My Journey Through the Holy Land - Part One
Shalom from Israel! This time last year I read as our pastor posted about his trip to the Holy Land. I was so moved, I knew that was a trip I wanted to make one day. This time last year, this was only a dream. It seems so unreal that I am writing to you from Jerusalem!
We are on day 9 of our journey as we are walking where Jesus walked! I have been clueless on what to write about this week because I can't pick just one topic. So, I thought I would share a lot of pictures. We all like pictures, don't we!?! It would be so long and take forever if I shared something from every stop we made. So, I will just be listing some highlights!
Many have asked me if I feel safe over here. The answer is YES! Did you know that Israel has one of the lowest crime rates in the world? Also, the entire city of Jerusalem is under video surveillance and the police are very visible everywhere we go. We even ventured out one night to downtown Jerusalem and even rode in taxis. Don't listen to what the media has to say and don't let that hinder you from coming! This trip is worth every penny and I will never read the Scriptures the same! God's Word has come alive so much! Now for a recap and some pictures!
We visited Old City Jaffa (known as Joppa in the Bible...Acts 9) the first day. This is the harbor where Jonah was escaping from God and ultimately got swallowed the whale.
The remains of King Herod’s summer palace and where Paul was held in prison. My take away...what bold faith that Paul had! We read about it, but to stand in the place where all of this happened is overwhelming! For him to be imprisoned there and not waiver from his faith! Go and read Acts 26:28-29! May that be our prayer!
Caesarea - The Roman Theater where King Herod delivered a speech in Acts 12 and did not give glory to God so an angel of the Lord struck him and he eventually died being eaten by worms. The same place where Paul came before Felix and Agrippa in Acts 23-26.
This is where Paul was held in prison.
The Valley of Jezreel: the largest and most fertile valley in all of Israel. Fun Fact....today this valley produces the highest volume of food per square foot in the world! Read Ezekiel 36:35...prophecy being fulfilled! This is also the Valley of Gideon’s victory (Judges 7). Lots of battles took place here. Napoleon said it’s the best battlefield in the world. What we know it as best, The Valley of Armageddon, where the final battle will be fought. So much more about this I could share!
Capernaum - which was the base of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. When Jesus left Nazareth He came to Capernaum and it was the center of His ministry for the last 18-20 months of His life on earth. The pictures by the Sea of Galilee is where Jesus called His first disciples (Matthew 4:13, 18-22; 9:9-13). It is beautiful and so peaceful...can you imagine Peter and Andrew out there fishing and when Jesus said, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men”? Scripture says they IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Him. No questions asked! A huge take away for us!
The same type of trough baby Jesus would have been laid in.
Nazareth: the boyhood home of Jesus...where He attended school and church. This is where Mary first heard the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would give birth to the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-28). Christ entered the ministry here. It was here that Jesus claimed He was the Messiah and the people ran him out of the town with intentions of throwing Him to His death (Luke 4:16-31). He walked by them undetected and went to Capernaum to begin His earthly ministry. About 200 families lived in Nazareth in Jesus’ day. Now...over 250,000 people with 70% Muslim and 30% Christian Arabs, and a few Jewish people living in upper Nazareth.
Village of Capernaum: Village of Salvation
It was a transit area so a perfect place to speak about the kingdom of heaven! Jesus was not hiding..he was in the busiest place where everyone could hear and see what he was doing. This is the place Jesus told them He is the bread of life (John 6:35). This is also where Peter lived and Jesus healed His mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14). Jesus performed so many miracles right here in the city of Capernaum! He preached in the synagogue here! We stood on these very sites...talk about overwhelming and humbling!
Sermon on the Mount/Mount Beatitudes- Many believe this to be the site where Jesus taught the Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7). Pastor Jordan gave us time to sit on the side of the hill over looking the Sea of Galilee, in the place Jesus probably sat as the disciples sat at His feet soaking every bit in that He had to say! What an overwhelming and humbling moment!
Sea of Galilee- We took a boat ride out on the Sea of Galilee! This is where Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-23, John 6:16-21), Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27), spoke to the multitudes from Peter’s boat (Mark 3:7-12, Luke 5:1-3). It was raining as we went out, but the Lord stopped the rain and gave us a beautiful time out on the water!
Yardenit Baptismal Site - The Jordan River
These are the waters that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (John 1:28-34). We had the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan! An amazing, unforgettable experience!!! Although, we were not baptized in the exact spot, Bethabara, it is not accessible to tourists to be baptized.
Ein Harod (Gideon’s Spring) - This is where Gideon had 32,000 men to fight the Midianites and then God separated them sending all but 300 home (Judges 7). We always have our own agenda don’t we? So did Gideon, but God had a different plan! Saul also encamped here the night before me his death in the Philistine battle (1 Samuel 29:1)
Beth Shean - it’s also called the “house of security”. It’s a city that protected the entrance to the Valley of Jezreel from the Jordan Valley. Excavations have revealed 18 levels of occupation with six pagan temples. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century. It’s one of the largest archaeological excavation projects underway in Israel. Beth Shean was a part of Manasseh’s inheritance (Judges 1:27) and Saul and his son’s bodies hung here (1 Samuel 31:8-13)
The Jordan River Valley - we drove south down the Jordan River Valley. The Jordan River is the boundary line today between Israel and Jordan. This is the exact spot that Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3; Mark 1:4-11)!!! What?!?! Amazing!! Israel miraculously crossed it (it was wider back then!) and gathered stones from the bottom (Joshua 3:13-17; 4:1-9, 20-24), John baptized many here (Matthew 3:6).
This is was the first half of our trip! Jerusalem and Bethlehem will be another post! If you ever get the chance to go, don't let anything stand in your way! I will never open God's Word and read it the same.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!