We are living stones
It’s our first full day on the tour and we were up early and ready to go. Pastor Bill Houck shared a devotion on the bus from 1 John 2:6. We were encouraged to walk as Jesus walked and to bring glory to our loving Heavenly Father. It’s wonderful having pastors and leaders who are able to share from God’s Word on the trip.
As we were driving to our first destination of the day, Miriam shared a lot of information with us. There is so much to take in!
- Driving through Tel Aviv, Tel (hill) Aviv (spring), which means “hill of spring,” we learned about Eliezer Ben Yehuda (Judah), the inventor of modern Hebrew spoken in Israel today. There is a Ben Yehuda Street here in Tel Aviv. And apparently there is a street named after Ben Yehuda in most major Israeli cities!
- Miriam also told about Theodor Hertzel, Israel’s modern founding father, who was a Jewish journalist in Vienna in the late 1800s. He was assigned to cover the trial of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish captain in the French army who was wrongly accused of treason in France. During this shameful and anti-Semitic “affair,” something grew in Hertzel’s heart and he began to feel strongly that the Jewish people needed a homeland. Thus began the Zionists’ road to the modern land of Israel.
- It is only a 45-minute drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is often a deterrent to people who live in Tel Aviv wanting to go visit people or family in Jerusalem. Cars are generally smaller in Israel and are still considered a luxury.
- Herzliya is Israel’s tech center. Tech is Israel’s number one export. It used to be oranges, then diamonds, now it’s technology. Israel has developed a lot of cell phone apps.
The road we were on today driving to Caesarea Maritime is the ancient “Way of the Sea” or the Via Maris. 30,000 people live in Caesarea Maritime and it is also an Israeli national park. The theater here was originally buried under sand dunes. Archeologist added black lines to show where the original theater ends and the replacement begins.
Once we sat in the theater, Jim Showers shared devotions from Acts 10. Built from dead memorial stones, this city was a major city for commerce and entertainment. Caesarea was the city of Cornelius a centurion (which means captain of 100). He feared God. He was a righteous man but he lacked the knowledge of Jesus. God gave him vision was to call for Simon Peter. Meanwhile as we learned yesterday in Jaffa, Peter has a vision of the sheet and the unclean animals. While Peter, who kept kosher, was processing this, the servants of Cornelius arrived to take Peter to Caesarea to talk with Cornelius and his family. Peter goes, preaches, and the Gentiles are saved! We are living stones to reality of the gospel reaching out from Israel to the entire world.
Herod built this theatre but marble was not used. The marble we saw was added by the Byzantines. The area where Herod’s palace was used to be a parking lot until it was excavated. It was possibly the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (79 AD) that destroyed much of the amphitheater here. We also learned that the Apostle Paul was possibly imprisoned here.
As we walked the ground we saw that the two areas within the palace - the part closest to the water was the private residence. The section behind it was the administrative area. Miriam told us about the We learned about the Frumentarii who were officials of the Roman Empire who also acted as the secret service of the Roman Empire. They were kind of like the CIA of the Romans.
Chariot Races were held in Caesarea. Gladiators also fought here/ Jewish people were allowed to attend so they could possibly save lives. We saw some Crusader ruins that were being excavated. A short drive took us to the Roman Aqueduct.
While we were traveling to Mt. Carmel, Miriam pointed out the range of Mt. Carmel. The Jewish National Fund is planting of trees there.
We learned about the Druze and how they are responsible for the olive trees in the park. Miriam told the group about the difference between the Druze and traditional Islam. The Druze believe in reincarnation Druze women have more freedom than traditional Muslims. Druze young men serve in the Israeli Defense Force. We stopped for lunch and had falafel and schnitzel at a Druze restaurant.
After lunch we drove to Mt. Carmel and the site of the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. I shared a devotion from 1 Kings18. Looking at that contest between the 450 prophets of Baal (and 400 prophets of Asherah), it is so interesting to remember that after the tremendous victory God gave to Elijah, a threat from Jezebel caused the man of God to crash. He ran all the way to Beersheba. He was depressed, which always happens after a major spiritual victory we must watch out for the crash
We saw down to the brook Kishon where the false prophets were killed. We also saw Mt. Moray (Gideon) and looked across to Nazareth.
A “Tel” is formed from a city being built upon a previous city. We learned as we stood at Tel Megiddo there are 20 different cities on top of each other. In the excavation of this Tel in the 1930’s they believe they found Solomon’s stables.
The first recorded battle in human history happened at Megiddo and was recorded on the walls of Karnak Temple Complex in Egypt.
Jim shared a devotion from the top of Tel Megiddo. God gave prophetic scripture to show us where we are this area is Har (Hill) of Megiddo traditionally known as Armageddon. Jesus will not return to kill the Jewish People, but to save them. Armageddon is a prelude to the greatest period for the Jewish people in the future.
Jim read from Revelation about the military campaign identified as Armageddon. Satan will try to destroy the Jewish people in order to beat God by attempting to stop Jesus from coming. Revelation 19 tells of the physical return of Jesus. He read from Zechariah 12:8-9 - why is God doing this? Joel 3:2 nations will be judged because of their treatment of the Jewish Nation. Jesus is returning to protect and defend the Jewish People! Jim then shared about the Millennial Kingdom from Zechariah 8:23. Miriam then showed us an excavated Canaanite “high place” from the 30’s.
On our way to the water system we saw a beautiful rainbow in the clouds. We also saw a grain silo, a manger - not of wood but of stone. Then we walked down the 180 steps to the water system.
On the ride to Galilee, Miriam told us about Jezebel and Naboth’s vineyard, “Hast thou killed and also taken possession” which Elijah said to Arab after he stole his vineyard. This is a common phrase in Jewish culture today. Drove through Bet She’an where Saul and Jonathan were killed and hung in trees
The Mountains of Gilead are in the country of Jordan. This is where Elijah was from. We learned the Jordan River is the border between Israel and Jordan. We checked in around 5 to the Ramot Resort overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Dinner was waiting for everyone at 7. The food was fabulous, as was the beautiful sunset over the Sea of Galilee.