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Let it begin…

February 19, 2011

Ah, daylight.  Our first chance to see some of the sights we’ve been studying so long.  As we began our journey on Friday morning I couldn’t help but get excited just to be seeing the land and getting a feel for the atmosphere.  As we drove southwest tour guide Jimmy shared with us all kinds of information about what we were seeing, which mountain was in the distance, and the significance of every little place we passed.  It was fascinating and overwhelming all at once, and I can tell why people immediately say they want to come back to the Holy Land again and again.  You just can’t take it all in at once.

As we drove through different towns there was a mountain on our right known as Mt. Tavor.  This was believed to be the sight of Jesus’ transfiguration.  It is the highest mountain in Israel and you could easily see why Jesus wouldn’t have taken all the disciples up there with him…it looked like quite a trek.  The hill was huge and I’m sure the view on top was spectacular, not to mention the amazing things that happened to Jesus up there.  I can imagine once you’ve climbed this mountain, you would easily want a rest.  Yet Jesus had things to do, as did the disciples, and we all know that you can’t live on the mountaintop.

Our first stop was at Caesarea where we explored the ruins of the theater, found pieces of old Byzantine pottery and mosaic, and checked out the arena where the chariot races were held.  Next were the Aqueducts and a chance to splash around in the Mediterranean Sea.  This was a highlight as we stood by the beautiful waters and felt the cool waves splash up around us.

After some more driving we took a quick stop on the side of the road in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.  There was a first century Jewish burial tomb with the circular stone propped up next to it.  This is probably close to what Jesus’ tomb would’ve looked like, with extra entrances having been carved out at a later time.  The next destination was Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley, which was a great archeological sight remembering the trade routes and many battles.  You could see most of Israel from the top, including many different mountain ranges and Nazareth in the background.

Like I said, it was a lot to take in all at once, and with Jimmy pointing out something new every moment it really was too much to remember.  As one leader from another group pointed out: “I’ll give you the short version…it’s all really really old.”  So instead of acting like I was cramming for a test (been there, done that) I had to simply allow myself to experience it.  What sticks will stick, and what doesn’t I’m sure I’ll learn again at some other point.  But for now I’m happy simply to marvel in the fascination of it all.


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