Shabbat Shalom from Israel
Another amazing day
We started with a good climb/hike up (or ride up the back) of Mt. Arbel.
It was green and full of flowers as we climbed in the cool of the morning to the Top with an amazing view over the Sea of Galilee and looking down on many of the places where Jesus frequented in his ministry.
From here, the songs that “He is the God of the hills and valleys and we are not alone” Comes alive. I lift my heart unto the Hills where does my help come from The Maker of heaven and earth.
Josh taught here on the parable of the sower and the rich, fertile soil in the valleys below and the hard rocky, pasture land on the higher ground. Some of the ground receives and the crop grows and multiplies and other ground does not receive the seed and the crop struggles and fails. We each took time here to reflect on God and what words he had for us and praised Him as a group before we moved on.
Mount Arbel (Hebrew: הר ארבל, Har Arbel) is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias in Israel, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue. Mt. Arbel sits across from Mount Nitai; their cliffs were created as a result of the Jordan Rift Valley and the geological faults that produced the valleys.
The sea/lakeside village and remaining original synagogue of Magdala. It was buried under a shallow layer of sand – the onsite guide took us through the site and showed us the Magdala Stone, a stone carved by people who had seen the Temple and likely a good, small scale version of what it had looked like. The stone was found in the Synagogue, the partially tiled floors still remain too. Coins found here also were dated to the day and time of Jesus’. It is likely that Jesus taught in this synagogue and walked these streets of this small, but prosperous fishing village.
Magdala is a place that talks to about women in the Bible, Mary Magdala and others and Jesus bringing and giving dignity to women.
The guide talked about Jesus wanting to encounter us, to be found by us, and to have a relationship with us. Be willing and available to God to go deeper, that is why we all came to this place/Israel, but is also a lasting call to our everyday lives at home.
Before moving on to our third site for the day, we had lunch at a Saint Peter’s Fish restaurant. It was great (and fun) and gave us a taste (literally) of the food of the Sea of Galilee!
Magdala, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, was a prosperous fishing village at the time Jesus was active in this region. The ruins of this Roman village is now enclosed within a wall. The archaeologists uncovered the remains of the village dating from the time of Jesus, and a Byzantine monastery. A mosaic floor featuring a fisherman's boat was found at the place.
Capernum, another important and larger seaside and synagogue town of Jesus’ day. Ornately carved stones with rich Jewish symbols were once at the top along the outside of the temple. The synagogue was leveled by an earthquake in 747 AD. This was Jesus’ adopted home town and the hub for his ministry. It is likely that he taught often in the synagogue. Peter lived here too. A Roman Centurion stationed here came to Jesus here to improbably ask, via Jewish Elders, for Him to save the life of his sick slave. The Centurion showed great faith in who Jesus’ is and in His power and said “just say the word and my servant will be healed”. Jesus commended him to the crowd saying “I say to you, not even in all of Israel have I found such great faith”.
Jesus also was asked to pay the temple tax. To pay the tax, he told Peter go catch a fish, take the coin and pay the tax. Peter did this and paid the tax. This miracle showed Jesus’ divine power, divine wisdom, and divine knowledge for this impossible to happen. It also showed that though He was “exempt” from the Temple tax that He still paid the tax so as not to offend people or to undermine the authority. We are no longer citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven and though still in the world, as believers, we need to respect authority when it does not conflict with the God’s truth and so as to win over and not needlessly offend those around us.
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.
Mount of Beatitudes – Josh started speaking to us on the hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee not far from Magdala and Capernaum, as he talked, suddenly “Jesus” appeared and spoke to us His longest recorded teaching, word for word, Matthew 5, 6, & 7. We were amazed at His teaching, just like the original crowds as He spoke “as one having authority”. There is so much here truth that He spoke and taught us here. Instructions for us to living in His higher and holier ways. I just need to read this over and over and over – so, so much. I praise God for His wisdom and truth shared so directly to and for us by the author and perfecter of our faith.
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.
Tabgha – Lesson: Admit your failure, surrender, give up doing it my way and overcome your failure and struggle through Him by His great grace and provision.
After a long, unproductive night, Jesus told the disciples where they could lower their nets one more time and have an abundant catch. They did and He did and he invited them to the breakfast that He had prepared.
He is the God of fresh starts by His great grace and mercy in our lives.
Two miles west of Capernaum is what Josephus referred to as the “well of Capernaum.” Undoubtedly a popular fishing spot of the locals because of its famous “seven springs,” Heptapegon (today the name has been corrupted to Tabgha) is the traditional location for several episodes in Jesus’ ministry.