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Israel Study Tour with The Church at Rocky Peak

March 12-23, 2023

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Day 05 - Galilee : Mount of Beatitudes, Mount Bental, Caesarea Philippi, Tel Dan, Jordan River

We began our day with worship along the Sea of Galilee singing praises and also praying for Pastor Michael, who had been experiencing the onset of a cold-cough and needed some well deserved rest.

We quickly hopped on the bus with our faithful tour guide, Ronen, who began explaining some of the traditions of Shabbat and the Kosher Laws. Today's breakfast had no omelets, meat, or coffee and consisted mostly of dairy items. In fact Kosher meals do not allow dairy and meats to be served together. In Israel, hospitality is very important. There are some who may not practice Kosher Law, but will have Kosher kitchens out of respect for those who do practice.

There was much anticipation as we headed towards the area where Jesus went up a mountain side to start his teaching. We were dropped off at the base Mount of Beatitudes where we were asked to exit quickly off the bus and follow. We were being lead into a significant climb trusting and following with a lot of huffing and puffing along the trail. On arrival Pastor Joel discussed the main message of Jesus which can be found in Matthew chapters 5-7 and Philippians 2. Jesus gave a message that was so clear and simple to understand. Yet, it is one of the hardest for us to achieve as Christian’s on a daily basis; to value others above yourself at all times and to strive towards a mindset like Jesus'.

Pastor Joel asked, Are we truly living a blessed life to serve others? Are we looking for ways to practice to serve and take the challenge? I believe as Christians this is one of the hardest things we are asked by God to do.

We then drove though Hula Valley which used to be a huge swamp until it was turned into a lush agricultural area. One of the many different types of micro-climates inside of Israel.

Then onto Tel Dan, one of the most visited areas by the locals. The National Park was filed with streams of water flowing through paths and trails  lined with trees. One of the most beautiful and peaceful locations filled with history. Unfortunately, this history is filled with disobedience, idol worship and paganism, none of which honored God.

Israel is also uncovering more evidence of the past through archaeological finds. A new gate known as “The Gate of Abraham”, from the time of Solomon was the most resent find in that area. There’s so much history being uncovered, so upon every visit to Israel you may see something new.

Caesarea Philipp - The pagan community just 2 days walk from Capernaum  is where Jesus asked Peter, "Who do they say I am?" and, "Who do you say I am?"

Back on the bus, we then continued to drive along the border of Lebanon and Syria seen across the hill on our way to Golan Heights. The day started to change and with clouds encircling us as we reached our destination. With a limited view, we tried to imagine the grand vision on that mountain top as we listened intently to Ronen's stories of the past and their connection to the area. We learned a great deal about the Syrian-Israeli “Ramadan” war in 1973 fought in Golan Heights. The Israelites won and learned a valuable lesson to never let one's guard down, especially in trying times.

The weather has given us only a couple of challenges in our itinerary. When we arrived at the Jordan River eager to be baptized it was closed without explanation. Instead, we headed back to our hotel to be baptized in the Sea of Galilee. The disappointment was felt among us all, but we were quickly reminded that Jesus had walked on the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan river flows into the Sea of Galilee (so it’s the exact same water!) As the baptisms began we looked to the sky and experienced the most beautiful sunset as the sun rays pierced through the clouds into the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The first thought was Emmanuel “God is with us”, no matter where we are chosen to baptized.

By Monica Welsh


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