Israel Study Tour with Grace Central Coast

Oct 28 - Nov 9, 2019

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Stark contrast

Our day began early as we boarded a boat at a pier very near to our hotel. Thankfully the smooth water and sunshine made for pleasant sailing as we crossed the Sea of Galilee. Ken led us in a devotional reading of Matthew 14:22-33. We imagined what it may have been like for the disciples to fearfully strain at the oars in a violent storm, and then see Jesus walking on water toward them! After some quiet personal devotional time, we made our way to a pier and museum that housed a remarkable 2000 year old wooden boat that has been rescued from the mud of the Galilee. We heard how the boat was carefully extracted and preserved for viewing in the museum. I appreciated seeing the size and shape of the boat as it gave me context and further understanding of the many stories in the Bible that feature Galilean fishing boats.

We left the sea and traveled by bus to what seemed to be a secluded area. Our team hiked in the hot sun until we came to a cliff overlook and saw a magnificent sight. We marveled at the ruins of one of the largest Decapolsis cities, Bet She-an. We recognized the stark contrast between the small and simple Jewish villages like Corazin and this sprawling Roman city that once housed up to 80,000 people during the time of Jesus.

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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Our next stop was Herod’s Pool, a lovely park that featured a refreshing pool with hundreds of little fish that nibble at your toes. While Ron laughed as the fish tickled his feet, I kept moving because I could not get use to their little nibbles. It felt sort of like a very mild electrical charge.

 Before returning to our hotel, we made a stop on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. As we watched the sun set, we listened to the story of how Jesus freed the man of demon possession in this general area. I thank the Lord for the freedom he has given to those who put their trust in Him.

Cyndie Hamley

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