Shalom from the Holy Land!
Our group arrived in Israel last night safe and well. Our hotel was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We weren’t able to see the Great Sea because of darkness. However, a majestic sight was before us today with the break of dawn. What an amazing place to start our day! Our group ate a delicious dinner last night and breakfast this morning. And yes, I believe I’ll be writing about this often, we’ve already consumed a healthy amount of chocolate. Our breakfast selections were limited this morning. Bread and meats weren’t available because this is the end of Passover for the Jewish people.
Our group is made up of pilgrims from several states: Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Washington, and Kansas. Our team arrived at the bus early this morning. Folks were ready to leave the hotel and experience our faith’s homeland.
As you and I open our Bibles, we have four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Believers in Israel say that we have five Gospels. Walking in the Holy Land is the fifth Gospel. You can’t spend time in Israel and read the Bible the same again.
Our first stop of the morning was at Caesarea by the Sea. We sat in a historic theatre and read Acts 10. That chapter makes the connection between Joppa and Caesarea. The gospel changed Cornelius’ life and the lives of his family, resulting in spiritual transformation for us. To our shock, on our way out, we saw one of the deadliest snakes in Israel. It’s called a “Palestinian Viper.” If you were bitten by that snake, and didn’t receive immediate medical help, you’d die within minutes. I’m thankful that no one in our group is a snake handler.
We visited Megiddo and read Revelation 16:1-16. This is the site of the future Battle of Armageddon. Blood will fill the Jezreel Valley. Our task of sharing Jesus and making disciples of all nations is urgent. Jesus is coming again! As Jesus shed His blood for us once and for all, Satan, our adversary, will be defeated once and for all. There’s a tunnel and spring at Megiddo that we walked to. We walked down 186 steps and walked up 58 steps. I heard shouts of joy when that walk was finished.
Our first worship service in Israel was at Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 19:1-14 was the biblical text for the message. Eddie Turner led us in singing songs about the greatness of our God. My message focused on mankind’s wickedness, Elijah’s emotions, and God’s whisper. Traveling up to Mount Carmel allowed us to see several first century tombs.
We stopped in the village of Nazareth early afternoon. This area is much different today than in the days of Jesus. Shafik, our tour guide, shared with us from Isaiah 11 and Revelation 22. He talked about the Greek words for carpenter. We often think of wood. However, that word can also mean masonry. Jesus was an expert with a hammer and nails. Those tools would later be used as He gave His life for us on the cross.
Our final stop before going to The Scots Hotel was in the village of Cana. Jesus attended a wedding in Cana and performed His first miracle there. We had five couples renew their marriage vows. It was a special time of worship, celebrating God’s design for marriage. Among the five couples, they had a collected 216 years of marriage.
Later in the day, our group saw the Sea of Galilee for the first time. It’s breathtaking to see where Jesus walked on the water, where He calmed the storm, and where He called His first disciples.
One unforgettable experience of visiting the Holy Land is taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Our two-hour boat ride is scheduled for early in the morning. Besides the ride, we’ll stop in the middle of the sea, shut off the engines, and worship the Lord. I’m praying that our worship experience will be a “holy ground” moment.
Thank you for praying and following our pilgrimage in the Holy Land. We’ll post another update tomorrow.
Rejoicing in God’s Faithfulness,