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Holy Land Trip: Day 2

October 1, 2018

1Oh, Israel…

My friends, I thought last year’s tour was great. This year’s is even better.

Trying to tell you what we’ve done today in one blog is like my trying to outrace a Tony Schumacher top fuel dragster on foot – I just don’t have the time or speed.  I’ll try my best to give you an overview, and what it meant to me personally today.

This is especially challenging since I am trying to type while our driver Bassan is weaving us through Cana.   I am flopping side to side and trying to keep my fingers on the laptop keyboard.

No complaints whatsoever.  Each minute is a new learning experience.  I mean this almost literally. What a day.

We entered the evening sweaty and suntanned, tired in the feet and yet energized and talkative about what we’ve seen and experienced.

How can I describe these days succinctly?  I am so afraid I’ll leave out an important detail.  We visited the gorgeous gardens of the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, walked through underground tunnels in Akko, and wondered at the deep and rich history of Meggido.  And we even squeezed in a lunch of shawarma in a sidewalk café at lunchtime.  And fed a quartet of kitties while we were dining.

Small note: we have run into cats at about every turn where we’ve gone.  They’re everywhere.  In fact, Ethan, Daniel and I witnessed a stray cat sneak into the Akko castle and wedge himself under a plexiglass window and romp around a museum display. It was hilarious.

On a more serious note:  the Megiddo visit was just short of stunning.  We trekked up the front pathway through the daunting remains of the fortress entryway and thick stone walls, wiping the sweat off of our faces in the 90 degree heat.  One could imagine how hot this was on a daily basis as the inhabitants labored in their farmland, wall building, water carrying and other outside labor.  This seems especially ironic when one could look out over the cool, wide, lush Jezreel Valley.

This is an area untainted by huge churches built over every significant site.  You can walk around and imagine life in this settlement.  The shock, though, is of the realization that this huge hill is completely made of continuous civilizations building on top of one another; it could be up to 25 civilizations each making the previous buildings their foundation stones.  I find it especially striking – like last year – that this will be the viewing point of the final battle of the ages – the Battle of Armageddon.  Overlooking the peaceful flat valley conflicts the mind; there will be incredible bloodshed here?

War dominates the themes of the morning.  Akko’s fortress is beyond any quick description.  The huge walls and the massive building blocks.  The deep halls and the underground tunnels.  The musty meeting rooms and the awe-inspiring arches and columns.  All built in the name of war.  All built by Crusaders who were in a religious conquest that was, sadly, spotted with tragedies and crimes that are hardly justified.  The construction of this huge complex can only be grasped by viewing one of our Classroom Travelers videos.  We walk around the wide rooms in order to get a perspective of the hugeness of the place.

We later stopped by Haifa, stopping at the top of Mount Carmel.  This is the land of Elijah and his showdown facing the priest of Baal.  This is the location of the sacrificial altars and the fire from Heaven.  One could imagine the people carrying jars of water from the beach of the Mediterranean as Elijah urges them to be quicker and to pour the water contents all over the wood of the altar.

We were on the move throughout the day and into the evening.  Sure, the food was fantastic, but that’s for another time and is not important to this blog.  We studied.  We questioned.  We learned.

Isn’t that what the Lord enjoys?  The Lord REMINDS US IN 2 Timothy 1:7 that He has given us a sound mind.  It seems to me more and more as our generations progress that this is overlooked.  We do understand the verse in its “power” and “love” context; after all, isn’t that what God is all about?  We often ignore the “sound mind” aspect and the need for learning and expanding our understanding.  I have urged the group to study and then to be ready to teach when we get back to the States.  There is a lot to learn and there is much to instruct.

I must run… we are nearing Magdala. There is another lesson ready for us.  Thank you, Lord, for this fantastic outdoor classroom experience.

 

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