Qatzrin, Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi and Bonus Emeq Kedesh
Today was another excellent day in Israel! We started at Katzrin, an excavated and reconstructed town in the Golan Heights and Galilee Region. It was awesome experiencing what life was like in the time of Jesus. We dressed in first-century clothing, made bread from wheat grains and feasted on our pita with fresh goat cheese, olives, and fresh olive oil with hyssop and sesame seeds – such a great taste! We gathered in a stone home with a thatched roof to hear great cultural and Biblical teaching. It was so easy to envision the group of friends lowering their friend through the roof to get him to Jesus for healing! How shocked the Pharisees in the room must have been to see this Jesus heal, forgive, and reveal himself as the Messiah.
Katzrin (cultural experience)
Ancient Katzrin is a restored Byzantine period village in the central Golan area. This unique archaeological park provides a complete picture of the everyday life in a typical Jewish village at these times, also known as the Talmudic period. The park is located near the modern city of Katzrin - the main Jewish city of the Golan.
Next, we stopped at Dan, formerly called Laish until the Danites took the easy route and conquered these people to take their land instead of going to where God intended. How tempting it is for us to take the easy route in life, but the results are never what we want when we leave God out of the plan. Excavations have revealed so much about the hearts of the people who lived here – it’s crazy! What Jew builds a temple facing the wrong way, violating what God says is best? And Oh! The people who just followed along…
On the northern frontier of the kingdom, Dan was particularly well fortified. This gatehouse was built in the ninth century BCE, probably by Ahab, and is part of a series of gateways discovered.
In my mind, our third stop, Caesarea Philippi, would reveal a God-fearing community and Jesus’ footprints. Heck no! It was Vegas debauchery on steroids! Jesus took his disciples to the pit! But you know, people in the pit NEED JESUS!
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.
As we drove back to the hotel on the road to Damascus, our guide artfully recounted story after story we have read in our Bibles, bringing this well-worn path to life. Seeing Syria and Lebanon across the valley, knowing God’s heart for all people, I struggled to reconcile my pre-conceived notions with the reality of this part of the world; the Golan Heights are lush and gorgeous and Israelis have worked hard to make it a productive part of their country and the Jordan river is so tiny for such an important place in history. God is great, and I will never again read my Bible with the same eyes.
Written by Peggy Haskins
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