Israel Study Tour with Wellspring Church, Cherokee Hills Baptist Church

Mar 2-13, 2020

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So much history being brought back to life before our very eyes!

"Don't forget to not forget, God really does not share his glory with anyone"

What a wonderful day we had here in Israel! Every day I think that things can't get much better and low and behold, they most certainly do.
It was a shame to leave the Sea of Galilee this morning after spending a wonderful three days there but the sights we saw today made it worth it. We packed all of our things and had a nice final breakfast at the Ein Gev Holiday Resort before loading onto the bus where by the end of another busy day we would end up in the modern city of Jerusalem.

We made our first stop toward Jerusalem at Beth She'an, an ancient Roman city is what can be seen at the time but Dan told us that there are a total of 27 different layers of civilization all underneath one hillside. From Canaanites to Romans and almost everything in between. The sight of the Roman city was amazing with beautiful architecture and mosaics along with the history that comes with such a city. This is the place that 1 Samuel 31 took place and the Great Wake of 749 brought this thriving city to its ruin. Amazing enough, the plumbing and sewer still works. Here we could see a colonnade, an amphitheater, the large bathhouse and public latrines. An amazing site to see and something that really helps to solidify what we read in the Bible.

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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After leaving Beth She'an, we drove to Megiddo which might be better known to some as the Valley of Jezreel or the Valley of Armageddon. This is known to archeologists as the birthplace of modern archeology after G. Schumacher learned that instead of just digging and stirring up all of the layers that a cut should be made so that all of the layers can be seen at one point. A great discovery and one that shaped modern archeology. This held an amazing view from the top of the fields down below where many battles in history were fought including the Battle of Gideon, Saul and the Philistines, and 2 Chronicles 35:20's battle. So much history being brought back to life before our very eyes!

Megiddo

From the earliest times (EB) to the earliest historical records of the area (Thutmose III) to the future (Revelation 16), Megiddo assumes a prominent role. This is largely owing to its strategic location astride the Megiddo Pass (Wadi Ara) and inside the busy Jezreel Valley.

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We then went to lunch at a nice restaurant where we were served falafels and schnitzels. A nice time to talk about the morning, fill up on some good food, and prepare for the rest of the day.

Making our way from lunch, we arrived at Mount Carmel, the place where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:16-46. We were able to gather on the rooftop of the monastery that is now sitting there and read through and discuss the story of Elijah and the prophets. We gained good insight into the story here and learned some great lessons on how miracles alone don't change the heart and how two things that those who are truly following the Lord should expect are persecution and provision. Another amazing site to visit and one that brings this passage to life as I can imagine it happening right were I stood.

Mt. Carmel

Biblically, Mt. Carmel is referenced most often as a symbol of beauty and fertility. To be given the “splendor of Carmel” was to be blessed indeed (Isa 35:2). Solomon praised his beloved: “your head crowns you like Mount Carmel” (Song 7:5). But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4).

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The last place of the day before heading into Jerusalem was the once great city of Caesarea Maritima. This was the city that Herod the Great built and it was amazing. The place itself has not been even close to fully excavated and discovered and it still seems huge. It took 12 years to build and is complete with an amphitheater to fit 5,000 people, an enormous palace that held legions of soldiers, the courthouse, the tax collector's wing, a large pool and much more. It sits right on the Mediterranean Sea even though some of it is actually in the sea now due to quakes. This is also a significant place in the Bible as it is the place that Paul was tried before being sent to Rome in Acts 24-26. We were able to stand in the courthouse where he was tried and get a real sense of the story. Some other interesting things about this place is that a stone was found with the name of Pontius Pilate on it, confirm to all that he was indeed a real person. In the amphitheater we talked about the story of King Agrippa from the biblical account and Josephus' account and how because King Agrippa did not give glory to God, he was struck down and died. Another place where history really comes alive. You can read the story in Acts 12:19-23.

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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After finishing our site seeing for the day, we loaded back into the bus and made the long almost 2 hour ride to Jerusalem. We arrived at the Grand Court Hotel and unloaded our luggage before heading to an amazing dinner at the hotel. Everyone stuffed themselves with delicious food and desserts before we met with Dan to go over some logistics for tomorrow's journeys.
After a good long day, we all headed to our rooms to get a good nights rest for the morning.

Please pray that as we interact with the people around us from many different religions and backgrounds, that we could be the light of Christ in a dark world and that hearts might be changed.

In Christ Alone,
Keegan Mebert

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