Feb 9, 2023 | Gilbert's Journal


Our journey through the northern part of Israel continued on our second day of the Israel Bible Study Tour. We were captivated by the rich history, geography, and culture that we encountered during our visits to Tel Dan and Caesarea Philippi in the far north, as well as Capernaum and Magdala villages around the Sea of Galilee.

The Golan Heights was a strategic area for Israel during its 6-Day War in 1967 as it sought to reclaim a bordering area with Syria to the east and Lebanon to the west. As we explored these areas, we were immersed in meaningful conversations about biblical figures such as King David and Jeroboam and learned insights about the potential risks associated with idolatrous practices.

Through guided conversations and devotional talks with Dr. Douglas and James Becknell sharing their knowledge – this tour has so far been one filled with spiritual insight.

Tel Dan
On our visit to Tel Dan, we were struck by its relatively lush and unique atmosphere. Upon further exploration, we discovered an abundance of archaeological proof to support the historical presence of characters like King David, Jeroboam, and Abraham, giving us an even greater appreciation for the lessons from their lives as recorded by Scripture. Dr. Douglas shared insights into the life of Jeroboam (JEROBOAM’S ALTAR IN TEL DAN). Jeroboam had established an altar at Dan as an alternative to the one in the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 12:25-30).

From our visit, we realized that isolation can be dangerous as it was with the Dan tribe when the Philistines chased them away from their original allotted location to the far north.

Caesarea Philippi
Our journey to Caesarea Philippi gave us greater insight into why Jesus and his disciples would have trekked five to six days on foot through a Region that was deeply feared and despised by the Jews – a center of intense idolatrous practices, as evidenced by the physical and metaphorical Gate of Hades/Hell.

James Becknell’s devo helped us better understand this key question (DEVO AT CAESAREA MARITIMA). We were amazed at Jesus’ courage in the face of such paganism and what a great teacher He is. It continues to be an incredible privilege to walk where Jesus walked, better understanding his life-changing lessons – with the help of such a tour of the “Holy Land.”

We had the privilege of visiting Capernaum, a special ancient town named after the prophet Nahum. This was Jesus’ hear-quarters during his earthly ministry, and the Jews in Capernaum were one of the few communities who accepted him.

Our visit to the ancient Jewish synagogue and Peter’s house provided us with plenty of food for thought (REFLECTIONS AT CAPERNAUM). We felt humbled by such a connection to our Lord’s time on earth, and are grateful to be reminded of his teachings and miracles that took place here so many years ago.

Five years ago, we visited Magdala and all we found at the time was an ancient first-century synagogue alongside an ancient residential area for fishermen and a salt industry to preserve the fish caught prior to distributing across Israel.

This time, however, we had the privilege of staying at a seaside hotel right next to this ancient synagogue. It is believed that Jesus would have taught here. We can only imagine what it must have been like while standing in these “sacred places” where Jesus once was – a truly humbling experience!


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