In Galilee we had cheese and fish for breakfast. Ramat is located on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, on the northwest corner of the Golan Heights. Gadara is at the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee. [We left Gadara by boat and crossed the Sea of Galilee. The previous evening, my pastor Bill Grimes, assigned me to preach the Gospel on the boat as we crossed over the Sea of Galilee. I selected the title: “Jesus Walking On The Water, A Challenge To Our Faith.” Matthew 14:22-33. 12/30/1987. Interestingly, our Jewish boat and tour guides, peeked around the corner and took in every word I said. The Jewish people from Israel are often curious about the Gospel, observing firsthand how born again Christians drop millions and billions of dollars in order to visit their land! This caption is typed in red because it was not in my original journal.] As we left our hotel and entered our boat, we proceeded clockwise around the Sea of Galilee, to the east, and we encountered a rocky area full of cliffs. It came to mind that Jesus sent the swine over the cliff in an area that must have looked like this- where the Gadarenes lived. Sure enough, we were approaching Gadara! Every place we come to matches up perfectly with the Bible, and it should, because the Bible is God’s Word. When we went out on the Sea of Galilee, we looked around and could see the following: Gadara, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Magdala, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha the seven springs church (location of the feeding of the five thousand), and Tiberias. Our boat left Gadara and arrived in Capernaum. Capernaum may have been the village of Nahum the prophet. Simon Peter, of course, was from Capernaum. Capernaum is best known perhaps, as being the home base or headquarters of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee region. We saw another ancient olive press here. Capernaum was owned by the Romans. We were blessed with the opportunity to observe three different time eras of the town. There was Capernaum at the time of Jesus. Another time era was represented by a Muslim Synagogue in the city. Finally, further archaeological remains depicted Capernaum at a later time, the 5th century under the Byzantines. We left Capernaum and passed through Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. Now, we left the Sea of Galilee, and headed for the boyhood home of Jesus- Nazareth. Along the way, we passed another of the many Crusader strongholds which were taken over by the Muslims. The drive towards Nazareth was very scenic, with rocky gorges and mountains. We drove through lower Galilee. We passed through Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle in His ministry, turning the water into wine. Cana kept its name for two thousand years. The Roman Catholic Church has the “alleged pot” which Jesus used to perform this miracle. In a postcard I have of the “pot,” it looked in very good shape for its age. We then passed through Reina, a suburb of Nazareth, near Gath-hepher, the home town of Jonah. We arrived in Nazareth, which has a population of forty five thousand Arabs, Muslims, and Christians. There were many crowded streets. Remember Nathaniel’s comment: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” We visited the Nazareth Baptist Church whose pastor was of Arab descent. The Baptist Church had a dynamic Christian School, and ALL of the many, many students, like the pastor of the church, were converted Arabs. Next, we visited the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth. It reminded one of a Catholic Church with all the icons, paintings of Mary, the candles, etc. “Mary’s well” was inside. This was the only water source of the city. This church dates to Byzantine times.
Water is always the bottom line in any potential dwelling area: 1) Where Moses smote the rock near Petra, 2) Where Elisha turned the bitter waters sweet at Jericho, 3) Mary’s well in Nazareth, 4) At the Megiddo tunnel, 5) In Jerusalem at the Canaanite Well, and Hezekiah’s Tunnel which empties into the Pool of Siloam (in Jerusalem is also the Pool of Bethesda), 6) And at En Gedi – the spring where David hid from Saul, also known as David’s Spring or David’s Wadi.
We passed the cliff where Jesus disappeared from the angry people. Then we came to the eye catching Valley of Jezreel or Valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-16). Some people think the battle will actually be fought here, such as Hal Lindsey and other literalists of Bible prophecy. Personally, I believe that “Armageddon” is a symbolic term due to all the battles fought there, just as “Sodom” is symbolic of homosexuality, and “Babylon” is symbolic of spiritual whoredom.
We passed Mount Tabor, where Barak and Deborah the judges had their military base. Next we approached Megiddo, the strategically located fortress where many famous men died, among these was Josiah. We were also approaching Mount Carmel.
We observed other fruits in Israel in this area, namely strawberries, grapes, olives, oranges, avocados, cantelopes, etc.
We went by picture perfect Nain, a pretty hamlet on a hillside. Then we went through Afula.
We came even closer to Megiddo and Mount Carmel (Megiddo is actually a part of the Carmel Mountain Range). Megiddo is a tell of about twenty towns which were destroyed. As mentioned, Megiddo was in a strategic place – blocking the Carmel mountain pass. Megiddo goes back to 1500 B.C., and Canaanite kings before Joshua. There is a model of the Megiddo tell on the scene. The importance of Megiddo lies in the fact that it is the only pass through the mountain range, for the invasion of Jerusalem from the west. Ancient Megiddo goes back from 4000 B.C. to 500 A.D. The source of water was an underground tunnel and spring which was camouflaged so the enemy could not poison it. Mount Carmel is easily scene from Megiddo. The Catholic “Elijah Church” is seen on Mount Carmel, and is the alleged place where Elijah called down fire from heaven and slew the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. From Megiddo, one can see the mountain of Ahab’s Palace to the west, the Gilboa mountains, Mount Tabor, and the Nazareth mountains. The oldest feature known in Megiddo is a center for Baal worship which dates back to 4,000 B.C. There were many huge grain silos at Megiddo from the time of Jeroboam. Ahab had a “chariot city” at Megiddo in the 9th Century B.C. Also featured in Megiddo are horse stables and a feeding trough from the time of Solomon and/or Ahab. We went through the water tunnel which leads to the spring, the water source of Megiddo.
Upon leaving Megiddo, we noticed anti-aircraft, Israeli tanks, and military installations everywhere. We went down the narrow Megiddo pass upon exiting. We passed one of the largest Israeli Arab settlements in Israel. During our travels, Pastor Grimes and our Jewish guide Naphtali were talking about King David. Naphtali said he came from Bethlehem. In response, Pastor Grimes said that David HAD to come from Bethlehem because he was a type of Christ. It seems that the best way to witness to Jewish people is to reveal prophetic truths in the Old Testament, show them how the Old and New Testament fit together, show them how the New Testament completes the Old Testament, and show them how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the entire Word of God, and the law, the psalms, and the prophets (Matthew 5:17, Luke 24:44).
We approached Caesarea where Philip the evangelist lived with “his four daughters who did prophesy.” Caesarea, as you can probably tell by the name, was a Roman settlement. The town featured all of the attractions of Roman life – an amphitheater, race tracks, administrative buildings, and a regular theater in the round. Our guides informed us along the way that the Byzantines took over the east after the time of the Roman Empire; the Byzantines came out of Turkey. This brought to my mind the many empires that have risen and fallen during the ancient history of man. Here is a list of just a few of the empires that I thought of: 1) Sumerians 2) Babylon 3) Assyria 4) Syria 5) Egypt 6) Neo Babylon 7) Medo-Persia 8) Greek 9) Roman 10) Byzantine 11) Muslims (Arabic) 12) Crusaders 13) The Ottoman Empire of the Turks in 1500. All of the aforementioned empires had a heavy influence on Israel in the past. If we thought even more, we could probably add several more to the list such as the Canaanites, Philistines and others. It is no coincidence that Israel is a “land bridge” where many nations crossed in the past. In this way, other countries could learn the gospel, and Israel could be humbled by other nations when she stepped out of line.
Herod built Caesarea for the Romans only. Augustus Caesar made Herod “King of the Jews,” hence Herod named the town Caesarea in honor of the emperor Augustus. On the way to Caesarea, we passed through the large, modern, contemporary Israeli city of Tel Aviv, where Naphtali our guide is from.
Caesarea was built in the first century by Herod the Great. We observed an aqueduct built by Herod. It had two large ducts on top in which to transport water. The water came nine miles from Mount Carmel and into Caesarea. We passed the hippodrome (hippo means horse), or Roman race track. Caesarea also has a “Crusader City” or castle. The thirteenth century Crusader’s castle is complete with walls and a moat. The castle was in very good condition. Caesarea, like many places in medieval times in the Holy Land, changed hands several times between the Muslims and Crusaders. We stopped and looked at the semi circular Roman theater in Caesarea. Next, we looked at the remains of the Herodian Palace. (How many palaces and fortresses did Herod the Great have?) All of the statue heads were hacked off by Muslims, who despised Roman pagan practices of nudity. Caesarea is still one gigantic tell – most of which is still uncovered.
We passed through Hadera, on our way to Tell Aviv. As we again approached Tell Aviv, we observed a beautiful sunset. Tell Aviv was built in 1909 by Jews from Istanbul. It is the largest city in Israel, and very modern.
We passed through the city of the Ottomon Empire, which was 500 years old, founded by a Turkish Sultan – New Joppa. We then arrived in the older part of town, Old Joppa. This, of course, is the home of Simon the tanner (Peter). Jonah also went to Joppa, attempting to flee from God’s will. It is interesting that when we tie Joppa in with Peter and Jonah, with both men the city is significant because it had to do with their respective commissions of taking the gospel to the Gentiles. There were many narrow streets and shops near the water. Excavations revealed the third century B.C. Greek occupation of Joppa. It is a very quaint and pretty town, it reminds one of a fishing port.
Onward, for our one hour drive to Jerusalem. On our way south, we passed the place where the sun stood still for Joshua’s army. As we went towards Jerusalem, we gradually ascended. Hence, even though we were going south, we were going “up” to Jerusalem. The ONLY way to Jerusalem is a narrow, rocky canyon road. The Arabs blocked this road in 1948. Jerusalem is a town of vast hills and valleys. Jerusalem is over 3,000 feet high and has a population of 450,000. It has an old city and a new city – our attention will be focused on the old city. When we arrived for the night, we stayed at the Shalom Jerusalem Hotel in the new city.