Late yesterday afternoon, I learned that the trip to Israel is a 'GO' and I was beginning to feel that the trip wouldn't happen because of the low number of people that had signed up. Whether we're going as a smaller group or with the exact number that was needed to carry on with the trip, I don't care. I'm just ecstatic that we are going to be visiting Israel soon and I thank God for what He has done through our fundraising and for what He has done to help others make this trip possible for them too. In just 6 weeks we'll be leaving.
To those who have made a donation for this trip and I am incredibly thankful for what you have given. Regardless of the size of your donation, I cannot begin to express how grateful and appreciative my wife and I are to each of you for your generosity. There were those that just couldn't help and they informed me of that as well, which is completely understandable. It is my hope and prayer for those that are in difficult financial situations right now, to see this experience of God's faithfulness and provision toward us, that He may do the same for you, as you place Him first in your life. (Matthew 6:33)
The very first donation we received included a note saying, "I want to help your wife to go too", which was very encouraging for my wife as well as myself. Then, for the other donations that continued to come in, even after the deadline date it was truly a blessing from God.
This experience has reminded me of something that reinforces my faith in God as I remember how much I can trust Him in the future and that is that He is never late, never too early, but always right on time and in His timing too. If this was going to be His will for us to attend, He would move upon the hearts of those whom He would use, to help us get to go to Israel and learn from this wonderful experience. I thank God for His amazing provision for us to go to Israel.
Our trip will be from 11-22 March and the full itinerary will be the following:
March 11 (Sun) Leave New York
March 12 (Mon) Arrive Tel Aviv
If time today, visit Caessarea Maritima, capital of Roman Palestine, where Paul was incarcerated before being shipped to Rome. Transfer to Seasons Hotel, Netanya.
March 13 (Tues) Muhraqa / Megiddo / Nazareth/Nain
Our day begins with a drive up the heights of Mount Carmel, stopping at the summit where Elijah contested with the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Then we descend to Megiddo, Solomon's store city, for a look at Canaanite temples, stables and a water system from the days of Ahab. Megiddo is mentioned in Revelation as the geographical point that will control the world. On our way to the sea we pass the lower Galilean town of Nain where Jesus raised a widow's son from the dead. The Herodian cemetery is clearly visible as we consider Luke's account there. Finally, we cut back to the ridge of Nazareth, Jesus’ boyhood home, for a consideration of village life in New Testament times and what Jesus’ upbringing would have been like. Then we drive through the rolling hills to a guest village astride Magdala, home of Mary Magdeline. This will be our home while touring Galilee. Overnight Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar, Tiberius.
March 14 (Wed) Nazareth / Chorazin / Kursi/Capernaum/Lunch/Boat Ride on Sea/Jordan River
This day begins with a visit to the ruins of Chorazin where we also get a first-hand look at life inside a Jewish fishing village of the first century. Then we circle around to the eastern shore of the sea to Gergesa/Kursi, the site of the casting out of the demons into the swine herd. Afterwards it is just a short ride to Capernaum, Jesus' headquarters in the home of Simon Peter's mother-in-law. Then after lunch by the sea, we take a jaunt across the Sea from Gennesaret to Tiberius on a boat replica from the time of Jesus. Our day climaxes on the shores of the Jordan River and a look at baptism in Jesus’ day. Overnight Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar, Tiberius.
March 15 (Thurs) Beth Shean / Ma’ayan Harod /Qumran/Jericho
After a good night's sleep we visit Beth Shean (known as Scythopolis in Jesus' day) at the foot of Mt. Gilboa. This city gives us the most complete picture of life in Gentile Galilee during the time of Christ. Then it is on to the spring where Gideon pared down him men at the command of the Lord in dealing with the Midianites. Then we motor down to Qumran and the famous Dead Sea Scroll caves. After lunch and a visit to the community housing the Yachad, we cut back to Jericho to see this infamous city and discuss Joshua’s assault on the land of Canaan. Overnight Intercontinental Hotel, Jericho.
March 16 (Fri) Ein Gedi Hike / Masada /Dead Sea Overlook
This day begins with a hike up the canyon where David hid from Saul (I Samuel 24). Here we’ll consider the setting of the 23rd Psalm with all of its features. Then it’s on to a visit of the infamous fortress of Masada where Jewish Zealots stood to the last against the 10th legion of Rome. After this, we motor on the high plateau of the eastern Negev and our stopping place at the Israeli city of Arad. Overnight Inbar Hotel, Arad.
March 17 (Sat) Arad / Beersheba / Lachish/Azekah
Our day beings with a visit to the strong point of ancient Arad, where rest the ruins of Solomon’s fort and temple established during the latter days of his reign. Then it’s on to Beersheba, city of Abraham, situated on the highlands of the western Negev. We then move north through the encampments of desert dwellers to the fortress city of Lachish. Here we examine what's left of the attack of Sennacherib's Assyrian regulars on this strong point. Lachish is the probable site of the Lord's smiting of Sennacherib's army for his insolence against Hezekiah's Jerusalem. A short ride north brings us to the beautiful, spacious Elah Valley where David fought Goliath. The overlook from Azekah is spectacular. Then it's up to Bethlehem and on to Jerusalem and our first look at the city where God placed his Name to dwell. Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.
March 18 (Sun) Jerusalem / David's City / Southern Wall Excavations/Wailing Wall/Herodian Quarter
Our day begins with the ramparts and building remains of Old Testament Israel's capital city built by David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Herod the Great. This morning's activities include visits to the terraces of David's palace, Hezekiah's water system, and the sacred temple platform developed by Solomon and Herod. We’ll visit the southern approach to Herod’s temple where Jesus preached to the multitudes during his last week on earth. This afternoon we lunch in the Jewish Quarter, home to the Sadducees during Jesus' day. Here we’ll sit with an orthodox Jewish scholar who will engage us with the claims of mainline Judaism and his understandings of contemporary Christianity. With much to ponder we return to our hotel for the night. Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.
March 19 (Mon) Israel Museum / Wohl Archaeological Museum / Herodium / Bethlehem
The day begins at the Israel Museum for a look at the Jerusalem from Jesus’ day in a 1:50 scale model of the city. This viewing will set up importantly what we will do on our final day as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus during his final week. Our day continues beneath the streets of the upper city looking at the homes of the priestly caste. Here we’ll lay out the arrangement of Caiaphas’ house, which will assist us in tomorrow’s activities. Then it’s on to the humble site of Bethlehem where the Prince of Peace was born. There we'll visit the town square and give some time for lunch and experiencing this town on the edge of the Judean wilderness. After lunch we move to the site of Herod’s burial place at a fortress called Herodium (“Herod’s Place”). The underground escape tunnels and accoutrements of the citadel are spectacular. Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.
March 20 (Tues) Mount of Olives/Gethsemane/St. Peter in Gallicantu / The Citadel / Church of the Holy Sepulchre
We begin this final climactic day of our program on the historic Mount of Olives with a panoramic tracing of the events of Passion Week. We then stroll along to the Dominus Flevit church, built originally by the Byzantines to commemorate the event of Christ's weeping over Jerusalem. The agony of Christ takes on new meaning at the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built over the ruins of Caiaphas' house and courtyard. Then after lunch we visit the site of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate and walk together to the site of his crucifixion and burial. As we reflect on these events we give particular attention to the resurrection on which our faith rests. Overnight Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem.
March 21 (Wed) FREE DAY
A breather to reflect, shop and/or continue our adventures on our own around the holy city. We’ll provide many options at the start of the day.
March 22 (Thurs) Depart Tel Aviv
It's definitely a busy schedule, but one that I am quite sure will be an amazing experience for both Kristi and I, as well as for everyone else that will be going too. We'll take lots of pictures too.
Have a blessed weekend.
Faithfully in Christ,