On the road to Jerusalem
It was a long day, filled with several sites, lots of driving, and our first night in Jerusalem. We are tired and in bed, but happy as clams. This trip just keeps getting better.
In the beginning of our day we headed to Beth She’an and because we are here with GTI, we got an exclusive entrance through the back, which allowed us to hike through an area most people don’t get to see. We read in 1 Samuel 31, the battle where Saul ends up dying. As we were reading we were looking at the city, mountain and land where all of that happened. They found part of the wall where is body would have been. Steve reminded us that potential and promise means nothing without faithfulness. Saul with so much promise and potential, lacked faithfulness. What does it look like stay tough, remain faithful, and have resilient faith? After that we continued to hike and got to walk through a beautiful and intricately built Roman city. It was incredible.
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.
After that we traveled to Mt. Carmel and got to look out into all of Israel, from the Mediterranean to Jordan. We read in 1 Kings 18:20-49 that this is where Elijah showed the people the power of God and the last of power that Bal has. It was incredible to be at the site where this happened, where God’s power was shown and proven.
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).
Our last stop before heading to Jerusalem was Caesarea Maritima. This was a place and city built by Herod. He built the most amazing things. We got to walk through the amphitheater, down by the water where they lived, saw their swimming pool, where their court house was, and where they raced horses. I was crazy to read scripture and be reminded that Paul lived here for two years. He walked these streets and started moving the gospel away from Jerusalem. One extremely amazing discovery was that they found a stone with an inscription that read, Pontius Pilate. This was a big deal because before this there was no proof that he was actually a living person. This proves that he really did live and actually lived in 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). 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.
We are still in awe of what we are all seeing. We don’t want the trip to end. Thanking God for every second we get with Him, in this place, and with these people. Although we know that the same God who dwells here, swells in Silicon Valley and we can’t wait to bring the passion this place has brought us back home with us! We love you all and miss you dearly!
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GTI Signature Tour: Israel & Jordan Study Tour
SEP 3-15, 2022
Experience Israel and Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.
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