Enriching Journey through the Holy Land
In Tel Aviv, we meet our agent 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 dinner and overnight. This morning we depart for the Sea of Galilee, to visit Caesarea (where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion – Acts 10), Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel (where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18). Afterwards, we stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break (not included) and then continue to Nazareth (Jesus’ childhood home), Cana (location of Jesus’ first miracle – John 2), and the Mt. of Precipice. We then arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We begin the day by visiting Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. We then travel north to the Golan Heights for a beautiful landscape view of northern Israel. Then we head to Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16). We will also see the Banias waterfalls. Afterwards, we take a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam. We then proceed to the Sea of Galilee area for a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7) with time for reflection and a short devotional study. Our lunch stop has the option of the special St. Peter’s Fish for those interested (not included). From here, we make our way to Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry). If time permits, we will visit Tel Hatzor. Afterwards, we continue to view Gadara and end the day back in Tiberias for dinner and overnight. There is nothing like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from our hotel. In the morning, we board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We then visit the Jesus Boat Museum to view a recently excavated boat dating to the time of Jesus. Next, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons bodies were hung from the city walls after being defeated by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10-12). We proceed to Gideon’s Spring, where Biblical tradition says that God chose Gideon’s soldiers to fight the Midianites, according to the way they drank from the stream. We then ascend to the majestic city of 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).
Travel Down the Palm Sunday Road
After breakfast, we begin with a drive to the Wilderness. The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region descends 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop is Masada, we will travel by cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples, and palaces. We then drive to Qumran, the settlement of the first-century sect known as the Essenes, who authored 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. Conditions permitting, our tour will include a visit to Qasr El -Yahud, the newly excavated site where tradition states Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Here, we will have the opportunity to be baptized. Next, we will visit Jericho and if time permits, a stop at Wadi Qelt. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. After breakfast, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Here, we see the fascinating 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. We continue the visit in Jerusalem 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. Then we visit the Church of Agony where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate and walk the Via Dolorosa, which includes St. Anne’s Crusader Church, the Pool 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 Sepulcher followed by a short walk that takes us to the “Southern Steps,” the actual steps that Jesus climbed as he entered the Temple area. We have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we return to the Western Wall to visit the Rabbi’s Tunnel.
Explore Ancient Jerusalem
After breakfast, we drive to the City of David, an incredible archaeological find. We then take a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting). If you want to walk through the tunnel, be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you. For those who do not wish to get wet, the walk through the shaft is available. If time permits, we will have a short visit to the new excavations of the Pool of Siloam. From here, we make our way to the Church at St. Peter Gallicantu. We conclude our sightseeing at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship and communion. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. We will start our day with an early morning visit at the Temple Mount. We enter through the Zion Gate to the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple, the holiest site in the Jewish world. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24:18-25). On this site now stands El-Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock, the third holiest shrine in Islam. We then depart Jerusalem late morning/early afternoon and begin our sightseeing with a drive to Bethlehem. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and visit the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s Field. From Bethlehem, we will continue to Nabi Samuel park. Our sightseeing continues with a drive to the Elah Valley and the brook where David slew Goliath. From here, we drive back to our hotel in Jerusalem for our last dinner and overnight.