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Israel Study Tour with Taft Avenue Community Church

September 12-23, 2022

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Day 06 - Galilee - Jerusalem: Beth Shean, Megiddo, Mt. Carmel, Caesarea Maritima

Shalom from Israel. 

We had another fantastic day full of Israel history (old and new), great vistas and focusing our minds on scripture in light of our surroundings.  

Our first stop today was entering Beth She’an from the backside. In this Tel, 19 levels of civilization have been identified. It is a very strategic location where the three major roads come.  Both the two North/South roads and the only one East/West road. As we hiked up we saw views of a large valley where King Saul and his armies fought and lost to the Philistines. The Philistines had pushed and taken much territory from the Mediterranean coast inland and now to the Jordan with King Saul and his sons' demise. The valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead would not stand for how their king even though dead was treated and took the bodies away. Seeing the distance between hills, plains and valleys really made the story come alive (1 Samuel 31).

As we went over the hill, we were all greatly “wowed” by our first view of the huge excavation site of Scythapolis.  This was the capital city of the 10 Decapolis Roman cities. Our modern cities today in many ways are based on the same design layout. Such elements as a North/South and East/West major crossroad as the center of city life, with a large marketplace, gymnasium (which served multiple purposes including a meeting area) and a theatre.

Our next Tel was Megiddo. Archeologists have identified 30 layers of civilizations here. Israel started excavation on this site since 1903. Again, it is a huge site and what we see now are ruins of a huge Roman city. The city has an extremely efficient water system to bring water everywhere needed. Most of the group did the stair climb and descent to see the huge cistern. Perhaps to us as Christians the most important site was outside Megiddo on the plains. These are the plains referred to in Revelation 19 where the battle of Armageddon shall take place. For me with today being a cloudy day, I could imagine seeing Christ’s returning and his armies in white following him. 

Not far away we arrived at Mount Carmel. It has lovely grounds, trees and seating for visitors like us. Pastor Andrew passionately took us through scripture relating the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  See 1 Kings 18. I got an eye-opener when he talked about the parallel attitude of David when taking on Goliath. Both Elijah and David were zealous that the God of Israel is the one and only God. We focused on how we should also not compromise by putting anything else in front of who God is and our relationship to Him. Again this place had a 360-degree spectacular view of which we could see all the way to the Mediterranean. 

Last stop before heading up to Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima. This in another Roman city with all the elements, but Herod the Great, made it into the most prosperous and largest port for trade. Herod also built a large palace there. It was at Herod’s praetorian that the apostle Paul was held for two years. We learned we should have the determination of Paul to stay on the course God has prepared for us. Also like Paul we should use every opportunity to share the gospel of Christ.  

Sheryl Hjellum


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