Two Sundays ago, I announced to the church family that I was considering leading a group from Morningview to tour Israel in January of 2013.  The response has been very positive.  While I would always encourage members to consider a ministry mission trip as their first priority for overseas travel, I do believe that there is great merit in traveling to enjoy God’s creation, to broaden our knowledge of other cultures and places, and as a means of rest from our normal labors.  It is also good to remember that no matter where we go or why we go, we go as “ministers” of the gospel and ambassadors of Christ.

In the particular case of a visit to Israel, there is great merit in visiting the country where so much biblical history took place.  Our forefathers in the faith, and particularly our Lord Jesus Christ, walked and ministered in the land of Israel, and it would be a joy to be able to see and appreciate the geography and history of a land that holds so much spiritual significance for us.  If you are considering being part of this trip, I will hold a brief informational meeting in the sanctuary right after our morning service this coming Sunday.  It will only take 5 minutes, and I will be able to put materials in your hands that should answer all your questions.  Below is a brief synopsis of the schedule:

Day 1 – Sunday – Jan 20: Depart USA from Montgomery Airport.  Day 2 – Monday – Jan 21: Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel and transfer by motorcoach to Tiberias for dinner and overnight near the Sea of Galilee.

Day 3 – Tuesday – Jan 22: Boat ride on the sea of Galilee, Visit to the Ancient Boat believed to be from the time of Christ at Kibbutz Ginosar, visit Capernaum, the town Jesus made his home after leaving Nazareth, then conclude with a visit to Mount Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

Day 4 – Wednesday – Jan 23: Visit Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God”, have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we will see the gate of Jeroboam, then we will visit Ein Harod, the site of Judge Gideon, followed by a drive to Bet She’an. Recent excavations there have disclosed the impressive ruins of the country’s largest city in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Day 5 – Thursday – Jan 24: – We will visit Megiddo, the fortress city of King Solomon, later built upon by King Ahab, we will view the Plains of Jezreel, we will drive by and view Mt. Carmel, the “Mukhraka” the site where Elijah challenged and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, we will drive on to Caesarea, the city that Peter came to convert Cornelius after the vision at the house of Simon the Tanner, we will also explore the Roman Theater and the aqueduct and view the ruins of the Romans, Byzantines and Crusaders. We continue our drive on to Jerusalem.

Day 6 – Friday – Jan 25: In Jerusalem, we’ll ascend Mount of Olives for a breath taking panoramic view of the old city of Jerusalem, walk along the Palm Sunday Way, descend to the Garden of Gethsemane, visit the Church of All the Nations, walk along the “last Way” to Mt. Zion. Visit St. Anne Church, which is a fine sample for Crusader architecture, see the Pools of Bethesda, drive to Mount Zion and visit the Last Supper room, we’ll see King David’s Tomb, and we’ll end the day with a visit to the house of the high priest Caiaphas where Peter denied the Lord 3 times.

Day 7– Saturday – Jan 26: Depart our hotel for a visit to Massada. We’ll ascend Massada by cable car, explore the ancient excavation of Herod’s Palaces, bathhouse, the storerooms, and visit the oldest Synagogue in the world. Then we’ll proceed to a hotel in Ein Bokek for lunch and a swim in the Dead Sea. We’ll continue to Ein Gedi, an Oasis on the Dead Sea shore, near the 200 meter high waterfall is a cave where David had his famous meeting with King Saul. We’ll visit Qumran, where the 2000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls were found, then we’ll drive via the Judean Desert and ascend to Jerusalem, passing the traditional site of the Inn if the Good Samaritan.

Day 8 – Sunday – Jan 27: From Jerusalem we’ll drive to Mt Moriah, walk up to the Temple place and visit the Dome of the Rock and the El Aqza Mosque. Then we’ll visit the Western Wall, one of last remnant of the second Jewish Temple, explore the Rabbinical Tunnel, walk through the Jewish Quarter, visit the Herodian Mansion, and end the day with a visit to the Davidson Center and the Southern Wall Stairs, the City of David, and the Pools of Siloam.

Day 9 – Monday – Jan 28: We’ll visit the Israel Museum, the Shrine of the Book (where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Bar Kokhva letters are exhibited), visit the Scale Model of Jerusalem from the time of Jesus, and continue to the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. We will end the day at the Garden Tomb, have a farewell Dinner, and Transfer to Ben Gurion airport for our flight back to the USA.  Day 10 – Tuesday – Jan 29: Arrive back to the USA.  This will truly be an unforgettable trip!