Israel Study Tour with Joshua Wilderness Institute

Apr 9-21, 2016

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From Sea to Shining Sea

Shabbat Shalom! Today has been a great day in the land of the bible. It was a slower day than what we’ve had, which was really nice since we’ve all been in need of a little down time.

The morning started out with a beautiful boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We were blessed with an amazing time of devos while sitting right in the middle of the sea that Jesus walked on. Alyssa, one of our staff, read the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out of the boat in bold faith. She challenged us and asked us if we are asking God for bold things as Peter asked Jesus to call him to Himself, and if we are asking for bold things, do we believe Jesus can do it? She also asked us to ask ourselves what is our boat? What are we holding on to for safety or comfort, unwilling to step out in faith? She also pointed out that in the story, when Peter begins to sink, Jesus is right there to pull him back up and tenderly speak truth into him. Sometimes we may think that Jesus is far away from us, but He really is right there to immediately pull us up. Our time on the boat was finished with a Joshua tradition of dancing all the rest of the way to Tiberias. We had a crazy good time of laughter and joy.

Our first land site was called Beth She’an, and at that site we got to see the ruins of a Roman city, which in its time was magnificent. Even the ruins were magnificent. We learned about the Romans’ way of life, and the luxuries they enjoyed. They had paved streets, many shops, a market, a gym, a bathhouse with three different stations, flowing water in the public bathroom, pools of water just for decoration, and a theater where free shows were regularly held. It was very much a “wow” thing to see, and we enjoyed walking through its remains.

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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Our next site wasn’t exactly a site. We went to the spring of Harod and talked about the story of Gideon and how God uses everyone to achieve His purposes, even if they’re not the cream of the crop. The story also shows God’s great power, as He uses a very small number of men to defeat a large army. Nothing is impossible for God. After our talk about Gideon, we had lunch at the spring, and then we got a couple hours of free time to swim in the beautiful pools there or to just sit and relax and have our feet nibbled on by fishes. (It was the weirdest experience ever.)

Our final site for the day was the city of Susita which is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, very near to where we are currently staying. Susita, at the time of Jesus, was a pagan city. We read the story of Jesus casting out a demon from a man in that area, which is the first time that Jesus went to that region. The people there weren’t at all receptive to Him and were terrified by His power, so they begged Him to leave them. The man, whom Jesus had healed, begged Jesus to let him come with Him, but Jesus told him to stay and tell others what God had done for him. And it says that he did exactly that. Later on, we see that Jesus goes back to this place for a second time, but this time 4,000 people come to hear Him! God used the testimony of one man to bring so many to a place where they wanted to hear the words of Jesus. We were challenged by these two questions: who do you say that Jesus is? And, if you say that He is God, are you willing to live that out? The more lessons we hear here, the more we understand that God saving us is not all about us. We have been called to call others.

Our final destination for the day was back at the place we are staying. Some of us got baptized! It was such a joyous time, and after each person was baptized we would gather around them and pray for them. Many happy tears were shed, and there was an intoxicating feeling of joy throughout our group. We give God the glory and thank Him for the work He is doing in every heart here.

We hope that everyone back home is enjoying hearing about what we are up to.

Because it is nighttime here, layla tov!

Karis and Serena

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Cheering along as our friends are baptized in the Sea of Galilee. #jwiIsrael16 (photo cred @jeffl7)

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Singing in a Roman theater with these people! ❤️🇮🇱 Shabbat shalom! #jwiisrael16

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"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods." Thomas Paine Baptism is a strange and wonderful ritual for Christians, especially when done out in the open for all to see. It represents a dying to our old flesh, (being submerged) then being reborn (being lifted up out of the water) as a new person; one who is committing to serve God with their whole life. Tonight was a beautiful evening, watching many of the college students we are traveling with be baptized in the Sea of Galilee. Indeed, heaven does know how to put a proper price upon its goods.

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• DAY 5 • This is my pause sister Hayley. We visited the border of Syria and Israel in Golan Heights today. Israel gained this area of land in their 6 Day War, and it was amazing to get to visit and see it for myself. It helped me gain perspective and understand what's going on in the Middle East from a personal experience. This is kind of random, but there was a really good coffee shop up there, and we got cappuccinos. ☕️ #jwiisrael16 #sistersister

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Rich teaching at Susita on the power of a changed life. Your story matters, and can be used right where you are. #jwiIsrael16

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"I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Rich teaching on Gideon, the "mighty warrior" at the Springs of Harod. God can, and will, use any of to accomplish his purposes. #jwiIsrael16

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At Bet Shean, leaning about the ancient Jewish city and the (more) modernized Greek Skitopolis. #jwiIsrael16

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...and then we DANCE!!! #jwiIsrael16

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Alyssa sharing on a boat in the Sea of Galilee. "Immediately, Jesus..." Even when we can only see our crisis, Jesus is immediate, there, and sees us in our needs. #jwiIsrael16

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