Israel Study Tour - Bridgeway Christian Church

Aug 31 - Sep 11, 2015

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The bible came to life

This morning we left the Sea of Galilee and began making our way south west, ultimately arriving in Jerusalem in the evening. During our travels we visited Tel Beit She’an and the Roman City Scythopolis, Mt of Precipice directly across from Jesus’ Nazareth and looking over the Jezreel Valley. We traveled to Mt Carmel and on to Ceasarea and the Mediterranean Sea. We are now in Jerusalem and are ready to begin exploring the City tomorrow.

Today was another day of free cappuccinos, delicious new food options, and another goodbye. Today we said goodbye to the Sea of Galilee(SoG) and got back on our reliable (air conditioned!) bus with our skilled bus driver Igal and fun and crazy intelligent guide Ronen. Day 6 was another day of walking, hiking, picture taking…all in the hopes to absorb all the incredible biblical history in this land. What continues to stand out is how this place reminds me of California. We swam in a lake (SoG) similar to Folsom Lake but cleaner and warmer and ended the day with myself and (?)Mark jumping into the Mediterranean, similar to the Pacific but again cleaner and warmer. The weather, terrain and busy life style all remind me of home. However the bathrooms in their national parks are cleaner and always have soap! :p

Mt. Carmel

Biblically, Mt. Carmel is referenced most often as a symbol of beauty and fertility. To be given the “splendor of Carmel” was to be blessed indeed (Isa 35:2). Solomon praised his beloved: “your head crowns you like Mount Carmel” (Song 7:5). But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4).

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The bible came to life as we sat on Mt. Carmel and Richard reminded us of the square off between Elijah and the prophets of Baal 1Kings 18. Matt painted an intense scene of what it would have looked like with the thousands of people surrounding the mountain to see the showdown and how God’s power was revealed through the fire raining from above and then rain coming to the land when the people cried out, “’The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.’” Every place we go I think, “if only I could time travel to this exact place when these events occurred” but that’s the mystery and the excitement that draws us to these locations. They cause our hearts to stand more in awe of God’s work in the lives of his kids and how He continues to use the circumstances of this world and our choices to love on us, His grafted in children. OK…I realize I’m preaching now. There are many more things to share but you’ll just have to ask us when we come home! See you soon! Keep praying for health and our hearts to know God more intimately. To Jerusalem we go!!!

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As we hiked along the path to Beth She’an we came to a tell where 5000 years ago people started a community. This particular tell had some twenty layers which means multiple cities built upon it. As we continued our hike we reached the hilltop, immediately our eyes locked onto the Roman built Decapolis. There were many wows from the group. We gathered at the top for a brief history and then descended to the gates of the city. Our guide explaining what it would be like to have come from a small community to the Decapolis for the first time. This city had everything anyone would want. The temptations of a big city filled with people from around the world brought to mind Jesus’ account of the prodigal son.

Although it suffered from a massive earthquake in 749 AD much of it still stands; market place, theater, gymnasium, swimming pools and what our guide says is the largest sauna in existence. This city even had storm drains and a sewer system.

Beth Shean

Located 17 miles (27 km) south of the Sea of Galilee, Beth Shean is situated at the strategic junction of the Harod and Jordan Valleys. The fertility of the land and the abundance of water led the Jewish sages to say, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.” It is no surprise then that the site has been almost continuously settled from the Chalcolithic period to the present.

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