After exactly one hour of sleep in the hotel last night, we woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning in Tel Aviv. This was our view from the hotel room – we didn’t realize last night it was a room with an ocean view.
“What are the different names you know for this area?” our guide, Marlin Vis, asked the group as we ventured out this morning. We called out our answers. “The Holy Land” is apparently something only Christians call it and Jewish people in the tourist industry. There are many other things the Holy Land is called – “Promised Land”, “Israel”, or simply “The Land” – all these things mean something different to different people. But the name this area has been known for and called the longest in over 2,000 years of history?
We started out at the ruins at Caesarea Maritime this morning which were built by Herod the Great – the same Herod who went after all the infant boys in The Land when he got word that the Messiah had been born.
This theater faced West which means the sun came up behind us and we looked out from our seats over the Mediterranean Sea. While we sat there we read the stories from the book of Acts which took place in this location.
One of those stories was the conversion of Cornelius – a Gentile whose conversion account in Acts 10 reminds each of us that we are each Gentiles too. We tend to forget that our faith belonged to an entire people before it was ever ours. We are not first but rather we are caught up in an adoptive history that becomes our shared story. It is in stories like these that we remember and find our roots.
Just one tidbit of wisdom tossed our way today:
“Under the surface of mere words of Scripture is a perspective that is actually closer to the truth.” In other words, history gets written from the point of view from the people in power, but basically there are always two (or more) sides to every story and when each side gets heard the closer to the truth one can arrive.
The second place we visited was Tel Megiddo, which happens to be the area where more battles have been fought than any other place in history. It is located in a very strategic crossroads. Many of the ancient Biblical sites were located in man-made hills called a “Tel”, which were fortified and equipped with water supply, gates, high walls, and other protective measures. The Tel was a usually a city, and before the Israelites each such city had a King. The city contained the palaces and houses of the citizens, as well as their armies.
As cultures evolved and changed civilizations would build new cities over, above, or in addition to the previous one. Megiddo is the oldest Tel in the country, going back 5000 years and records show it contains 32 layers of civilizations! King Solomon once occupied Tel Megiddo.
Finally, our last outing today included a hike on Mount Carmel, “Elijah’s Mountain”, where he and God had the showdown with King Ahab and his idol god with fire raining down from heaven (I Kings 18).
This was like hiking through rock slides…my feet still hurt. We were met with great views and interesting encounters along the way.
This is a long post so with apologies I’ll give you a preview of what’s scheduled for tomorrow.
We are actually staying tonight and the next two nights at a hotel that is “lakefront” to the Sea of Galilee. I just told my friend Jared that I’m going to attempt walking out onto the lake since this trip is about walking in the footsteps of Jesus….
We are also heading to:
The Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5)
The Church of Multiplication – think loaves and fishes, not the church that just like math a lot. (Mark 6:30-44)
Peters Primacy / Reinstatement as chief apostle (John 21)
A boat ride on the Jordan River (Joshua 3)
As for tonight, we’re looking forward to our first full night’s sleep since leaving Tuesday. Some of us are going on between 1-7 total hours of sleep in the last three nights. I’m surprised most of us are at all coherent, but rest assured we’re having a good time still.
Thanks for all the prayers and the love!