Israel Study Tour - Troy Thomas & Marshall Holtvluwer

Mar 18-28, 2019

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The tension we live with

Day 06!! Two more to go. It feels like we have been here for a lot longer. I want to slow down time and have the ability to see and do more. That is not possible so I will just take what I am given and be grateful and humble that I am even here at all.

Because of the blog I am doing double duty looking at the material twice. But I believe that this opportunity to be here in Israel and see these ancient sites where Abraham, David, and countless other faithful followers of Yahweh have walked will continue to yield hours and hours of thoughtful reflection and study.

I cannot tell you how humorous it has been on this study tour. We have all laughed so much; at ourselves, with each other, at the people around us, and the situations our group has found ourselves in. For example, when Marshall teaches it never fails that someone will walk in front of him. Seriously, out of nowhere a person or group of people will appear and walk right in front of as he is teaching us. Never Troy...always Marshall. Super funny to watch happen.
 And Ronen, our guide, is hilarious and has a very dry deadpan sense of humor. He loves to be early because that is his job, to make sure we are where we need to be to get into or out of wherever we are or are going. Troy walks up to Ronen with a big smile and says, "Hey Ronen, we are early are you happy?" Ronen replies, "No, I am not happy." Troy with concern says, "Why not." And with a straight face Ronen says, "Because I'm Jewish." Funny right?
He is constantly dropping these dry super funny one liners and comments that catch us by surprise. As we grow closer and build trust with one another we enjoy being in Israel even more and we find ourselves willing to laugh and be vulnerable and that has made this tour so much fun.

Today one of the locations we visited was Caesarea Maritima. This city was the largest port of it's day on the Mediterranean and was built by Herod from 22 b.c. to 10 b.c. and was influenced greatly by Roman culture. This culture stood in stark contrast to the Jewish one that lived around it. I am sure this created great tension inside of a Jewish person and caused great temptation for them.

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).[2] 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.

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Earlier in the trip we learned that water was essential for a desert people and if you did not have it you died. Water was for survival. And if it was living water you could use it ceremonially for Mikvah. A unique aspect of Caesarea Maritima and Herod's palace but there was that there was a freshwater pool for him to swim in and enjoy. And the theatre had an area that could be filled and used as a, according to Ronen, a small type of "water park.". This would have been totally unfamiliar to a Jewish person and might cause them to be attracted to Romen culture and what it claims to offer. This is often the tension we live with in the 21st century right? How much materialism is too much materialism? Where do I draw the line? Not much has changed for us as followers of God has it?

We are linked to those followers of God who have gone before us. This study tour has impressed that upon me so much. They had an enemy that made war against them and so do we. John 10:10 teaches that the "thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy." Is there anywhere we have compromised? Have we made agreements with the enemy we ought not to have made? 
In Caesarea Maritima Paul taught about who Jesus was and what Jesus was like over and over. From the lowest to the high. He remained faithful to the end. Read Acts 24-26 and see how Paul conducts himself while held in a Roman jail cell. He is faithful through obedience to the sharing of the gospel message. It does not matter who he was talking to.
 Can we say the same?

 I pray that your hearts are filled with laughter and joy as ours are.

There is so much more but alas it is time for bed. =)


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