Viewing entries tagged

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts


Our final day in Israel started with a visit to the Garden Tomb, sometimes referred to as Gordon's Calvary. This site is often offered as an alternative site to Golgotha from the Church of the Holy Sepulture. In my opinion, it is probably not the site of Golgotha, but it is a nice place to visit anyway. Afterwards, we visited the Israel Museum. Seeing the large, outdoor mode of Jerusalem during the first century helps to bring everything we have learned together. This model is a powerful teaching tool and I always encourage my tours to take many pictures. We were also able to view many of the Dead Sea Scrolls and many items in the Archaeological wing of the museum.

We drove out to the coast and walked around ancient Joppa. This stop in the late afternoon offers some panoramic views of the coastal area of Tel Aviv. I am always reminded of how Jonah came here and unsuccessfully tried to run away from God.

After dinner, we headed to the airport and flew home. It is hard to believe that this tour is already over. I always encourage my travelers to use this tour as a jumping off place to learn more about Biblical geography. If you understand the land of Israel, many of the Biblical stories become clearer and will enhance your understanding of the scriptures.

Before the nation of Israel entered into the promised land, Moses described the land to them. He said:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. - Deuteronomy 8:7-10

Until next time, shalom.

Note: The photo at the top of this post is our group shot from the Mount of Olives.


2_Jaffa_3_2 The ancient city of Joppa lies on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, mostly underneath buildings from much later periods, in modern-day Tel Aviv.  It served as a seaport for delivering Phoenician cedars to Israel, and was a jumping off point in Jonah’s flight to distant Tarshish.  Peter would later receive Cornelius’s emissaries after healing Tabitha in this seaside town.

The Final Day

The Final Day


Well, the tour is over. I am sending this post from my home in Athens, Alabama. Due to time limitations, I was not able to send a post last night. We woke up yesterday morning a little later than usual, allowing us to have some extra sleep and time to pack our bags for the voyage home. We started the day at the Israel Museum. We spent about 2.5 hours there, but that was only long enough to make us wish that we could spend a week. There are three primary sections to the museum: 1) The large model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, 2) the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and 3) the museum itself.

We toured the large model (about a half acre in size) first. This is a wonderful visual aid to understanding Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. If given the opportunity, I would love to teach a series of lessons using that model as my background. You can describe so many stories from the Gospels and Acts by examining the model in light of Scripture.

We then turned our attention to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Having visited Qumran earlier in the trip, it was nice to see the actual scrolls being displayed.

Finally, we visited the archaeology wing of the museum (there are many other wings that we did not even walk into). Our quick tour of that wing showed us so many things that related to our tour and passages in the Bible.

duttonsHaving finished at the Museum, we headed southwest toward the coast. I have two friends, Trent and Rebekah Dutton, who are currently getting their Masters Degree at Wheaton College in Chicago in Biblical Archaeology. To accomplish that goal, they have been participating at a dig at the ancient Philistine city of Ashkelon. They agreed to meet us at the site and to give us a personal guided tour of the site and of the work that they are doing. It was a fantastic tour and I believe that everyone enjoyed the personal touch. The main thing that I learned from the tour is how large the city of Ashkelon was. The site itself (which is made up of three tels) rivals the size of Hazor in the north on just pure size. In addition, by seeing its location on the coast makes it easy to understand why it was such an important city.

From there we headed north toward Joppa. We spent about an hour touring the city and seeing how beautiful it is. It is through this port that cedar wood from Lebanon was delivered to build Solomon’s Temple. Jonah tried to run from God here. And, Peter received a vision which instructed him to teach to Good News of Jesus to the Gentile people.

tel_avivAfter a final dinner, we headed toward the airport. Ben Gurion International Airport is known as one of the most secure airports in the world. You need to arrive early because there are several different levels of security to go through. We all made it through fine and boarded our flight to New York City. The flight was smooth and even landed a little ahead of schedule. At New York City, we all parted ways to go to our separate home destinations.

It was a great tour. I could not have asked for a kinder, more fun group than the people that came with me on this tour. They never complained and were glad to be spending this wonderful time together.

Visiting the land of Israel opens the Bible in ways that you had never considered. I’ll end these series of posts by reminding us of the words of Moses as he spoke to the people before entering the land of Canaan:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. - Deuteronomy 8:7-10

I agree. It’s a wonderful land. And, I can’t wait to go back. Until then, shalom.

The Jerusalem Movie Trailer

The Jerusalem Movie Trailer


Since I posted about the official Jerusalem movie trailer last night, I've had a couple of people ask me about some of the locations. If you are interested, here is a run-down of all of the locations in the trailer: 0:05-0:09 - The Dead Sea 0:10-0:14 - Caesarea Maritima - This is the home city of Cornelius. The apostle Paul traveled through this city on his missionary journeys and then was imprisoned here for two years before traveling to Rome. 0:15-0:20 - Mar Saba Monastery in the Kidron Valley 0:21-0:25 - Masada 0:26-0:31 - Jerusalem from Mount Scopus 0:32-0:34 - Dome of the Rock 0:35-0:37 - Western Wall Plaza 0:38-0:43 - Western Wall 0:44-0:49 - Port of Joppa - Jonah tried to flee from God by boarding a boat at Joppa. The cedars from Lebanon were delivered for Solomon's temple via the port at Joppa. Peter saw a vision while he was at Simon the tanner's house which told him to go to Caesarea and find Cornelius. 0:50-0:52 - Franciscan Chapel on the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee - This is the traditional location of the Sermon on the Mount. 0:53-0:57 - Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives - Jesus would have traveled in this direction a number of times during His final week as he spent the night in Bethany, but spent the day in Jerusalem. 0:58-1:01 - Descending the Mount of Olives toward the Kidron Valley 1:02-1:03 - One of the many streets in the Old City 1:04-1:06 - Dinner time in the Old City 1:07-1:10 - Worshippers walk the Via Dolorosa 1:11-1:12 - Prayers at the Western Wall 1:13-1:17 - Prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque 1:18-1:24 - Church of the Holy Sepulture - This is the traditional location of Calvary and the tomb. 1:25-1:30 - Hezekiah's Tunnel 1:31-1:33 - Coffins from Gaza at the Israel Museum 1:34-1:38 - Sunrise over the Old City 1:39-1:45 - Jerusalem from the southeast

Would you like to visit these places? Next June, I'm going and I'd love for you to join me. If you are a student of the Bible, it is a trip that you will never forget.

Simon the Tanner

Doorway to the traditional location of the House of Simon the Tanner, located in the Old City of Jaffa.In my last post, I showed a picture of St. Peter's Church in modern day Jaffa (ancient Joppa). This church sits on the traditional location where Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. In that post, I quoted from Acts 9:26-42. In this post, I wanted to discuss the next verse.

So it was that he [Peter] stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner. - Acts 9:43

After Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, he stayed with a gentleman by the name of Simon. In the next chapter, we learn a little more about Simon's house. An angel speaks to Cornelius, who lived in Caesarea, and tells him to go find Peter.

So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” - Acts 10:4-6

From this verse, we learn that Simon's house was by the sea.

As you walk through the narrow corridors of the Old City of Jaffa, you come across a humble door (pictured above) which is marked as the "House of Simon the Tanner".

Often, when you are the Holy Lands, you see churches or markers denoting the "traditional" locations of many Biblical events. Some of the locations are rooted in a thread of fact, so there is some justification to their claim. Others have to scrutinized a little more closely in light of Scripture. (And there are some, which are just plain wrong.)

Is this home in the ancient city of Joppa? Yes. Is it on the seashore? Yes. (The west side of this building is almost directly on the shoreline.) Is this the real house of Simon the Tanner? Probably not, especially given the fact that the architecture is clearly much more recent. Does it sit on the location of the original house? There is no way of knowing.

Regardless, it is interesting. And, seeing this locations, even if they are not exactly correct, help you to understand the Scriptures more.

Dorcas Lived In Joppa

St. Peter's Church, located in Old Jaffa.In Acts 9, we read an interesting story involving the apostle Peter and a woman by the name of Dorcas. Dorcas died and her friends sent to the nearby town of Lydda to contact Peter. Seeing how distressed the people were, Peter raised Dorcas from the dead.

At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. - Acts 9:36-42

As is mentioned, this event took place in Joppa (modern day Jaffa). Today, St. Peter's Church (picture above) sits on the traditional location of this story. The church was originally built in 1654, but later destroyed. The current structure was rebuilt in the late 1800s. The church sits high on the tel of ancient Joppa and has a stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea.

2012 Israel Trip - Day Eleven

2012 Israel Trip - Day Eleven


Well, the trip has quickly come to an end. Our flight was scheduled to leave around midnight on Friday night, so when we got up on Friday morning, we knew that it was going to be a very, very long day. However, we don't want to waste our time over here. With that being said, we kept our visiting down to seeing areas and sites that we could drive to. Or, at the least, get to from a very short walk. Today is a great day of the trip because we drive through the Shephelah. The Shephelah is a region of the country between the central mountain range and the coastal region. Our first stop was a Beth-Shemesh, where the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. It is also the area of Samson.

We then drove through the Valley of Elah. I have to admit, I love driving through that valley. If you open up your Bible and read the story of David and Goliath, the entire valley becomes alive. It's amazing to see the geographic accuracy of the Bible.

We visited many other sites in the area and finally ended up back in Joppa. The port of Joppa is where Jonah tried to flee from God and where Solomon received the cedars from Lebanon to use in the construction of the temple in Jerusalem.

After dinner, we made our way to the airport to head home. It was another wonderful trip. I realize that it is not possible for every single Christian to go to the Bible lands. I've been lucky enough to make the trip to Israel twice. Even though the trip is over, I'm going to continue to place posts on the blog as well as update and add pages to this site. To be notified of the updates, be sure to like us on Facebook.

I hope that you enjoyed the notes about the trip and let me know if you have any questions!