January 20, 2016
Now that we’ve returned from our study tour you’ll hopefully be able to talk to one of us in person about what we saw, heard, learned, and experienced!
Below is a wrap up video that serves as a nice summary of the trip and a reminder of all that we did.
January 12, 2016
I walked onto the Turkish Airlines plane at O’Hare full of expectations. Like many Jews and Christians, I had dreamed about the Land since I was a child, thinking it to be this magical place where heaven and earth meet in a unique way. I had expectations of certain places; places I had read about, watched documentaries about, and spoken to people about for years. The Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; these were some of the places that I had been expecting to have dramatic experiences at. But one of the places we visited today, the last of our journey together, had not even been on my list – Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations that resides the
January 11, 2016
We began the day by visiting the awe-inspiring site of the Herodian, a fortress built by Herod the Great in the first century. He was the King of the Jews who was appointed by Caesar because of his incredible political savvy. His great aspirations for fame, power and prestige were almost thwarted because he only ruled over a very small area. Instead of giving up, he used techniques we still can’t figure out to build some of the most amazing structures in the world. The fortress of the Herodian is one of these structures. It sits on top of a mountain and had very large walls, so large that Herod could see over Bethlehem and into Jerusalem from the tower. He demolished the mountain next to his so that he could pile up the rubble around the Herodian, creating a very steep climb up to his fortress. It would be nearly impossible to siege this structure. In his desire to defy nature, he also created water cisterns within the mountain that could hold over ten years’ worth of water for the whole fortress in a place where water is very difficult to acquire. In order to accomplish this building project, he had to: command an incredible amount of slaves, impose very heavy taxes, kill anyone who threatened his plans, and dominate everyone in his path. It is nearly impossible for us to imagine the earthly power of this man.
January 10, 2016
Our first day in Jerusalem and we experienced a whirlwind of newness. At least I believe this to be true for most on this trip. New sights, sounds, and smells. New glimpses of culture and belief. Today so many things about our world and the people in it became so much more than just photos and information we have comprehended before. It all became real.
January 9, 2016
Today marked the fifth day of our journey in the land of Israel and the trip has been an incredible experience. I am learning to read my Bible geographically and am beginning to understand how the climate and topography of the land has helped shape the story of scripture. More importantly, I am drawing closer to the Lord as I learn how to read his word more carefully. It has been a blessing to explore the land of Israel and soak up the scenery of where Jesus did ministry while he was here on earth. The stories of scripture are coming alive in new ways and I’m truly entering into the world of the Bible!
January 8, 2016
After a wet and rainy morning at Tel(l) Dan and Caesarea Philippi, the fourth day of our Israel Tour continued in the afternoon with stops to Capernaum and Magdala and a pass by of the site where most people think the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, took place.
As we arrived on site at Capernaum, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee, we went to an enclosure to hear a message from President Stowell. Speaking from John 21:15, he describes Peter around this general location being questioned by Christ on if he really loved him. Peter previously to this point went out fishing with the disciples in an attempt to go off course and away from their calling. This essentially would put the kingdom of God at high risk as these men represented the messengers Christ that would carry on his message. Before this point, Peter denied Christ as he was making his way towards the cross. In the words of Dr. Stowell, Peter is feeling like a personal failure.
January 6, 2016
The incredible backstory, involving Julius Caesar, Antipater, and Marc Antony, much of which was recorded by Josephus Flavius, to the area of Masada really energizes the realities that were involved there. It was the Hasmoneans who first discovered the advantages of this particular site. Fast forward to when Herod (“the Great”) became involved, he demonstrated his political savviness after Octavian beat Marc Antony, Herod quickly shifted his allegiance and was made the “king of the Jews.” From here, his building efforts became unparalleled. He had big ideas that included everything big! His desire for a mountain fortress/palace atop of Masada not only demonstrated this, but also his growing paranoia. We considered how he felt when the Magi stated that they were seeking the “King of the Jews.”
January 5, 2016
On the first day of the GRTS Israel trip, we spent the day in the Shephelah, the longitudinal region between the coastal plain and the hill country. We began by visiting Kiriath Jearim, Gath, and Beth Shemesh in the morning. In the Shephelah are valleys that provide access into the hill country from the coastal plain. Therefore, they are strategically important and figure prominently in the Bible, especially in conflict with other peoples. In the afternoon, we saw Azekah and Lachish. Both of these are important cities located in the middle of these important valleys. They are important in understanding conflict in the Old Testament.
November 12, 2015
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!