Israel-in-Depth with Rod VanSolkema

Jun 28 - Jul 10, 2019

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Journey To Jerusalem

We made our way from the Kibbutz of Ein Gev which was home for the last three days on the sea of Galilee to the path that the Pilgrims would make every year to Jerusalem to make their sacrifice.

Our first stop was at the River Jordan. In the Bible the Jordan is mentioned 200 times. To the Hebrews the Jordan is a symbol of a barrier to be crossed, passed, leave the old to get to the new.

After 40 years in the desert the Israelites found themselves along these shores. This was the only thing separating them from the Promised Land.

We read Joshua 3 and Rod talked about how they had to trust in God and to take the first step.

What is holding us back? What is keeping us on this side of the shore?


A simple, yet powerful message.

Many in our group were baptized proclaiming that they would indeed leave what’s been holding them back behind and take that first step toward Him. It was a very powerful time and God’s presence was so evident as people rededicated themselves to His desires for them.

We continued our drive through the Rift Valley and stopped in an unassuming parking lot. We had a brief walk that ended at an overlook. All of us were stunned by what we saw. The remains of Bet She’an (also known as Nyssa Scythopolis)… A roman metropolis that reached its Golden Age in the 7th century.

The excavation uncovered such a large portion of the city, you could get a vivid image of what it once looked like. Pillars lining the streets, the roman road still intact, a theater, a healing place, temples to gods all over the town…

Rod reminded us that it is just what the Roman culture wanted… to be the center of attention… where everyone would want to be.

Many pilgrims may have stopped here because of its location along the path to Jerusalem. We imagined Jesus walking along the streets saying to His disciples “Wide is the path that leads to destruction… Narrow is the path that leads to life.” This town is seduction- it draws us in and away.

Beth Shean

Located 17 miles (27 km) south of the Sea of Galilee, Beth Shean is situated at the strategic junction of the Harod and Jordan Valleys. The fertility of the land and the abundance of water led the Jewish sages to say, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.” It is no surprise then that the site has been almost continuously settled from the Chalcolithic period to the present.

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As we drove on, we were warned that our next hike would be hard, and it would be hot (106 to be exact). We would be hiking the road to Jericho on the narrow path.

Just after Jesus’ baptism, he went to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. This may have been the area he wandered. Perhaps where he was tempted. As we walked in the heat, Rod challenged us to hike in silence and reflect on the fact that Jesus walked this road as he headed to Jerusalem and then ultimately to Calvary. Many people in our group called out scripture and it echoed into the canyon.

Jericho Road

Our final stop was in Jerusalem. We made it! What took us just hours took the Pilgrims several days.

We stopped at the Israel Biblical Museum. What waited for us was an almost exact replica of the city of Jerusalem during Jesus’ time. It was so eye opening to see this city in the way it once was.

We went inside and saw the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was fascinating enough to see them there but having been to Qumran just days before where they had been found, made the experience that much more powerful.

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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