Israel, Jordan Study Tour with Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Jan 2-12, 2019

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You are the light of the world

To wake up with a view of the Sea of Galilee is an amazing experience. Today when we woke up early to begin our adventures you could still see the lights of Tiberias across Galilee, lighting up the hill. I was quickly reminded of Jesus words in his sermon on the mount where he said. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus words hit especially hard when you are in the land.

Our first site this morning was an hour north at Tel Dan. The rains were coming down hard, and the headwaters of the Jordan river were rushing through the city of Dan joining the fresh spring water from Mount Hermon’s melted snow. It was amazing to see the Oldest Arch in the world that has been named the Abrahamic Gate, as many believe Abraham would have come through this town. This was also the location that Abraham and his men would have come to in order to rescue Lot. Even more exciting than this however was the discovery of the David Stella. Next we got to experience Dr. Greer’s favorite dig site of Tel Dan. It was here that he greatly expounded upon the structure of the tell, as well as his challenge from the book of Amos where the prophet confronted the people. I too was challenged by the question of whether or not our worship is pleasing to him, or if there are areas of justice that I need to step into.

Tel Dan

On the northern frontier of the kingdom, Dan was particularly well fortified. This gatehouse was built in the ninth century, probably by Ahab, and is part of a series of gateways discovered.

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After Dan was Caesarea Philippi, also in the north and also raining in sheets. This is where Jesus would have taken his disciples and asked them. “Who do you say that I am?” A powerful lordship question in a city that was devoted to the worship of Pan.

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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From there we made our way south to Hazor, Capernaum, and Magdala.

At Hazor the rains began to lighten, and we got to see a late bronze age city. Most notably at this location was the structure of a common style home. It was exciting to see how people would have lived in this time period, but it was more exciting when we went to Capernaum after lunch and got to see what is believed to be the home of Peters Mother in law, and probably the first home of a Christian House Church in the first century AD. This home was marked with Christian symbols dating to the first century AD. It was also exciting to be in the town where Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law as well as the man with the crippled hand and more.

From Capernaum we headed south on the Western coast of the Sea of Galilee to Magdala. A site that was found in 2006 when construction was happening at this location. During construction a first century Synagogue was found in this home town of Mary Magdala. This is the only synagogue in the region that is completely 1st century style as it was deconstructed prior to Ad 67. The most remarkable thing was this was mostly likely a place where Jesus would have stood and taught. It was a great place to wrap up the day, and we did so with a time of prayer spent here at Magdala.

Capernaum

Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry: “Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum” (Matt 4:13).

Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen living in the village. Matthew the tax collector also dwelt here.

Capernaum is one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith.

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Written by Max Garter

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Some pictures of our group tour of Israel. #grtsisrael

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