The next two days will be spent in Galilee. Our morning began with a car rental and my first experience driving in Israel. I warned the ladies about my reputation as a distracted driver and I knew it wouldn’t help that I was trying to do some sightseeing at the same time. I know they were praying.
Our first stop was Joppa which is just a few kilometers from the hotel. Joppa is where Jonah caught the boat to Tarshish when fleeing from the Lord. It is also the town where Peter saw the vision of the sheet and all kinds of animals…which the Lord declared to be clean. This took place at Simon the Tanner’s house also located in Joppa.
We proceeded to drive along the coast to Caesarea. Truly an incredible sight. The city of Caesarea was built by Herod the Great and his summer home. Here is a picture of the theater where Paul spoke before King Agrippa and a packed house. Paul stayed in Caesarea for approximately two years prior to heading to Rome to appeal to Caesar.
This picture is proof that: #1, I was really driving in Israel, #2, I did have my eyes on the road, #3, Jesus is Lord!
One of my most favorite places in Galilee is Mt Arbel. It is a mountain near the Sea of Galilee. We don’t know for sure, but I like to think that when the Scriptures speak of Jesus withdrawing to a mountain to pray…this is the spot. I love doing bible studies up here. Chck out this ‘rock hydrax’…one of the many animals spoken of in the bible. He is a cute little bugger…who would probably rip your face off if you got too close.
Can’t come to Mt Arbel without a picture of Jenny’s and my favorite tree. The tree on the masthead of my blog is this same tree, taken at sundown. Last year we didn’t make it here which was a real bummer. From the top of Mt Arbel, is the most spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee you will ever see.
There is only one way to describe this picture…”Suffering for Jesus!” This is where we stayed. It is one of the many kibbutz’ in Israel. These kibbutz’ were established when the Jews returned to Israel in 1948 after it became a state. They represent different families and are run by those living in the kibbutz’. This particular kibbutz is called Nof Ginnosar. It is the place where we stayed on our first trip to Israel. The food is amazing and our plans are to stay here next year when we return.
Another one of my favorite spots in Galilee is the Mount of Beatitudes. You cannot help but envision the multitudes of people sitting on these rolling hills…listening to Jesus teaching. I cannot imagine anything being more wonderful. I taught a bible study here last year, except it was raining so hard I had to teach it on the bus, close to this spot. Visiting here was a great way to end our first day in Galilee.
After a good night’s sleep, we headed out for a full day of sightseeing before needing to be back in Tel Aviv for a 7:00 meeting.
The day began with a viewing of ‘The Ancient Galilean Boat’. I believe that this amazing exhibit is run by the family who also runs Nof Ginnosar. At the very least, it is on the same property, right next to the hotel. Here is a picture of our guide in front of the boat. It really is an incredible discovery. Some fisherman found it buried beneath the mud and is dated to the time and type of boat that fishermen in Jesus’ day would have used. It is conceivable that Jesus, Peter or any one of the disciples rode in this boat.
On our way to kibbutz En Gev, for a fish lunch, we stopped at the spot on Jordan river where we do our baptisms. Fortunately there were very few people. The serenity of this particular part of the Jordan is wonderful. I love just looking at the water and thinking about Jesus being baptized in this river. As we were gazing at the river, we noticed some humongous catfish swimming below where we were standing. I am already looking forward to the baptism next year and the thought of one of these beauties slithering alongside my legs.
Our bus driver Avi Maletzky grew up in En Gev. He is a Christian Jew whose parents met at Auschwitz. He has become a dear friend. This is the bomb shelter where Avi lived as a child. He lived there for 17 years, only coming out for 20 minutes a day to play. He is one of the most joyful people I have ever known. Such a great attitude in the midst of trial and tribulation. Hope you can all meet him one day. He has been our bus driver every trip and is scheduled to be our bus driver next year.
Our last stop before heading back to Tel Aviv, was Bet Shean. Bet Shean is the city where Saul and Jonathan’s bodies were hung after they died on Mt. Gilboa. This particular discovery at Bet Shean is the city of Scythopolis, a Roman city that was built around 70-60 BC. It is a pretty amazing experience to be walking down an authentic Roman road. The size of the dig is enormous and keeps growing every time we come.
Tel Aviv is only about an hour and a half from Bet Shean, but we found out what Tel Aviv rush hour is all about which made it a bit longer. By the time we got to the hotel, we were beat. We got there just in time for dinner and meeting with our new friends, Sharif and Gigi, for coffee. Sharif works within walking distance of the hotel and came by the hotel to lead us to their home.
We had a delightful visit, though must say I had a tough time keeping awake after such a long day. Their daughters, Nardine and Nada are really cute. They were all excited to be able to walk us back to the hotel with mom and dad. We will be joining them for dinner at a local restaurant tomorrow night to celebrate their recent news that Gigi is expecting.
Tomorrow the final phase of our trip begins. We will have lunch with Pastor Steve Apple of CC Tel Aviv and then the women will attend the women’s bible study. Gigi invited Sue and Donna to share with the women about the Healing Hearts Ministry. Needless to say they are very excited. The Lord is really bringing things together and we are expecting some fertile soil to be plowed and effective seeds to be sown.
Until next time…