Israel 2014 - Capernaum; Day 6

GALILEE -We begin the morning at the MOUNT OF BEATITUDES site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. 

The following descriptions in italics come from the webpage of Wayne Stiles, author of Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus. The photos are mine (Tim McKeown) from 2004.

The picturesque view from the Mount of Beatitudes offers visitors more than simply a beautiful view. It offers a place to consider truth taught there by One who knew it.

The Mount of Beatitudes marks the traditional location of the Sermon on the Mount. At the top of the slope, once called Mount Eremos, a modern church towers over area. The building’s eight sides commemorate the eight “beatitudes” that began Jesus’ celebrated Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10).

Tidy gardens descend to a small, covered, semicircular sitting area that overlooks the lake. It’s a great place to sit, read, pray—or just enjoy the view.
Then proceed to TABGHA (Peter’s Primacy) where Jesus met the disciples after His resurrection. 

Not many places in Galilee can genuinely claim to be the “'own of Jesus.” But every visitor who enters the ancient site of Capernaum passes a sign that makes that boast. And it’s right. To me, of all the Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee, this one tops the list.
"The New Testament records that after Jesus’ resurrection, He met Peter and some of the other apostles by the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23). Tradition identifies it as Tabgha—my favorite of all Christian sites around the lake.
"The site always greets me with a funny sign. It reads: “Holy place. No shorts.” And yet Peter fished half-naked here. Peter knew it well."
Then we visit CAPERNAUM, and the synagogue where Jesus preached. 
A stroll around the site reveals numerous archaeological treasures. Unquestionably, one of the greatest finds in Capernaum is the restored ancient synagogue.
  • Although the white marble ruins date later than the first century, they rest on top of the thick, black basalt foundation of the synagogue in the time of Jesus.
  • A number of historical and biblical events occurred in this synagogue. It’s mindboggling to walk in the space and imagine the conversations that occurred there, several of which Scripture records (Mark 1:21-27; John 6:35-59).
The site also preserves a first-century house, which most likely belonged to Peter.
We then see the JESUS BOAT, a 2,000 year old fishing boat and take our own BOAT RIDE on the sea of Galilee. 
The Sea of Galilee will give us a treasure one day,” one man told his brother. Turns out, he was right.

In 1986, Yuval and Moshe Lufan, two sons of a fisherman in Kibbutz Ginosar, were walking the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The drought that year dropped the level of the lake lower than the men had seen in years. One brother noticed something odd protruding from the mud.
It was an ancient nail. As he poked around with his finger, he found another one. Then another. More digging unearthed pieces of ancient wood.
While they didn’t realize it at the moment, they had discovered a fishing boat that dated to the time of Jesus.

The Ancient Boat’s Excavation
The necessary permits obtained, archaeologists set to work excavating the vessel. The manner of construction revealed a boat typical of the first century.
Assembled with mortise-and-tenon joinery, the boat was built from oak as well as the resilient cedars of Lebanon—wood highly impervious to rot.
The construction, the nearby pottery, and three independent carbon 14 dating examinations revealed that the boat dates from 100 BC to AD 70. Apparently, the original owners of the boat salvaged what they needed before scuttling the boat beneath the waves.

A Race Against Time and Elements
Archaeologists dug a trench around the remains while keeping the wood moist by spraying it with water.  If the soft, spongy timbers dried out, they would disintegrate. After bracing the boat with fiberglass, excavators sprayed on polyurethane foam that hardened around each crevice of the craft. Once dry, the foam served to support the fragile vessel as well as allow it to float.
Archaeologists flooded the trench, and the boat floated on the Sea of Galilee for the first time in two thousand years.
The process of preserving the boat occurred over the course of several years. Scientists soaked a synthetic wax into the pores of the planks. The wax stopped any further deterioration that would occur as the wood contacted the air.
A Museum for the Boat
Visitors can see this amazing find today in a state-of-the-art museum named in honor of the late Yigal Allon—a minister for Israel’s government, a Palmach officer, and a founding member of Kibbutz Ginosar.
The museum tells the story of the boat’s discovery through a video presentation, photos and descriptions, as well as a scale model of how the boat would have appeared in its prime.
We journey on to the GOLAN HEIGHTS to see the archaeological site of TEL DAN with a gate from Abraham’s time. 
Several peaks in northern Israel elevate the experience of all who see them. Exalted in beauty as well as in altitude, they offer panoramas both unique and enlightening.

The high ground in history has always proven the most sought-for, whether people have used the hills for worship or simply for military advantage.

Several summits in the Golan Heights offer beautiful panoramas and echoes of events in history that have proven significant—both in ancient and modern Israel.
Mount Hermon and Jesus’ High Point
Of all the peaks in the Golan Heights the most famous is also the highest in elevation. On a clear day, the snowcapped peaks of Mount Hermon can be seen for miles. Its sheer beauty has inspired the worship of both the godly and the pagan, with more than 20 temples of antiquity in the area.
  • The highest peak in Israel—at almost 7300 feet—Hermon offers the country’s only snow ski resort.
  • Hermon also has an off-road cycling park, a cable car, numerous Druze villages with black coffee, and picturesque views year-round.
The Scriptures picture Hermon as a metaphor of majesty, blessing, and beauty (Psalm 89:12; 133:3; Song of Solomon 4:8). With Caesarea Philippi at its base, Mount Hermon is likely the “high mountain” on which Jesus experienced His Transfiguration (Matthew 16:13; 17:1).
Mount Bental and the Valley of Tears
Providing one of the most picturesque views in Israel, the dormant volcano of Mount Bental offers an unrestricted view of Mount Hermon, the surrounding Golan Heights, and the mountains of Southern Lebanon.
  • The strategic lookout proved its worth in the 1973 Yom Kippur war when a badly outnumbered Israeli army defeated the Syrian army in the one of the largest tank battles in history.
  • Because of the heavy losses the ground between Mount Bental and Mount Hermon became known as the “Valley of Tears.”
The visitors’ center atop Mount Bental offers an educational experience by means of an automated information system in the network of IDF bunkers and remaining trenches. Humorous scrap-iron sculptures bring a smile to visitors’ faces.
Quneitra Overlook and a Demilitarized Zone
The view from the vantage at the Quneitra Overlook allows visitors to see the border between Israel and Syria as well as a beautiful view of Mount Hermon.
  • At one time, Quneitra represented the largest Syrian city in the Golan and was home to the Syrian army. Since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the border between Israel and Syria has remained relatively calm.
  • In the demilitarized zone between the two nations, visitors can clearly see the United Nations camp.
Standing at the Quneitra Overlook allows one to imagine the determination Saul of Tarsus maintained in order to arrest Christians in Damascus, forty miles to the north (Acts 22:5-6).

We also will visit the high place of Jeroboam and CAESAREA PHILIPPI (palace of Herod Philip and Temple of Pan). 

Read 1 Kings 12:26-30.

By providing alternative places of worship, Jeroboam appealed to the laziness of the human spirit. Worshipping at Tel Dan was far more luxurious than Jerusalem. And worshipping at Bethel was more convenient. Substituting the priests, the feast, the places—all were outside of God’s will.

The world, the flesh, and the devil will always tempt us with Jeroboam’s words: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem!” Sin always provides a substitute more convenient and more attractive to our flesh.

Three simple examples:
  1. A closer church—but it doesn’t teach the Bible accurately.
  2. An attractive or clever spouse—who isn’t a Christian.
  3. A lucrative vocation—that requires moral compromise.
Our relationship with God must remain a matter of obedience before convenience. In the end, we find it far more satisfying.
In a land where water is life, it’s no wonder one of the major sources of water would become a primary place of worship.

Regrettably, the god worshipped at Banias was not the God of Israel.

What an absolutely beautiful area! The flowing streams and the nearby waterfalls offer some of the most pleasant and inviting surroundings for tours, holidays, and family outings.

But that’s not why Jesus came here.

The god Pan Worshipped at Banias

The melting snows at the peak of Mount Hermon seep into the ground and appear at its base. From the mouth of a large cave bubbles a cold, clear stream that helps to form the headwaters of the Jordan River. Josephus referred to the streams that flow here as the fountain of the Jordan.

Archaeology has uncovered an open-air shrine above the cave from which the water flows. Niches still visible in the side of the cliff held statues of the Greek god Pan—the mythical half man, half goat who played the panpipe.

We then go for a baptismal service at YARDENIT and return to the Caesar Premier beside the Sea of Galilee.

The Jordan River, in which John the Baptist baptized his cousin Jesus of Nazareth, is a river in Southwest Asia which flows into the Dead Sea. It is considered to be one of the world’s most sacred rivers.
It originates approximately 200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, Israel. It ends its course at the lowest spot in the world, the Dead Sea, at 420 meters below sea level. Along its course, the Jordan feeds two lakes: the Hula (now almost completely drained) and the Sea of Galilee. In its course from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the Jordan travels a winding 230 kilometers, covering just 105 kilometers in a straight line.

Numerous references to the Jordan River appear both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, indicating its biblical importance and
sanctity. In fact, the Jordan River is mentioned about 175 times in the Old Testament and about 15 times in the New Testament. The word Jordan comes from the Hebrew word ‘yarden’ meaning descender. This name is appropriate for the river that courses from the heights of Mt Hermon to the depths of the Dead Sea.
(Source: click here)


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