Israel Study Tour with The Friends of Israel

October 16-26, 2015

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Touring Day Two

In the morning we went north to the Lebanese border. Our bus drove up and up and up and up and finally when I didn’t think it could go up any further, it went up yet another mountain. Our hotel is located well below sea level and we had to travel up several thousand feet to reach the Kibbutz Misgav Am. There a spokesman told us of the trials and hardships he and the Kibbutz have living on the border of Lebanon. He told us that you must have a certain frame of mind living there. You cannot live in fear because it will take over your life. They own that land and they are not leaving. The people farm off the land, conduct presentations to tourist, and house local college students for income. The resilience of the Jewish people overwhelms me. “We have waited 2,000 years to come back to this land. We are not giving it up.” Beautiful.

From there we went to Caesarea Philippi. Jim Showers shared from Matthew 16 where Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jim asked us why we thought Jesus took His disciples to a pagan place such as Caesarea Philippi. It was because it was a beautiful and quiet place to get away to teach them without the crowds. And it is beautiful. The headwaters of the Jordan river is there and the bubbling spring is so serene.

Caesarea Philippi

This abundant water supply has made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship. Numerous temples were built at this city in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

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I might add that all of this happened before lunch! We traveled to the Golan Heights and looked at the Syrian border. Miriam, (our fabulous guide that knows ALL THE THINGS) tried to explain the situation in Syria and how it will affect the Israel but she was having a hard time because so much is in the air. Thankfully Israel has the highest view in the Golan Heights which gives them good security advantage.

After a quick bite of falafel we traveled to Gamala, the Masada of the north. Gamla is a town that was set on the side of a mountain and was defeated by the Romans. Many fought until the end and jumped to their death so they would not be captured by the enemy.

Gamla

Known sometimes as the “Masada of the North,” Gamla is most famous for its strong defense against the Romans in the Jewish Revolt in AD 66. The site is bordered on all sides by deep wadis of the Golan Heights and is approachable by only one footpath from the northeast. The earliest settlement was in the Early Bronze Age and the site was reinhabited by returning exiles from Babylon. Herod the Great settled Jews here to populate his border cities.

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On to the Mount of the Beatitudes! Along the sea of Galilee there was a catholic church placed in the area believed to be where Jesus shared the Sermon on the Mount. I am thankful to the Catholic Church for preserving this area. However, it is hard to sit and reflect there because of all the gardens, fences, and buildings.

Mount of Beatitudes

The so-called “Sermon on the Mount” is recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6. The alleged discrepancy between Matthew’s version being on a hill and Luke’s being on a level place is easily reconciled with observation of many level places on the Galilean hillsides. Scripture gives no indication of the exact location of this event, but the Byzantines built a church to commemorate it at the bottom of the hill. Some of Napoleon’s men placed it on the nearby Arbel mountain.

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The last place of the evening was Decks where we had a beautiful 97 course meal (okay it only felt that way) served family style. There was fresh flat bread, crispy onions, fresh salmon from Norway, sweet potatoes and mushrooms, salad, bbq lamb, steak, chicken, french fries, and dessert (see, almost 97 courses!). We ended the night with fireworks and songs by the owner who expressed how much she loves The Friends of Israel and our tour for coming to Israel.

Like I said at the beginning, this day was overwhelming. Tomorrow we focus on Jesus’s ministry in the Galilee area. Another day filled with emotion and thankfulness awaits us!

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