morning, we will enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David. On this site now stands the El-Aksa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock. We will follow the Herodian support wall and walk on first-century pavement in the Rabbi’s Tunnel, where we will come as close as possible to the Holy of Holies. We continue on our tour of Jerusalem to the Jewish Quarter for a unique visit of the Temple Institute. Here, we will learn how phase one of the preparations for the Third Temple have been completed and of the future plans to rebuild. Along the way, we will go to the Cardo, and ancient marketplace with ruins dating back to the Judean monarchy among modern day shops. Then, we make our way on the Herodian Street where we will witness with our physical eyes a prophecy that Jesus made. Then, we will proceed to the Southern Steps, the access point to the Temple in our Lord’s time. Here we will sit on these steps and consider some of the great events that took place here. Next, we will visit the incredible archaeological find, the City of David. Here, we take a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. For those who prefer to stay dry, you will have the opportunity to see what is called “Warren’s Shaft” by which David conquered the city from the Jebusites. We will all then meet to visit the new excavations of the Pool of Siloam. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls
After breakfast, we will Travel to Tel Shiloh in the biblical land of Ephraim. Here, was the first permanent settlement for the Holy Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. In this locale, we will consider the vineyards and imagine the story of the tribe of Benjamin taking for themselves wives, which is commemorated in the holiday of love called Tu’Bav. Upon our return to Jerusalem, we will visit the city outside the walls. We will pass by the Supreme Court House, the Knesset, and the famous Rose Garden on the way to the Yad Vashem Memorial, where we will receive a personal tour with orthodox Rabbi Hanoch Teller, a renowned author and Holocaust scholar. We will then enjoy the world-famous Israel Museum, where we will gain some insights into the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day by looking at a first century model of the city. This is also the location of the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed including a display of the Book of Isaiah. We will conclude the day with the Lord’s Table as we reflect the agony of the crucifixion at the Place of the Skull and the victory of the resurrection at the Garden Tomb, returning to our hotel for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we will depart from Jerusalem in the direction of Jericho which is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop will be at Qasr el Yahud on the Jordan River for a service for all those who are interested in being baptized. This part of the Jordan River is in the very area where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and this is the spot considered by the Hebrew people to be the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and where Elijah the Prophet ascended to heaven. Our next stop will be at Qumran, the location of the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947 after being hidden for 19 centuries by the Essenes who copied them. From there, we will travel to Engedi, the rock refuge where David penned many of the psalms and where he hid from King Saul. After lunch (this is the only meal not included), we will cable car to the top of Masada, the spectacular mountaintop fortress built by Herod the Great that later became the final tragic stronghold of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. Here, we will survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, a synagogue and Herod’s luxurious palace. We will then go to the shores of the Dead Sea to our hotel where we will experience the salt and mineral laden waters at the lowest point on earth. After a leisurely breakfast at the Dead Sea, we will continue the day to Tel Beer Sheva in which the forefathers of the Jewish nation lived and worked. From there, we will visit Beit Guvrin which served as a major crossroad for commerce in ancient Israel and we will learn some basic principles on how archeological digs are done and their importance to biblical history. After lunch (not included), we visit the Elah Valley where David confronted and slew the giant Goliath. From there, we will make our way to Jaffa, where Peter stayed at the house of Simon the Tanner and was given the vision from God to preach to Cornelius. This is also the port where Jonah fled from his call from God and boarded a ship to Tarshish. The day will conclude with an unforgettable Farewell Dinner before we make our way back to Ben Gurion Airport for the flight back to the U.S.A.