Monday, May 16, 2016

Israel : Holy Land Adventures 2016

The Jordan River

A super amazing, once in a lifetime adventure opportunity was opened up to me at the beginning of the year. I am still trying to grasp the fact that I ACTUALLY WENT!!!! It still seems unreal! It was by far one of the most exhilarating trips that I have been on. Visiting Israel was amazing, and honestly, I believe that is has changed my perspective on how I view the bible. I don't really have the words to describe the impact that this trip has had on me. One of the things that I can say, is that my bible reading and knowledge of the word is now much more personable and relatable.

We drove through some of the rockiest and most desert like terrain I have ever seen. If this is what the wilderness looked like when Moses and the children of God left Egypt and wandered around for 40 years, I can definitely see how they became restless and began their murmurings! Deep down between the mountains there is a stream that flows. How anyone ever gets down to it? I have no idea. I got to see a scorpion creeping his way around the rubble, and some of the ever elusive deer. 

The Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee
The sea of Galilee was breathtaking! There was always a sort of mist or fog covering the sea, especially in the early mornings and late evenings. We rode a replica of a boat that Jesus would have ridden and as you looked out over the water, it was so easy to picture Jesus walking towards you. I just felt so connected and close to Him, knowing that he was here in the flesh years ago!

Synagogue in Capernaum 

Capernaum is the small fishing town where Jesus performed most of his miracles during his ministry. Knowing that Jesus had walked down these same paths, he prayed in this same temple (at the street level below this synagogue pictured), and resided in the homes right outside! How can you put that into words? Its awe inspiring and I am just so so thankful that I was able to experience it all.

Did I mention the food?? 
Everything was kosher and always 100% delicious! Shwarma, falafel, and schnitzel, we had it all!

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was a pagan god's temple (Pan, god of panic and fright), with a deep cave that used to have a temple built in front of it. The ruins are still there and you can see the altars where idols would have stood. This was one of the darkest places in Israel, with all sorts of rituals and even human sacrifices being thrown into the cave. Jesus walked by there with his disciples when he asked them "who do men say that I am?" , and when he spoke to Peter and said "upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". The cave is now often referred to as the gates of hell. 

Matthew 16:13-19

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Going up to Masada
The Western/Wailing Wall
Watching the dedication and respect that people had for this place was indescribable. We visited this place for the first time at night, when we were the only tourists there. I literally stood there for over an hour in the windy night just watching from the dividing wall behind them. You could hear the men singing hymns in Hebrew, chanting prayers, and children playing in the background. It was such a special moment, I know I will always cherish.

Jesus' tomb

He is risen!
The visit to the garden tomb and the garden of Gethsemane were unlike what I would have imagined. The word garden I learned, refers to anything related to agriculture. The garden of Gethsemane is actually an olive tree grove. Olive trees are very resilient, and some of the ones in the garden may be centuries old! We prayed in the garden and had a communion service that I will never forget. The location of the garden tomb was at some point a vineyard. As we stepped into the tomb I couldn't stop thinking "this is it!", but even more exciting was the fact that he is no longer there! He is risen! Gone away to prepare a place for you and me! A place where there are no tears, no aches, and everything is drenched in his marvelous light! A place I cannot wait to see!