Israel-in-Depth with Rod VanSolkema

Jun 28 - Jul 10, 2019

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Admiration, gratefulness and awe


Our day was filled with history lessons, ones brought to life in a way that only sinking your hands into the sands of Israel could do.

We made it to Harod the Greats elaborate palace, theatre, harbor and arena. Piece by piece he created this beautiful coastal paradise booming with business trying to solidify and magnify his standing in honor of Caesar. Though Harod built it for his worship, God used it for His glory! This huge harbor was now a hub for followers of the way to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth! We ended Caesarea with a walk through the arena where our brothers and sisters, before us, were forced to lay down their lives because they continued to cling to the promise and comfort of their faith. It was such a heavy walk. But one that was also defined with admiration, gratefulness and awe. A reminder that our “cloud of witnesses” is indeed our “crowd” cheering us on to press forward, don’t be discouraged and keep moving. Challenging us to GET OFF THE STANDS, step out of this spectator sport that we have created church to be and move into action. Think of those before us with a grateful heart knowing we are not alone. Remember that the blood of the martyrs is the seed for our growth!

Caesarea Maritima

The city and harbor were built under Herod the Great during c. 22–10 BC near the site of a former Phoenician naval station known as Stratonos pyrgos (Στράτωνος πύργος).[2] It later became the provincial capital of Roman Judea, Roman Syria Palaestina and Byzantine Palaestina Prima provinces. The city was populated throughout the 1st to 6th centuries CE and became an important early center of Christianity during the Byzantine period, but was mostly abandoned following the Muslim conquest of 640. It was re-fortified by the Crusaders, and finally slighted by the Mamluks in 1265.

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2 . Mt. Carmel

Our second stop of the day was Mt. Carmel…THE Mt. Carmel! Elisha, Elijah, the battle and victory over Baal. This is a place where Israelites once again drifted from God. They became indifferent. But when Elijah challenged and taunted the priests of Baal, OUR GOD came down in an all consuming fire! God came down and snuffed out Baal and proves on this mountain, once again, that He is THE God and that He still remains faithful to His bride, Israel. He continues to remain committed to the vows they made together. What an amazing view filled with rocks, grasses, and beautiful Olive trees. The climb was challenging but the fruit we received at the top amidst the vertical climb filled and consumed us. This fruit spurred us on for the next leg of our journey.

Mt. Carmel

Biblically, Mt. Carmel is referenced most often as a symbol of beauty and fertility. To be given the “splendor of Carmel” was to be blessed indeed (Isa 35:2). Solomon praised his beloved: “your head crowns you like Mount Carmel” (Song 7:5). But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4).

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3. City of Magdala

This was not just our first time seeing the City of Magdala that was found only 12in beneath the sand. But it was Rod and Libbys first time as well. Yet they seamlessly led us through the synagogue where my Jesus taught. The same town where Mary Magdalene grew up. What a powerful moment to just drink in wisdom from our Rabbi in the same place so many drank in the teaching of THE Rabbi.

4. Tabga, on the Sea of Galilee

Let me bring this final stop to life for you. We walk in silence down a path leading us right to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Our Rabbi is exploding in excitement to share this very spot with his flock. Socks come off…shoes come off! He stands in the water and brings this place to life. This shore is where Jesus called his disciples! He called them to be fishers of men. He calmed the sea. He walked on water! The weight of walking where Jesus walked, while learning from our Rabbi standing on the shoulders of the disciples who have gone before us was breathtaking. We are learning and breathing and walking Jesus’ ministry. We are following in the ancient paths of Jesus. We have learned so much and reflected on so much. We have challenged our marriages by looking to Jesus and His relationships. We have deciphered loving our spouse vs. cherishing our spouse; just as Christ loves and cherishes us! So as we close out day 5 along the coast of the Sea of Galilee we stood in awe of this beautiful, rugged, harsh, fertile, arid land, hand-picked by God and we become forever changed day by day.


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.

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Featured Upcoming Tour

GTI Signature Tour: Israel & Jordan
Septemer 5-17, 2020

Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.

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