Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Israel Virtual Tour 2014 - Day 4 - The Golan Heights

            Today we drove to the northern most tip of Israel. We visited a nature preserve called Tel Dan. This is where the Northern tribes of Israel built an imitation temple, so they would not have to travel to Jerusalem to worship. We took a beautiful hike through tall trees, forests and streams to get to the site of the unearthed alter, part of the imitation temple. There was a spring of water flowing that was part of the start of the water that flows into the Jordan River.
Walking through Tel Dan Nature Preserve. Beautiful!

The imitation alter, part of a temple, found in northern Israel, in Dan.

            Close by Tel Dan, we came to an area called Banias. We walked to a cut out cave in the side of the mountain. This was where the Israelites, who were not following the Lord, would worship the half goat half man pagan god, Pan. They would sacrifice babies to this pagan god until the river flowed red with blood. It was a powerful lesson on spiritual warfare. There were niches cut in the side of the mountain where they would place statues of the idols they worshiped. I couldn’t help but think, what modern day idols could be placed there? 

Pagan worship to the god Pan. Can you see the 3 niches cut out on the right? Idols were placed there.

       Jesus referred to this place as “the gates of hades/hell”. He took his disciples here and asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus told him, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
            Next we drove to the largest of the crusader castles, set high on a mountaintop, close to Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in the country and the only one that gets snow. Nimrod’s castle, built by the crusaders in the 13th century, is huge, 420 meters by 150 meters, and well preserved. 
Largest crusader castle, Nimrod's fortress.

On the top of the Golan Heights at Nimrod's castle, view looking west.
           Driving back down the steep mountain, our Israeli guide, Yoni, gave us details on the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur war in modern Israel. We were all mesmerized as he told some unbelievable details and how, as he put it, “the God factor” could not be missed. It confirmed again how the Lord has His hand on Israel and protects her. Israel is such a small country compared to her enemies, that without the Lord’s protection, the state of Israel would not exist. We drove to the Golan Heights and looked over into Syria. Along the way we stopped at some abandoned tanks, and more evidence of the strong need for aggressive security here.
My boys on an abandoned tank from the Yom Kippur war.

            We had lunch in a Druze village in northern Israel. It was described as “Israeli fast food”. We were told it had the best falafels in Israel, and they were the best we have eaten so far. They also had something we had never had before called labne. A –ma –zing! Is all I can say to describe it. It was a large, thin tortilla like pita flatbread, spread on top with fresh yogurt cheese, olive oil and herbs. Then it was wrapped and folded and heated on a grill. Someone described it as an Israeli grilled cheese. Yummy! It tasted like an exotic crepe with crème cheese.
At a Druze village in the Golan Heights eating labne, cheese filled pita, yummy middle eastern goodness!

                       Israeli 'fast food' lunch: salad bar at every restaurant. Falafel in the bowls at the top. Labne on the grill at the end of the salad bar.

            On the drive back to the Galilee area, we stopped at our friend Rami and Gabi’s house. (touryourroots.com) She is an artist and they have a gallery with art made by Messianic Jews living in the area. They had coffee and drinks for us as we sat on their large patio, overlooking an incredible view of the Sea of Galilee, as she played her harp and sang for us. The harp has such a calming affect on people. She plays for groups and sometimes for Holocaust survivors. It was a special way to end our day, and our time in the Galilee area. 
Gabi playing the harp, on her porch overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

With our friend, Rami.

            We have enjoyed our time in this area immensely. Vince and I are torn between wishing we could spend more time here because it is so beautiful, and wanting to go to the next place because there is so much more to see and do here.
Our last dinner at this beautiful location by the Sea of Galilee.

If you missed the previous days, click here for Day 1, or Day 2, or Day 3.

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