Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On to Galilee

On our second (and last) day of touring in Israel, we headed north to Galilee. We passed a tel named Megiddo and drove through the Jezreel Valley to Mount Tabor. This first picture is our view looking down from Mount Tabor into the Jezreel Valley. It's pretty vast and the picture doesn't do it justice. Several interesting events have taken place in this valley or on this mountain:

*This is where Deborah joined Barak in his battle against the Canaanites

*This location is also considered traditionally where the transfiguration of Jesus took place (though it's not verified or proven)

*Below in the valley is where Gideon defeated the Midianites - it was fun reading that story on the Mountain and trying to imagine what 300 soldiers with pitchers and torches in their hands surrounding the Midianite army looked like

*But for those of you who know me, probably the most fascinating event still to come is the battle of Armegeddon, which will take place in this valley, between Megiddo and Mt. Tabor. It was interesting to me how vast and open the valley is - farm land abounds and the occasional town on the edges, but mainly wide open. Now if I were Satan, I think I would have developed this whole valley so that it would not be a choice battlefield for the last showdown between the enemies of God and the Almighty Himself. Then at least there would be one prophecy that was false. But no such luck...God is sovereign over all and this huge field, miles and miles of land, is simply waiting that final battle. Amazing! It's massive, by the way...

Next we went to Capernaum. After being rejected in Nazereth, Jesus made Capernaum his home town (Matt. 4:13). Peter, Andrew, James and John were all fishermen who came from Capernaum, as well as Matthew the tax collector. The town is well excavated and in this first picture you can see some of the ruins. Do you see the large structure in the back, built on top of the ruins? This is a church/synagogue and you can enter it to worship. It is built directly over the top of a large open ruin that is supposed to be Peter's house.

And here you go! Above us in this picture is the base of the church and below is the ruins of Peter's house. Not sure why they think this is Peter's house or why it was necessary to build the church on top of it, but it was interesting to see...

Here are more ruins - there were several olive presses. I explained to my girls with me that when Jesus said that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around your neck and for you to be tossed into the sea, than for you to cause a child who believes in Jesus to sin (Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2), this was what He was talking about. That round stone would be the millstone.
Here is Orit standing in the synagogue. These ruins have a foundation that dates back to the time of Christ, but the majority of the structure is later than the first century.

After Capernaum, we continued north to the Syrian border. Mount Herman was in the distance, which is the very north of Israel. This area is the Golan Heights. In this picture we are standing on a dormant volcano (which has a name that for the moment has escaped me) and on this location is a military bunker. If there would be some kind of invasion to the north, this whole area would be evacuated and within six hours it would become an active military base. We toured the bunker inside the volcano and it was really fascinating. I'd love to tell you about it, but then I'd have to kill you...We felt safe, since there has been no fighting here since Israel captured the Heights in the late 70's. In this picture, Syria is behind us. Anything green and maintained is Israel, anything desert-like is Syria.

The Golan Heights is a key area for the security of Israel. From this point, the Israeli military can successfully protect and defend their nation from an attack from the north. Unfortunately, this prime real estate is one of the pieces that is on the negotiating table with the Arabs. Eitan believes that ultimately Israel will lose the Golan Heights to the Palestinians in the name of peace, but it will only weaken Israel's position and open them up for more trouble.

This is Hannah, Mary and Alex popping out of the top of one of the gunnery stations on the top of this volcano. The bunker winds deep into the volcano, with places to scope out the mountains and lands surrounding them, as well as places to rest and eat. Much of the bunker was closed to tourists, but what we saw gave us confidence that this area is valuable to the Israeli security.

Finally, we went swimming in the sea of Galilee. We made a pact before the day began...if we went swimming, we wouldn't post pictures on the internet of the event! So, being the faithful mother that I am, I am not posting a picture of the event, but if you come over, I'll show you them in person!

The sea of Galilee is very low, by the way. We need to pray for rain in Israel - they are truly in the midst of a drought and I know my friends asked several times if we would ask God for rain.

We ended the day eating at an Arab restaurant. It was a real treat. We sat at a table and they filled it with small plates of what they call "salad." There was several kinds of cole slaw, a variety of pickled veggies, humus and eggplant spread to dip your pita in - plates everywhere! Fresh pita was incredible and then we all ordered some kind of meat to add to our plates...way too much food! When we were done, they moved us to a different table and served us coffee that could make your hair fall out, watermelon and baklava, or their version of it. It was truly an adventure!

We got home around 9:30, showered, packed and then dozed until 2:00 a.m. Then we headed to the airport for a 5:30 a.m. flight. As you can tell, the trip was too short but we saw what we could and moved on to the next adventure.

There is something awe-inspiring to be where Jesus walked and to be where the events of the Bible took place. In America, we have such little history because we are so young, that I can't even compare what you see in Israel to something here. But I guess what amazes me the most is that God would extend His love and His presence to the Gentiles. He had His hands full with the Israelites. Why would He bother to add more trouble to the mix? But we have to remember that the Gentiles (that's you and me) were not an added thought. God didn't come up with a different plan and graft us in because He was rejected by His own people.

After Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to dedicate Him at the Temple. There they came upon a man named Simeon, who took Jesus in his arms and, quoting Isaiah, said, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."

You see, Jesus was given for all peoples, Gentiles and Jews alike. This has been a part of God's plan all along. We know that before the foundations of the world were laid, God chose for Himself a people to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:3-5). This included Gentiles. And we also know that if we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham's descendants according to the promise (Galatians 3:6-9,25-29). So looking at the deep, rich history of the land and knowing how much God loves His people, I claim His love and that history as my own.

Don't you long for the day when faith shall be sight?


  1. Kristin,I too, remember the Syrian border and how neat and orderly were the green feilds of Isreal and how devestated and bleak and dry were the Syrian lands from that view. It seemed it was a commentary on Gods favor. I also remember the amazing view of the Jezreel Valley and envisioning the armies gathering there for the battle. How real it all is. It is a stage set and just waiting for the actors to arrive and the scene to be played out at the Director's command. Thanks for sharing your memories. I, too, fell in love with Jerusalem as I overlooked it from our hotel balcony but the words of Jesus as he cried over it keep ringing through my head.
    It is a city filled with religion and ritual but very little truth. I am glad to hear of the faithfullness of your friends in bringing the truth to the believers there. Great thoughts, keep it coming. I am enjoying the trip.

  2. What a great thought, Kristen, that it is our history as well too, because we belong to Him, because we are Abraham's descendants. Probably won't ever get over to this Jerusalem, but can't wait to explore the new Jerusalem! Thanks for taking us with you on your trip with these posts. (Sixteen days and you can show me the swimming pics... :) won't have to kill me afterwards, will you?)

  3. This is fascinating Mrs. Wisen! :D It's fun to "travel" along with you. I'm thinking that someday I should definitely visit Israel.

  4. I'll probably never get there either but seeing your pictures and connecting the old testament to the areas really brings the Bible alive. Its been fun to travel along with you.