Encountering the Biblical Holy Land
In Tel Aviv, we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We transfer to our luxury motor coach for a short drive to our hotel in Netanya in time for dinner. You will want to rise early! We are on the Mediterranean Sea, where the views are stunning! Today, we depart for the Galilee, visiting Biblical sites. First is Caesarea, where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion and later where Paul made his appeal to Rome, and we visit Herod’s Aqueduct. Next, we drive up Mt. Carmel to see where Elijah brought down the fire of God. From there, we look over the Valley of Armageddon. We will stop at Tel Megiddo to see an ancient site from Old Testament times. Then, we go on to Nazareth to visit a remarkable newly authenticated site, the boyhood home of Jesus! We visit the massive Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Sisters of Nazareth Convent and the Church of Nutrition. Then, we make our way to Cana. Those who are traveling with their spouses will have an opportunity to renew their vows at this beautiful church. We’ll arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight at our hotel right on the Sea of Galilee. This morning, you will see the sun rise over the the Sea of Galilee. It is a spectacular site. Most of today will be exploring the ministry locations of our Lord around the Sea of Galilee. Places you have heard and read about will come to light: Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Magdala (discovered only a few years ago), Mt. of Transfiguration, the site of the First Breakfast (John 21), and the Sea of Galilee itself. We will be on a boat that day… on the Sea…reading, studying, and reflecting on the ministry of Jesus where he did his ministry. Then, we visit Magdala, and, if we have time, we will go to city of Sephoris, where it is likely Joseph and Jesus worked during his early years! His humanity and his divinity will be brought into our focus in an unforgettable way. We end our day with a dinner and overnight at our hotel in Tiberias.
Visit the Epicenter of Christian Faith
After breakfast, we drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made his faith confession. We will have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we will see the gate of Jeroboam. Afterwards, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. Here, the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls after they were defeated by the Philistines. On the way, we will stop at Jericho and visit the original (and newly opened) baptismal site of our Lord along the Jordan. Each of us will take the occasion to renew our own baptismal vows. It is not to be missed. Next, we stop on the way to the majestic city of Jerusalem and look at the ancient monastery of St. George’s at the Wadi Qelt. The quiet, vast expanse of the Judean desert will leave a lasting impression on you. As we enter the Eternal City of Jerusalem, you will notice something. It is quiet. It is the Sabbath. This religious city is observing its Biblical customs. We have dinner and overnight at our hotel near the Jaffa Gate. We begin this day, Sunday, with a visit to the epicenter of the Christian faith, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The church will be mostly ours to explore in these early morning hours. This is the site of the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Centuries of faith and belief are covered this church in layers of candle soot, smells and ornamentation, but it is quite moving to be there. Our pilgrimage will continue along the Palm Sunday Road beginning at the Mount of Olives and continuing to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive groves. We will have a special Eucharist this day in a beautiful, private setting near the Garden next to the Church of the Agony (Church of All Nations). We will enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and walk to the holiest site in the entire Jewish world, the Western Wall of Herod’s temple (Wailing Wall). From the temple area, we walk to St. Stephen’s Gate, St. Anne’s Church, and the Pools of Bethesda from John 5. Amazed by this day, we will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Float on the Dead Sea
The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region is a decent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop will be at Masada, where we will make our way by cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples, and palaces. Next, we drive to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. A short drive takes us to Qumran, the location of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery. Afterwards, we follow the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea. We will make a special stop at the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on earth) for a short swim. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem.
After breakfast, we continue to the Israeli Museum where we will see a fascinating scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. We will be at the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Next, we will go back to the Old City again and spend time in the archaeological excavations along the ancient temple steps. Then we will take a breathtaking tour of the Western Wall through its archeological tunnels. The beauty of the city, the complexity of the site, and the achievements of the ancient builders will make for an unforgettable day. We will stop at St. Peter Gallicantu and the ancient Roman steps outside the house of Caiaphas. We are certainly following in the footsteps of Jesus. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. This is a day like none other. We will have time to make our way to Bethlehem to visit the oldest church in the world, the Church of the Holy Nativity. We will be able to get into the grotto cave where Jesus was born. When we read the Christmas story in Luke 2, it is permanently imprinted in our minds. We have been where Jesus was born. We visit the Cave of St. Jerome as well. Afterwards, we visit the Shepherd’s Field and Church. Then, we make time to climb up the Herodian, a literally Herod-made mountain, where he interrogated the Magi. In the afternoon, we leave Jerusalem for a visit in the ancient port of Joppa near Tel Aviv, before returning to Jerusalem for our farewell dinner and overnight.