Caesarea, Nazareth, Armageddon, & Galilee

We drank from a Holy Land firehose today.  And it was amazing!  But we could hardly move by the end of the day.  The temps are near 100 with humidity and I don’t think I’ve ever felt heat like this, but it’s all worth it.  The Biblical history everywhere you turn is staggering.  I’m swallowing just as fast as I can with that firehose, trying to remember what I hear.

I will be taking notes today.  You just can’t remember it all.

It is Monday morning on the Sea of Galilee.  4:30 am.  I know I’m crazy, but you’ve got to take the time while you have it.  I just couldn’t wait to share with you what I experienced yesterday.

When we woke up on the Mediterranean Sea in Yetanya at The Seasons Hotel on the 11th floor, this was our view.

IMG_4442IMG_4542Andy and I were reacting like kids waking up at Disney World!  We were in Israel on the Mediterranean!  What?!?!

Andy immediately, before his shower, had to run out to the beach….oh wait, those are cliffs down there… and jump in the ocean.  If you look closely you can find him in these photos.  What you can’t make out is the 3 minor jellyfish stings he got when he was out there.

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Because our schedule was shortened this week, we are going from one thing to the next fairly quickly.  We are taking advantage of as much as possible with the time we’ve got.  So we went on a walk there in Yetanya after breakfast, and enjoyed the view.

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Then it was back on the bus!

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There were a lot of cats walking around in Yetanya!

Our guide, Daniel, is very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.  He and our driver Mordi (Mordechai) took us to Caesarea, to an outdoor theater around since Bible times.  It’s very likely that Paul was tried here.

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There were actual remnants of the original theater, including a stone manger!

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We continued on down to where horse and chariot races were held by the sea.  It must have been something to see.  The sand bags down by the ocean were preserving a beautiful mosaic.

 

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You can see the large power plant in the background.

We then headed to the remains of a huge aqueduct.  Water traveled 9 miles through this system!  You can see where the end of it is buried in sand.

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Driving on, our guide Daniel told us many things about the surrounding hills and countryside, naming so many stories in the Bible.  The Scriptures were coming alive to me like never before!

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It was surreal to see the modern mixed with the ancient.  The above couple of photos are of the Valley of Armageddon.

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There was a big difference when we came upon the predominantly Arab areas.  The architecture was different, among other things.  Those who live in these areas are about 2/3 muslim and 1/3 Christians.  You can see the Arabic writing on the signs above.  All throughout Israel you see English, Hebrew and Arabic writing.

You might be surprised to know that Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth is predominantly Muslim now.  One of the highlights of the day for me was going to the top of Mt. Precipice overlooking Nazareth on the one side, and the Valley of Armageddon on the other.

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I was profoundly affected by being in the place where Christ was raised.  And I was surprised to see how hilly it was.  The mount we stood upon is thought to be the one the villagers wanted to throw Jesus off of and he walked away from them.

The Valley of Armageddon was vast and it was sobering to think of it covered in blood, according to Revelation.  Our guide told us of many battles fought here in the Bible, even one fought at Mt Tabor by Napoleon and his troops.

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We saw Cana where Jesus did His first miracle of turning water to wine, which was a thrill because I just taught on that at women’s Bible study at our church!

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Then saw Magdala where one of the Mary’s was from — complete with a Pizza Hut.

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Ate tilapia at Peter’s Fish Restaurant on the Sea of Galilee and then headed to a museum where a boat from Jesus’ day is preserved.  So cool!

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Then…  on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  How did I come to be in this sacred place?  It’s more than my heart and head can comprehend.  How great is our God.

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We then arrived at a hotel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, had beautiful dinner, and searched for shells along the shore as the sun went down.

Exhausted from the oppressive heat.  Filled up to the brim in my heart.  So glad to experience this with my sweetheart.

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I’ve got to get ready!  I’m getting baptized in the Jordan River today!!

 

 

Finally Made It

Some things are hard to get to, but when you do get there, it makes it all the more sweeter.

We are finally in Israel!  Even though we had the longest line in the history of airports for check-in, and even though our check-in counter lady told us twice that we were cancelled on the flights, and even though we hit another crazy long line at security and we had to run to our gate, only to find there was a delay in boarding….

We are here!  I can’t wait to share about our journey.  I’ll blog as I’m able.  For now, I must say that a highlight for me was on the flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Tel Aviv.  I sat next to an older gentleman from Israel whose eyes danced when we talked.  On the other side of me was a younger gentleman from Germany who was reading a book called “Psycho Killer” and downing drinks.  I chose to talk to the Israeli man.

When I told my friend on the plane about our Uganda ministry he said, “That’s one of the reasons I love Americans.  You people are so good about doing good things like that.  You are so generous.”

We talked about different parts of the world, Trump (of course), his family in the U.S., and more.

When we landed, this man said, “Welcome to Israel.”

How perfect.

Isaac from Israel welcomed me to Israel.  And I felt thankful and thrilled for our great God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who grafted me into this family.

I told Isaac, “I can’t believe I’m here!”

And he said to me, “Believe it.  This is the land for believing.”

 

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“I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

– Matthew 22:32 (NIV)

 

~ Susie Stewart