Almost 20 years ago, when I was in college, I signed up for a month-long study trip to Israel. As my excitement increased, so did the volatility in the Middle East, and my pilgrimage to the Holy Land was cancelled…or delayed.
Our shattered hopes were quickly restored when we were informed that we could travel through Turkey and Greece in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul instead! This was serendipitous for me, as my faith and interested in the Bible had been recently ignited and deeply shaped by reading about Paul’s missionary journeys in the Acts of the Apostles. Now I was about to trace his steps!
Looking back, that was a remarkable journey but with one major limitation: I was 21 and had only been studying the Bible for a couple years. I hope to make that journey again with my subsequent 20 years of study and knowledge to fatten the experience.
Tomorrow, after a 20 year delay, I will get on a plane for Israel and at last I will walk where Jesus walked (and have the opportunity to preach where Jesus preached on the Mount of Beatitudes). The trip is part of my doctoral program and I will be with a group of 50 or so people from Northern Seminary (Chicago). For the past twenty years I have been getting the Holy Land inside me through my studies and ministry experience, and now its time for me to go inside the Holy Land!
For those who are interested, the itinerary and places I will be visiting are listed below if you want to keep track of where I am each day. I appreciate your prayers as I embark on this pilgrimage 20 years in the making. As an added bonus, I will be accompanied by my two best friends, Peter and Graham. We truly anticipate this will be the trip of a lifetime!
Now to pack…
Thu Feb 6, 2020 – Introduction and light touring to include Beit Shemesh, Elah Valley and parts of Beit Guvrin (because they have picnic tables for lunch box). Continue to Herod’s Hotel, Tel Aviv…time and energy permitting perhaps also a Jaffa overview.
Fri Feb 7 – Coastal Plains to the Galilee –Caesarea Marittima, Mt Carmel, Jezreel Valley, Nazareth overview…time permitting also Sephorris/Tzippori. First of 3 overnights at the Magdala Hotel, Sea of Galilee
Sat Feb 8 – Upper Galilee and Golan – Tel Hazor, Tel Dan and nature reserve, Banyas Falls (Caesarea Philippi)
Sun Feb 9 – Around the Sea of Galilee. Morning for sites such as Tabgha, Capernaum, traditional Beatitudes, Chorazim…followed by lunch on the eastern side at En Gev (St Peter’s fish option booked at 13:00), boat ride from En Gev to Ginosar (booked at 14:00), ancient boat museum… Final night at Magdala Hotel. This hotel is located at the site of the recent synagogue discovery, we all now call it the Magdala Synagogue.
Mon Feb 10 – Jordan Valley to Jericho and the Dead Sea. Sites to possibly include: Beit Shean (Scythopolis), Tel Jericho and overnight on the Dead Sea at the Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel. The hotel also includes swimming pools and a spa with pools of heated Dead Sea water. The Dead Sea public beach across the street does not close.
Tue Feb 11 – Masada cable car (booked at 08:40…they can be flexible), Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, and a broad overview of the Wadi Kelt so that people can appreciate the 18 miles of wilderness between Jerusalem and Jericho.
Wed Feb 12 – City of David with film, overview and optional tunnels (either Hezekiah’s wet tunnel or an older dry tunnel option). Western Wall Tunnel; Davidson’s Center (also called the Southern Wall Excavations).
Thu Feb 13 – Temple Mount; Via Dolorosa; Yad ve Shem (Holocaust Memorial)
Fri Feb 14 –Church of Holy Sepulcher; Western Wall Virtual Reality; Wohl Arch Museum (also called Herodian Estates Museum) underneath the Jewish Quarter; Visit to Bethlehem; Shepherd’s Fields and parts of Bethlehem.
Sat Feb 15 –Mt. of Olives, Gethsemane, Israel Museum; The Garden Tomb tour and communion