Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
We arrive in Tel Aviv, where we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. (Time permitting) We transfer to our motor coach and visit Jaffa and Caesarea Maritima, where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion (Acts 10). Next, we drive to our hotel in Hadera for dinner and overnight by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Today, we depart for the Galilee, visiting 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). From here, we continue to Zippori (time permitting) and Nazareth (Luke 1 & 2), including a visit to “Nazareth Village” with detailed explanation of what it might have been like during the time of Jesus. Time permitting, we continue to Cana (John 2), where Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding reception. Next, we arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There is nothing quite like watching a sunrise from our hotel on the Sea of Galilee in the morning. We begin our sightseeing with our first stop at Magdala to see this new archeological site with the ancient synagogue, and then we drive to the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7), with time for reflection and worship. From here, we make our way to Capernaum, Jesus’ base for His early ministry. We will visit the recently excavated “Jesus Boat” which is believed to have been built during the time of Jesus. We then board a present time replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee. Next, we stop for lunch, with the option of the special, traditional St. Peter’s Fish (not included). Afterwards, we see Gadara and then make our way to the Jordan River with the opportunity to step into that special river. Optional Baptism in the Jordan River will be available for those interested. We will have dinner and overnight in Tiberias.
Swim & Float on the Dead Sea
After breakfast, we travel north for the Golan Heights to lookout over the area at an incredible sight. Then, we visit Tel Dan and have a short hike/walk where we will see the gate of Jeroboam. Then, we drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13- 16). Afterwards, we stop at Tabgha, the Church of Peter Primacy. Next, 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 (1 Samuel 31:10-12) after they were defeated by the Philistines. We return to Tiberias for dinner and overnight. After our breakfast, we begin our day of sightseeing traveling south toward the Dead Sea. En route we will make our first stop in Jericho (conditions permitting). From here, we make our way to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Following the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea, we will visit Masada. Here, we will ascend the wilderness mountain by way of the cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Next, we survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. We then proceed to our hotel at the Dead Sea for dinner and overnight. This morning we will have some free time to enjoy the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on the earth) for a short swim/float. Please be sure you bring with you good water shoes, as the bottom surface can be rough on your feet. Afterwards, we continue north for a visit to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. We leave the Dead Sea area for Jerusalem, an ascent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. “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 conclude our sightseeing with a short drive and visit to Bethlehem. We will pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, visit the Church of the Nativity and view the Shepherd’s Field. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem.
After breakfast, we begin explorations with a drive to the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove. There we will visit the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate, and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western Wall (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-Aksa 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 Sister of Zion Convent (to see the Pavement where Jesus stood as he was being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Afterwards, a short walk takes us to the Southern Steps to stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area. We will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner, we make our way back to the Western Wall for a visit to the Rabbi’s Tunnel. After breakfast, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. You will be fascinated by the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. From here, we have a short drive to Yad Vashem Children’s Holocaust Memorial for a visit. Next, we drive to Hezekiah’s Tunnel (conditions permitting) for an optional walk through the tunnel. Be sure to bring good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. Also bring a flashlight if possible. From here, we make our way to the Church of Agony at St. Peter Gallicantu. Afterwards, we visit Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for time of worship and communion. We overnight in Jerusalem. After breakfast, we have time at leisure then gather together for our last day of sightseeing in Israel with stops at additional sites of interest in Jerusalem to be determined by our tour leader. Later in the day, we will have our Farewell Dinner together at a restaurant, before returning to our hotel.
Optional Jordan Extension
This morning we depart Israel for Jordan via the Allenby Bridge, where we meet our agent and are assisted through security and customs. We board our motor coach to Madaba, the Moabite town of the Bible to see the Ancient Holy Land Map. Next, we travel to Machaerus (Mukawir). Perched on a 700-meter- high hill southwest of Madaba are the ruins of the fortress of Herod the Great. Machaerus is where John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas. We continue south to Petra, “the Red Rose City.” Dinner and overnight are in Petra. After breakfast, we visit Petra, a 2000-year-old Nabatean city. We’ll walk about a half-mile through the narrow passageway with cliffs on either side (called the “Siq”). At the end of the Siq appears Petra’s Treasury, a massive royal tomb carved out of the solid mountain rock. Time permitting, we will see Jabal Harun – the place where Aaron is buried. We then leave in the afternoon for Amman. Dinner and overnight are in Amman. This morning we travel to Mt. Nebo to view the Holy Land from where Moses stood (Deuteronomy 34:1), a breathtaking view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the Mt. of Olives and the roof tops of Jerusalem. We then return to the Allenby Bridge for our return to Israel. After our border formalities, we arrive back in Israel and continue with a visit to Jaffa. Then we have dinner and an evening transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for our return flight back to the U.S.A.