Friday, June 6, 2014

Israel Virtual Tour Day 1

          After anticipating the previous week’s hot weather in Israel, we were pleasantly surprised to wake up to hazy, overcast skies, in the ocean side town of Natanya. It was cool, with a slight salty breeze that felt refreshing since most of our group were desert dwellers from New Mexico. The haze prevented the sun from being too hot, and the cool weather stayed with us all day.

View from the hotel in Natanya looking at the Mediteranean Ocean.

            Our first stop was the seaport village of Caesarea Maritime, built by Herod the Great, to impress the Romans. Vince taught in the large outdoor Roman theater. Paul was imprisoned here, possibly in Herod’s palace prison, before he was sent to Rome. Before Paul took the Good News to the Gentiles, Jesus had been almost exclusively the Messiah for the Jews. Paul was the first to say Jesus had also come for the Gentiles and the message of salvation was to be spread to “the ends of the earth”, and not kept only in Jerusalem. Vince shared how we, as Gentiles, have been grafted in to the family of Abraham, and how we need to appreciate our Jewish roots. When we adopted our twin boys, we introduced them to their entire extended family, and how they were permanently part of our family. That is how it is when Gentiles receive the Jewish Messiah. We are adopted in to the family of God.
Caesarea by the Sea, built by Herod the Great.

            Next we drove to a tall hill, called Tel Megiddo. A tel is a place where ancient cities were built on top of each other. We overlooked the valley of Megiddo. The area is more familiar to us as Armageddon. The lesson there was, we don’t know when the Messiah is returning, and are we ready for His return?
Vince teaching about the end times at Tel Megiddo.
            Close by was Mount Carmel. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Mount Carmel is where the prophet Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to a contest. The Lord rained down fire from heaven to prove that only He is the one, true God. It was also on this mountain where Elijah prayed seven times for God to bring rain, and finally after the seventh time, he could see a tiny rain cloud, far in the distance, over the Mediterranean Ocean. It showed how powerful God is to answer with fire from heaven, and to bring rain after a three-year drought. It also showed how God answers differently to our different prayers. Sometimes He answers immediately, in a huge way, and sometimes the answer seems very small, way off in the distance. Elijah asked the people how long they would waver between two opinions. The Lord still asks us that today: How long are we going to believe God, but also do whatever we want?
Elijah on Mount Carmel killing a false prophet of Baal.

            Our last stop of the day was in the old Village of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. There were men and women dressed in first century attire, showing how life was during Jesus time in Nazareth. We saw a first century stone wine press, where women would walk on the grapes with their bare feet, so as not to break the seeds inside the grapes, and cause the juice to be bitter. We saw a man threshing wheat with a stone grinder, and separating the wheat from the chaff. We also saw an old shepherd who let our group hold the thirteen-day-old baby goats.
Holding a baby goat in the Nazareth Village, with Jacob the Shepherd.

            After a great day of touring, the group is tired, but so grateful to be in the land where Jesus walked. We are looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

For Day 2 of the virtual tour of Israel click here.


  1. Thank you for sharing not only your story, but also the Bible stories. It's so amazing to discover the places you are visiting and what happened there historically.

  2. This is Deborah's sister. I am enjoying reading your commentary and seeing your photos to accompany Deborah's emails. I won't get to see her photos until you all get back. Have a great trip!

  3. I'm glad you are enjoying it Carla!

  4. Hi Susan! Deborah told me you found my blog. I just took some pics of Deborah and Mark and will try to post them next time just for you. :)

  5. Thank you so much Robyn for giving us this virtual tour and sharing the history. Love it! Have a wonderful trip with your dear family. Looking forward seeing and learning more!

  6. Thanks Laura! I'm glad you are enjoying it!