March 12, 2015
Nothing like celebrating your birthday with 50 of your newest friends singing “Happy Birthday,” on the first official day of our tour!
We started the day off by heading to Caesarea (Acts 8:40; 21:8-9; Acts 10; Acts 23:22-26:32). On the way to the site our guide shared with us some facts about the land of Israel:
*This is the land God chose to make Himself known.
*We are pro-Israel but love Arabs, God created all and Christ died for all.*Evangelical Arab Christians are here and have the largest Christian school in the area.
When we arrived at Caesarea we are reminded that NOTHING in America is as old as the things we will see on this tour. The thing I loved the most on this stop was the theater Paul would have appealed to Agrippa in Acts 26:24-32. We are reminded in this passage that Paul used his personal testimony to appeal to Agrippa. We all have a personal testimony we can use to influence others. The photo below would have been Paul’s view from where he stood to face Agrippa. The steps leading up from the wooden platform would have been where the throne sat in the audience so they basically have a 50 yard line view of the stage.
Once we left Caesarea we proceeded to Mount Carmel. Fun fact about Mount Carmel is that Mark Twain visited in 1867 and referred to it as “God’s Vineyard.” This part of our trip is covered in olive trees and other fruit bearing trees. When we reached Mount Carmel our Missions Pastor, Doug Sarver read from 1 Kings 18:19-40 when Elijah contested the prophets of Baal there. When you are at the top of Mount Carmel you can see down to the Valley of Jezreel. God gave John a vision on the Island of Patmos establishing this valley as the site of the end-time Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Something else that is interesting about this valley is that around the turn of the century this valley was a swamp. God’s people began buying back portions from the Arabs. They began drying up the swamp land through drainage and the planting of Eucalyptus trees. Today this valley produces the highest volume of food per square foot in the world! In the photo below you can see how fertile the entire land is below Mount Carmel
After leaving Mount Carmel we headed to Megiddo, the royal city of Canaanites (Joshua 12:7, 21; Joshua 17:11). The University of Chicago did the major excavations in this area where a water shaft 120 feet deep was found and connected to a spring outside the walls of the city. This is where our guide, Avi, would have said, “People now think they are clever but they were clever back then too.”
The final stop for this day, before our hotel, was the city of Nazareth. This is what I will remember on my birthday. Nazareth is the place Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph, it is the place where Jesus attended school in the local synagogue (could you imagine being HIS teacher), and worshiped with His earthly family. It was in a small synagogue here that Chris read from Luke 4:16-31 and said, “From this small space in this small town the gospel came.” We all have our small roots we come from but God has great things in store for each of us no matter our background.
This was only the first day of all day touring! We learned so much yet still have so much to learn! I had a great birthday and will remember this day for a long time!