The Holy Land Tour with Richard Fredericks, Ph.D. October 6-17, 2020
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Day by Day
This evening we leave from Dulles International for our connecting flight in Istanbul, arriving the next day. Meals served on board.
wednesdayIstanbul, Tel Aviv
Transfer to our flight leaving 6:05PM arriving Tel Aviv, Israel 8:05PM, Transfer to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Our first full day of touring is Day 3 along the MEDITERRANEAN SEA. This day helps you understand the historical context of the New Testament through a look at the demented genius and power of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1-18; Luke 1:5). Herod was, in many ways, great, especially as a builder (Temple, Masada, Herodian Palace, and Caesarea Maritime). But he was equally ruthless and determined to destroy the newborn Messiah. His tenuous grasp of power as the King of the Jews stands in sharp contrast to the life-giving power Jesus came to give away. Our first day also offers us a pivotal picture of the early Christian church and the later Crusader Presence. Finally we end at the site of the most dramatic face-off in the Old Testament apart from David and Goliath: Elijah standing against the 450 prophets of Baal:
thursdayTel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Muhraqa, Tiberias
We start our tour of the Holy Land in Jaffa (JOPPA in the New Testament, see Acts 9:36-43 and Acts 10:1-23). Here Peter raised Dorcas from the dead and had his famous vision in Acts 10 on Simon’s rooftop that convinced him Jesus died for us all, Jew and Gentile alike—a crucial turning point in history). We will take a short walk through the beautifully restored ancient port, where medieval pilgrims started their strenuous 2-day trek to Jerusalem. Next is CAESAREA (Read the rest of Acts 10:24-48, where Peter breaks with a thousand years of tradition dividing Jews and Greeks and baptizes into Christ the first non-Jewish believers. This is also the site where Paul was imprisoned for over two years, before sailing for Rome and his trial before Caesar [Acts 23:23- 26:32]). It is the perfect place to learn about King Herod’s genius as a builder and politician (we will see his fortress of Masada later in the tour). Here also we see the Roman and Crusader presence in the country. Visit the ROMAN AQUADUCTS and AMPHITHEATER and walk the walls of the impressive CRUSADER FORTRESS and admire Herod’s Stadium and man-made harbor. Next drive north along the fruitful Mediterranean coast dotted with vineyards and apricot groves to the slopes of the scenic Carmel mountain range and ascend MOUNT CARMEL (Read this powerful story in 1 Kings 16:29-17:24, then the famous face-off in 1 Kings 18:1-46): especially notice the words of Elijah throughout—his perspective on what the issues were, in contrast to Ahab’s perspective). From this mountain we have an amazing view of Haifa. At MUHRAQA, site of Prophet Elijah’s contest of faith with the priests of Baal, enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the fertile JEZREEL VALLEY. We go on to our hotel in TIBERIUS (named for the Roman emperor at that time), on the banks of the SEA OF GALILEE, itself an ancient and fascinating site.
fridayTel Aviv, Mount Tabor, Cana, Nazareth, Tiberias
We leave Tel Aviv and travel to MOUNT TABOR, the mountain rising out of the Galilean plain which Jesus ascended with Peter, John and James. Matthew 17:1- 8 says: “There He was transfigured before them…” On this mountain Jesus meets with Moses and Elijah and the disciples encounter the divine glory of Jesus (see 2 Peter 1:16-18); they hear the affirmation of the Father and they move to a new level in understanding Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament (READ Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:1-12 and Luke 9:28-36). Next we travel to CANA, the small town where Jesus performed His first miracle: met the needs of a young couple beginning their marriage. This story, eleven verses long, in John 2:1-11, is filled with statements worth reflecting on. They are foundational to Jesus’ ministry. Then we drive to NAZARETH, the town of Gabriel’s visit to Virgin Mary (BASILICA OF THE ANNUNCIATION, see Luke 1:26-56), where Jesus grew up (Matthew 2:19-23). Nazareth is also the scene of His public declaration of His ministry (Luke 4:14-30). What a great day, then we go to our hotel in TIBERIUS for the evening.
saturdayCaesarea Philippi, Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, Magdala
We depart early in the morning to CAESAREA PHILIPPI (modern Banias), which was, in Jesus’ day a royal Roman City dedicated to the worship of the GrecoRoman god, PAN, who was believed to have been ‘birthed’ in the cave we will see there; and who was revered as the god of pleasure. In this place, in the shadow of the cave known as the “Gate of Hell” and a Roman city built in honor of Caesar as Lord and dedicated to decadence, Jesus asks His decisive question: “Who do you say that I am?” Here Peter makes the foundational confession upon which the Church of Christ is built (Matthew 16:13-27; Mark 8:2738; Luke 9:18-27). After Caesarea Philippi, we drive back to the Sea of Galilee and visit the Museum of the ancient Galilean boat dug out of the mud on the shores of the SOG. This fishing boat dates back to the life of Jesus. From here, we board ship for a BOAT RIDE and worship on the SEA OF GALILEE where so many of Jesus’ miracles and stories took place (see Matthew 4:12-22; cf. Mark 1:16-20; Matthew 8:23-26, cf. Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 9:1; Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 5:1, 18; 6:45-53; Luke 5:1-11; John 21:1-13). Debarking from our time on the Sea of Galilee we go to the MOUNT OF BEATITUDES, the glorious hilltop and church dedicated to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 57), especially to His eight beatitudes at the beginning of His great teaching. We will spend time reflecting and praying at this profoundly beautiful place. Back to Tiberius for the evening, to reflect and prepare for the next day’s sites and our journey south to the region of Jericho and the Dead Sea.
sundayCapernaum, Tabgha, Yardenit, Dead Sea Resort
Our first stop is one of my favorites on the whole trip: we go to CAPERNAUM, Jesus adopted “hometown” during His Galilean (northern) ministry (SEE Matthew 4:12-22 [esp. verse 13]). Here we will visit the synagogue where Jesus most often taught, the nearby home of Simon Peter and the shoreline of the SEA OF GALILEE. This small town area was the site for so many of Jesus’ miracles, teachings, calling of His disciples and face-offs with the religious leaders. READ Mark 2:1-3:34; Luke 4:31-7:10 for examples of this early ministry stage of Jesus. Then we go to the sea-side village of Tabgha, to see the CHURCH OF THE MULTIPLICATION OF THE LOAVES AND FISHES (the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels: (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-34; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15); and nearby the CHURCH OF PETER’S CALLING (see John 21:1-25). Then onto YARDENIT, a baptismal site on the Jordan River. Time will be allotted for pilgrims to participate in a submersion baptism in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-13; Luke 3:21-23). Leave the Galilee area, drive through the Jordan Valley to arrive in the Dead Sea resort area for your overnight stay. Visit JERICHO, one of the most ancient cities in the World (Joshua 5:13-6:27; Luke 19:1-10; Mark 10:46-52). In the afternoon, return to the DEAD SEA area (traditional site of Sodom and Gomorrah, see Genesis 18:16-19:29). Here we relax and have plenty of time to experience the feeling of buoyancy in the heavy water (it is an unforgettable experience)! Overnight in the Dead Sea Resort area. Before Dinner, gather at the hotel for time of reflection with an overview of touring the next day (B,D)
mondayMasada, En Gedi, Qumran, Jerusalem
Begin the morning at Herod’s fortress masterpiece, MASADA. Ascend by cable car to the spectacular clifftop FORTRESS of Masada and hear how 960 Jewish zealots preferred death at their own hands to the indignity of surrender to overwhelming Roman forces. ("Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice ... We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom." Eleazar ben Ya’ir, 73 A.D.) See Herod’s cliff-side Palace. Our next stop is the beautiful waterfalls and cliffs of EIN GEDI, King David’s famous retreat (see 1 Samuel 23:29; 24:1, 22) in the Judean Wilderness when fleeing from King Saul. Tour the EIN GEDI RESERVE. On to QUM RAN National Park with the eleven caves made famous when the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, were discovered between the years 1947 and 1956. Next we leave the Jericho/Dead Sea area (as Jesus did, see Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 19:1-27) and begin our 18-mile, over 3000-foot-ascent UP to JERUSALEM (read the short but powerful Psalm of Ascents together as the Jewish pilgrims did in Jesus’ day on their way to Passover: Psalms 120-134).
tuesdayMount of Olives, Domunus Flavit, Gethsemane, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Bethlehem
We start early on a walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old Town. From the MOUNT OF OLIVES (see Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-36; see also Matthew 24-25 and Mark 13:1-37 [known as the Olivet Discourse-24:3]), take in memorable views over the city’s domes, walls, and rooftops—and the hillside of Jewish Tombs (placed to be near Messiah’s coming on the great Judgment Day). Visit DOMINUS FLAVIT [The LORD wept] CHAPEL (Luke 19:41-44). Descend via the PALM SUNDAY WALK to visit the GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, where Jesus prayed on the night before his arrest (Matthew 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-14). Visit the CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS located next to the garden, in which is located the traditional stone of Jesus’ agony. Next we go to another favorite site of mine, the CHURCH of St. Peter in GALLICANTU, the traditional site of Peter’s denial of Jesus and Jesus’ arrest in the early hours of Good Friday (Matthew 26:57-75; Luke 22:54-75). The lower grotto and garden are memorable sites. We end our day by visiting BETHLEHEM—the city of David. There we will visit the SHEPHERD’S FIELD, a cave preserved for Pilgrims to look much like the manger-stable would have looked where Jesus was born (see Luke 2:1-20). Our next stop is the magnificent CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, the oldest still active Christian Church in the world, dating to the 5th century rule of Justinian, when he rebuilt the original church built by St Helena around 325 A.D. Many of the pillars inside the church are from her original church. Here we descend into the little Grotto of the Manger to touch the place the original Christians showed Helena as the site of Jesus’ birth. Then we visit SAINT CATHERINE’S CHURCH [ST JEROME’S GROTTO].
wednesdayGarden Tomb, Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod's Temple, Southern Wall, Dome of the Rock (Site of Solomon's Temple), Muristan Walk
We begin this day with the deeply meaningful Garden Tomb—an excavated tomb of a rich man located in a garden area very similar to how Jesus’ tomb is described (see John 19:38-50; Luke 23:50-24:8). This site is lovingly run by Christians as a place of reflection on the burial and resurrection of our LORD. We then pass through the security points and into the Ancient city of Jerusalem itself, beginning our time there at the WESTERN (Wailing) WALL of Herod’s [Solomon’s] temple mount (referred to as Mount Zion (1 Chronicles 28-29; 2 Chronicles 1-7). We will be in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, one rich with history at every step. We will walk from the Western (Wailing) Wall of the Temple Mount to the Archeological Museum of the SOUTHERN WALL, where we will climb the actual steps that Jesus and the Apostles climbed as they entered the huge Temple Mount area, up to the Hulda Gates. Our next stop is to the beautiful Muslim DOME OF THE ROCK (the rock of Abraham’s sacrifice: read Genesis 22), which, since 691 AD, stands where both Solomon’s Temple was originally built; and where Herod’s Jewish temple, destroyed by Titus’ Roman Army in 70 AD, once stood. It is a beautiful area, overlooking Jerusalem. From here we will walk together to the Damascus Gate.
thursdayJerusalem, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Russian Orthodox Church, Muristan, Pool of Bethesda, St. Anne's Church
Go through Damascus Gate to the VIA DOLOROSA -the Way of Suffering, past the early Stations of the Cross to the CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE (the ‘mother load’ of Jesus’ Passion, containing under its great domed roof GOLGOTHA and the site of JESUS’ TOMB: see Matthew 27:32-28:15; Mark 15:21-16:28; Luke 23:26-24:8; John 19:16-20:18). Spend several hours in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for reflection. This Church contains the Golgotha Chapel, Shrine of Christ’s Tomb, and other beautiful the chapels including St Helena’s Chapel (a great reflecting place). Next, go to the RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ALEXANDER HOSPICE to see a portion of wall from the original Church of Holy Sepulcher and my favorite paintings of Christ’s Passion. Finally, go to the LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER where the hardy can climb the tower for a magnificent view (my favorite) of the Old City; and everyone else can be released for shopping in the Christian Quarter or to see other special sites in this area. Enter through SAINT STEPHEN’S GATE [to Muslim’s: Lion’s Gate] and arrive at the POOLS OF BETHESDA (The pools date back to the 2nd century BC and it was here Jesus cured the crippled man of 38 years, see John 5:1-30). Visit the CHURCH OF ST ANNE, the traditional birthplace of the Virgin Mary (a gloriously constructed, acoustically-perfect Crusader church).
fridayJerusalem, Israel Museum, Citadel, King David's Tomb, Upper Room
As a review of all we have seen, we begin this final day at the SCALE MODEL of JERUSALEM at TIME OF JESUS located on the grounds of the Israel Museum, which houses the original DEAD SEA SCROLLS. We continue our final day entering through the Jaffa Gate and going to Herod’s CITADEL, known as the “Tower of David,” now a Museum of the History of Jerusalem. We will take a walking tour on the WALLS OF JERUSALEM. Late lunch in Muristan. Next we go to the traditional Mt. Zion area to see KING DAVID’S TOMB and the CENACLE – the traditional site of the UPPER ROOM (Matthew 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-31; Luke 22:7-38; John 13-14). After sharing the LORD’s SUPPER here, we will return for final free time in the area around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the MURISTAN Fountain Square [for any final site visits or shopping]. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Note – A group transfer is provided back to the hotel this afternoon for Our FINAL SUPPER/SHARING all together.
saturdayJerusalem, Tel Aviv, USA
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning and our transportation back to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport) for your flight home.