Travel through Galilee
In Tel Aviv, we meet our guide who assists us through customs and security. We transfer to our motor coach for a short drive to our hotel in Netanya in time for our dinner and overnight. In the morning we depart for the Galilee, visiting the following Biblical sites: Caesarea where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion (Acts 10), Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel where Elijah prayed and God defeated 450 prophets of Baal with fire from heaven (1 Kings 18). Time permitting, we’ll stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break (not included). We continue to Nazareth (Luke 1 & 2), include a visit to the Nazareth Village with detailed explanations of what life was like during the time of Jesus, and stop in Cana (John 2). While in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding reception, those who would like to will have the opportunity to renew their marriage vows. We’ll arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. We begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), with time for reflection and a short devotional study. From here we make our way to Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry). Then we board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We include a visit to the Jesus Boat Museum, where we have an opportunity to view a recently excavated boat that dates back to the time of Jesus. Our lunch stop includes the option of the special St. Peter’s Fish for those interested (not included). Afterwards, we make our way to Gadara and then to the River Jordan for the opportunity to be baptized in that special river. Dinner and overnight are in Tiberias.
Experience the Holy City
After breakfast, we travel to Gideon Springs. Then we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. In Beit Shean, the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls after they were defeated by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10-12). We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to Bethlehem. We then ascend to the majestic city of Jerusalem. The remaining sightseeing of the day is to be determined by our pastor and tour guide. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2 NASB).We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage proceeds down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24:18-25). On this site now stands the El-Aqsa Mosque and the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam). From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate to walk the Via Dolorosa – including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a short walk takes us to stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area, the Southern Steps. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we return to the Western Wall to visit the Rabbi’s Tunnel. Following breakfast, we visit sites in Jerusalem that will be determined by our pastor and tour guide. Then we have an afternoon at leisure in Jerusalem prior to dinner and overnight at our hotel. After breakfast we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We will be fascinated by the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Next, we drive to the incredible archaeological find, the City of David. Afterwards, we have a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). Be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. (You can walk through the shaft if you don’t want to get wet!) If time permits, we will have a short visit to see the new excavation of the Pool of Siloam. Afterwards, we make our way to the Church of Agony at St. Peter Gallicantu. We visit Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship followed by overnight in Jerusalem.
Journey to the Wilderness
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing and drive to the Wilderness. The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region is a descent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop is at Masada, where we make our way to the fortress built by King Herod by way of cable car. Here we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, the synagogue, temples and palaces. From here we drive to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, a short drive takes us to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. We make a special stop at the Dead Sea (the lowest physical spot on earth) for a short swim/float. Time and conditions permitting, we’ll include a visit to the new baptismal site Qasr El-Yahud Baptismal Site, the newly excavated site where tradition believes Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Time permitting, we will have a short visit to Jericho followed by dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. We have a morning at leisure in Jerusalem. We depart Jerusalem late morning/early afternoon and begin our sightseeing with a drive to the Elah Valley, and the brook where David slew Goliath. From here we continue our drive to Jaffa for a special Farewell Dinner at the Old Men and the Sea Restaurant (or similar). We transfer to Ben Gurion airport for our flight back to the U.S.A.