Israel Study Tour with Covenant Life Church

March 13-23, 2023

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Day 05 - Galilee: Katzrin, Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi

Today we found out early that we were not going to have as many of stops as yesterday. Just as we found that out the weather told us it wasn’t going to be as nice as it was yesterday, either. From our first stop until our last the rain decided it wanted to play musical chairs on our stops. When we got off the bus, it rained, when we got on the bus it stopped. It did give us two nice 20-minute breaks.  

At our first stop we had fun at a little spot where we dressed in outfits from Biblical times, learned how to make olive oil, got invited into an ancient house, and then had the opportunity to make pita bread. We had a guide for this for our first stop named Hefftiva who had the energy, spunk, and whit of Nala from Lion King. She remained in character pretending we were back in time about 2,000 years ago. As we walked to her house, we passed bright yellow mustard flowers and after picking a few, she gave some to a few people to eat. It was mustard plant, and if you ate the top of it, the taste was strong like Dijon.

Inside of the house we all crammed in - it was small! Eggs inside of a carton have more room than we did. We looked like Shaquille O’Neal driving an old Chevy Sprint hatchback – too much body for that little bitty space. Pastor Marshall made Mark 2:1 come to life in his teaching on the paralyzed man who had four companions. Understanding how the roofs were made then and now visualizing the roof getting ripped apart above this crowded room as Jesus taught. WOW! We felt the experience of this house by being crammed in together. “Imagine the roof being peeled apart above us,” Marshall said as he then taught the order of how the story unfolded. The friends were addressed first, then the lame man, then the religious leaders. Do we have friends that need to be at the feet of Jesus? What are you doing to get them there? Do you have invaluable friends in your life that keep you at the feet of Jesus and walk with you when you cannot stand in life? Don’t wait for Jesus to come out, push your way in. Jeff led us in a beautiful time of prayer for our lost friends that need Christ.

After making some pita bread and eating it with delicious date honey and marvelous olive oil, we stopped by oil factory. We were shown six different olive oil flavors and oil cosmetics. Our biggest hope at this point, (outside of the hope for no rain tomorrow) is that luggage weigh ins at the airport will accommodate the “needed items” that are supposedly for people back home. If you don’t get something when we get back…. Just saying.

On our way to our next site, we passed by the most beautiful of fields. Allow your imagination to wander as you take in more of that bright yellow mustard flowers along with luscious green grass. It was as if the green and yellow colors were holding hands. The green and yellow mix of beauty continued for miles – it would have been a Packers fan delight. The colors ran up hills and nestled themselves upon the highest crest of every mountain, oh we were surrounded again by the many mountains!

We arrived at our next site which is where the Tribe of Dan would have been given the land to live. We walked through the forest, over bridges, to the top of where the Dan River flows. Pastor Bob took us to page 31 and map 6 as he taught us in this upper Jordan River Valley. It’s a lush area and susceptible to attack from North. Assyria and the Philistines would have wanted it. He took us to Judges 18:5-27 and 1 Kings 12:25-30 - a few major takeaways here.

The Tribe of Dan was not content with the land God has designated for them, so they set out to find their own. Is it wise to reject what God is giving you in pursuit of something else? Not to mention, they took an idol with them! Is this an episode of ESPN’s C’mon Man! They were one of the most idolatrous tribes of Israel. Then you get Rehoboam coming into kingship and he decided to not take the advice of the elders, but of his peers and made life harder on the people. The kingdom divides northern and South. Israel and Judah. Wondering, would people be more devoted to him or to God. The thought was we need an idol to keep people here. Jeroboam thinks it would be good to build a large golden idol here in Dan like the pagans they were supposed to drive out! Oh, he is certainly on C’mon Man at #1! They were guilty of the sin of Jeroboam. Sometimes we have the spirit of Dan as we travel to other places and churches in pursuit of “something better" because of discontentment. Too many people in today’s church are chasing the next better church with a consumer’s mentality like a “Black Friday” special. Notice, if you will, that in the tribes listed in Revelation 7, Dan is not there! ☹ Before you ask where you want to go, ask where does God want you to be.

Before leaving this mountain, we also seen the entrance gate to Dan from the time of the Israelite Kingdom; the place that was set up for Jeroboam’s pagan worship; and an exterior archway that dates back to the Bronze age which is about 1700 before Christ. Take a look at the pictures to get an idea.

From there we went to our final place for the day that also is a main river source. Pastor Bob taught here as well…. The guy is retired, don’t feel bad that Marshall has him doing all the hard teachings! Marshall wants him to “earn his keep.” We will never look at Matthew 16:13 the same for the rest of our lives!!!!

We are at Caesarea Philippi, where the worship of Bail was replaced with Greek god Pan. This place is the gate to underworld, where the gods supposedly lived. Pan was supposed to be the god of shepherds and was born in this cave. Herod the Great made a temple to Augustus. Herod Philip was given this area and he dedicated it to Caesar. Pandemonium- a great festival with wicked sexual encounters was taking place publicly, along with… well in case a kid reads this, let’s just say it was bad. But again, they also believed that this place was the gate of hell. Now with that in mind, you have to understand that Jesus brought his disciples here. You already know Peter asked, “Why here Jesus!” And we can only imagine that Thomas couldn’t believe that they were there either. Matthew 16:13: "Who do people say I am? Everyone will answer this question, “Who do you say I am?”

Jesus is Sovereign over all things. He is the living God. I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it! This place will not overcome it! We aren’t going to run away from it, we will run to it. We will storm the gates! Jesus trusts us with His story and pushing the Kingdom forward. Jesus embarks the gates of hell first. Suffering comes before glory. Mark 8:27, 31-38 forfeit soul. Remember, there have always been false gods, and we will defeat them in Christ as we bring God’s Shalom in the way we live in this upside-down Kingdom. Questions 1) who is God to you? 2) what does it mean to deny self? 3) what does it mean to follow Christ? Until next time – Peace and Blessings!

Leroy Childress

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