Well, we had another great day today in Israel. My facebook photo uploader isn't working right and wouldn't let me upload any photos. I'll try to get them up soon, b/c I saw some AWESOME sights and got some great pictures. Now, to share the day with you...
This morning, after breakfast, we checked out of our hotel in Tibereas and drove to the northernmost part of Israel, Tel Dan. It has Lebanon a few miles to its west and Syria a few miles to its east. It is the sight of the ruins of the capital city of the ancient tribe of Dan. The ruins are located in a nature reserve with the River Dan a tributary to the Jordan running through the middle of it. I got some great photos of the nature as well as the ruins. The nature reminded me alot of rural Tennessee! Just around the bend in the path from the ruins of Dan is an ancient Canaanite gate that dates back to the days of Abraham. It is believed to be the actual gate Abram entered when freeing Lot from his captors.
From there we travelled up the Golan Heights to the ancient city of Caesaria Philippi. We saw the ruins of an ancient pagan temple to the false god Pan. This was the sight where Peter made his great confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus went on to tell him, "Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." When you see the ancient sight which is a pagan temple where people and goats were sacrificed to the pagan god built into the side of a massive rock cliff by throwing them into a spring in a cave, you can almost see Christ giving us this great word picture..."Peter, you're this little rock (as he picks up a pebble from the spring, but I'm going to build my church on this massive rock (pointing to the cliff), and the gates of Hell (Pointing to the pagan temple) will not prevail against it! It is true what the early church Father Jerome said, "The Land is the 5th Gospel!" Being here really makes the Scriptures come alive!
From here we travelled South down the Jordan Valley to Gideon Spring located near the Hill Moreh. It was on this hill that the Midianites were encamped, and this spring is where God downsized Gideon's army to 300. God then used Gideon and his 300 to win a great victory over the Midianites.
We then went past Mt. Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, and we went to the Beit Shaan. Below the Tel Beit Shaan (sight of the ancient city) lie the ruins of the great Roman Outpost and capital of the Decapolis Scythopolis. It is the largest unearthed Roman City in the world outside of Italy. I sang again at the Amphitheater. It was unbelievable to see the mosaic side walks and marble store fronts. You could almost imagine the magnificence of the original city. Me and 5 others in the group then hiked about 200 stairs straight up the side of a mountain to Tel Beit Shaan. This is the ancient Phillistine city where they hung Saul's body on the wall. It was also conquered by Egypt in the 12th Century B.C. There was a statue of Ramses II and a stone containing heiroglyphics in that city. From the top of that mountain you could see the Armageddon Valley and Jordan Valleys. AMAZING!!!
We then continued South through the Jordan Valley into the West Bank and the City of Jericho. Our Jewish guide had to get out prior to Jericho b/c it's occupied by the Palestinian Authority. Our Arab driver did a great job at the Guard Post getting us into the city, and we were able to see the tree Zachaeus climbed to see Jesus when Jesus went to his house and brought salvation. We also saw the Mount of Temptation where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and the spring the prophet Elisha cured.
From there we went back and picked up our guide and journeyed to Jerusalem! We ascended the road from Jericho to Jerusalem! I thought of the Psalms of Ascent and how the people of God would quote them as they ascended the hills up to the City of God. "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth..." Psalm 121:1-2
As we entered through the tunnel into the city, we were able to see the Dome of the Rock on the left. What a sight and feeling! Now, we're here! It is so awesome to see the sights of where it all took place! It reaffirms my faith in the Word of God! It is true and can be trusted! I can't wait to get back and share my trip with you in person! The pictures will really make the Word come to life for you as well! May God bless and pray for my photo uploader! Heavenu Shalom Alechem!