"But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD." Jonah 1:3
Joppa was our first stop. This was a personal spot for me because the Lord had me read the book of Jonah over and over again back in the late 1990's when I was returning to Him. The most amazing part of being in the Holy Land is realizing that I just made up in my mind what places looked like. Now I know what these places look like. It's like reading the Bible "in color" now. I plan to lead a trip back to the Holy Land probably in late November of 2009. If you would like to come please let me know.
Pastor Eric at Capernaum
On the morning of the second day I awoke on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in the City of Tiberius. Our first stop was Capernaum where Jesus lived. We saw the archeological dig of the home of Peter and walked in the synagogue.
Matthew 4:12-17 "When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali? to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles? the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
The Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount
Our next stop was the location of the sermon on the mount. This was a stunner for me. I just stood and looked out across the Sea of Galilee and let the thoughts roll through my mind that I was standing in the spot that Jesus preached that famous message.
Matthew 5:1,2 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
Archeological excavations at Dan
Our next stop was on the northern border of Israel next to Lebanon. This is Tel Dan where Jeroboam set up one of the two golden calves after he became the leader of the Northern Kingdom. You can see a frame near the center of the dig which is where the golden calve was. About 50 feet behind where I was standing when I took this picture was the border with Lebanon. It was marked by rusty barbed wire and signs warning of land mines behind the barbed wire.
All of Israel was supposed to be under Rehoboam the son of Solomon but Rehoboam did not listen to good council and ten tribes rebelled against him. When he mustered an army to fight them the word of the Lord came through the Shemaiah not to fight. Jeroboam was afraid that if all his subjects went to Jerusalem three times a year that they would want to be reunited with Israel so he made golden calves for them to worship. Because of this Israel was lead into sin and eventually was taken away to Babylon. You can read all about this in 1 Kings 12.
Pastor Eric Caesarea Philippi
"Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:16
Our next stop was Caesarea Philippi which is also in the northern most part of Israel near Tel Dan. As we drove up to the City site we saw the border with Syria along side the road. There was a lot of rusty barbed wire and signs warning of land mines. The picture shows me in a part of the City known as Pan's Temple which is indicative of the pagan nature of the City. We have no record of Jesus ever coming into the city but it was near hear that the Apostle Peter made his famous statement about Jesus "You are the Christ." The Transfiguration also is said to have happened near the city as well.
"Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen; the stately trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan; the dense forest has been cut down!" Zecharriah 11:2
Our next stop was an old fort on the top of the Golan Heights at Mount Bental. This is the site of the one of the largest tank battles in history which took place during the Yom Kippur war. I had heard stories about the amazing miracles that God did to save the Nation of Isreal during that battle. On our trip, we were priveldged to have the owner of the tour company, Shalom, with us who was a Colonel in the army at the time and participated in the battle. We heard first hand accounts of God's miraculous provision. Shalom has told me that he will be with us the day we are there when we come back as a group. If you want to come please contact me and let me know.
On the Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Even though it was on my first full day, the memory of being out on the Sea of Galilee in a wooden boat worshipping God is still one of my most treasured memories of my trip to the Holy Land. We went out on the only boat owned by a Christian. He has a whole sound system and is himself a worship leader and recording artist. When we go we will plan to go on this same boat and worship together as we gaze out at the Lake where so many great events happened.
Matthew 14:25-27 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."