Welcome to Israel
Our journey of a lifetime begins when we depart the USA on an overnight international flight. Welcome to Israel! Upon arrival at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport, we will go through customs and security, then meet our guide who assists us to our motor coach. We will drive to our Dead Sea hotel for dinner and overnight. This morning we can enjoy a float in the renowned salt and mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea. Next, we will ascend Masada, the spectacular mountaintop fortress of Herod the Great. We take the cable car to the top to explore the site of the last stand of the Jewish rebellion. Next we visit the oasis at Ein Gedi, where David hid from Saul. At Qumran, we learn of the Essenes, the mysteries sect that authored the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we make our way up to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. We start the day on the Mt. of Olives to take in the iconic view of the Old City! From there, we walk down the Palm Sunday Path to the Garden of Gethsemane & the Church of All Nations. Next, we pray alongside the Jewish faithful at the Western Wall. Then we get a whole new perspective underground in the Western Wall Tunnels. Conditions permitting, we will walk on the Temple Mount – where the Jewish Temple once stood, and the gold Dome of the Rock & Al Aqsa Mosque now stand. We exit the Temple are near the Lion’s Gate to walk the Via Dolorosa – the “Way of Suffering”. This walk includes stops at 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. Finally, we conclude our day at the Southern Steps – the original steps Jesus climbed to enter the Temple. We return to our Jerusalem hotel for dinner and overnight.
Visit the Birthplace of Jesus
Today we visit the excavations at the City of David, including Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Make sure you have a flashlight and water shoes for the tunnel! (Those wanting to stay dry may walk through Hezekiah’s Shaft). Next, we see the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a blind man. Next is the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built of what is believed to be the House of Caiaphas where Jesus was held prisoner. At the Israel Museum we see the Shrine of the Book Dead Sea Scroll exhibit as well as the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. Finally, we gather at the Garden Tomb for communion as we reflect on the agony of the crucifixion and the joy of the resurrection! We return to our Jerusalem hotel for dinner and overnight. Today we visit Bethlehem, where Jesus humbly entered the world as a baby. We will look out over the Shepherds’ Field, recalling the awe of the shepherds when the angels appeared. Next, we visit Church of the Nativity, the oldest functioning church in the world, built over the cave traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. While in Bethlehem we will also visit an Olive Wood Workshop and have some time for shopping. We return to our Jerusalem hotel for dinner and overnight. This morning we bid Jerusalem farewell. First, we stop in the wilderness of Wadi Kelt and then make our way north through the Jordan Valley. We visit the ruins of Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Roman Decapolis cities. We also visit Gideon’s Spring before making our way to our next hotel for dinner and overnight near the Sea of Galilee.
Set Sail Across the Sea of Galilee
Today we travel north through the Golan Heights to take in the landscape of northern Israel. We visit Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16). Next we embark on a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam. Then we spend some time in worship at the Mt. of Beatitudes reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount. At nearby Tabgha, we visit the Church of the Primacy of Peter. Today we also explore ancient Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee. We return to our Galilee hotel for dinner and overnight. This morning we visit the recent excavations at Magdala, including a synagogue from the time of Jesus. Next, we will set sail across the Sea of Galilee for a very special time of worship on the water. In Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, we will stand on the Mt. of Precipice where Jesus was rejected by those in the synagogue. At Megiddo, we will see the layers of 20+ cities excavated at the site, which looks out over the Valley of Armageddon. We make our way to the port city of Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean shore. It was here Peter proclaimed good news to the Centurion, and where Paul was held before being taken to Rome for trial. We transfer to our Tel Aviv area hotel for our final dinner and overnight. Today we transfer to the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport and make the journey home, filled with memories and a faith forever changed by our adventure together in the land of the Lord!