Arrival in Israel. Every journey has a beginning. Sometimes the beginning can even be the most exciting time. The anticipation of arrival, especially for first-time visitors, can be filled with great expectations. Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, the tour group will have a brief meeting with a USA Israel tour representative. We will then travel to either Tel Aviv or Netanya for our first night at the hotel where a splendid dinner awaits. The Holy Land visit can be very much a life-changing experience. Tomorrow you will be waking up in the Land where Yeshua- Jesus was born, lived, ministered, and ultimately fulfilled the prophetic Word of God.We highly recommend a good night’s rest as we will be embarking upon the tour early the next morning.
After a hearty Israeli breakfast, we will drive to the Ancient port of Joppa then onward to Caesarea Marittima, where Gentiles first heard the Good News from Peter and were baptized. We will then journey on to Mount Carmel, where Elijah challenged King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Traveling to the Galilee region, through the town of Cana (Miracle – water turned into wine), we will spend overnight in either Tiberias or Nazareth enjoying a traditional Israeli dinner at our hotel.
Following breakfast, our morning travels take us on the paths where Yeshua traversed within the Galilee region. We visit the possible site of the multiplication of loaves and fishes in Tabgha, and onward to the Mount of the Beatitudes. In Capernaum, we view the excavations of the sea-side village and Peter’s home, followed by a visit to Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. The recent excavation of a first-century Synagogue and well-preserved village makes Magdala, situated at the base of Mount Arbel, one of the most interesting antiquity sites in Israel. Magdala is said to be at the crossroads of Jewish and Christian History. A Sea of Galilee boat ride with praise/worship music and relaxing meditative prayer time allows us to reflect upon the historical past, as well as, soak in the presence of the moment. Our day continues onward to the Jordan River Baptismal site at Yardenit. Baptismal options are available for those interested, then we proceed to the hotel for rest and relaxation.
Our day begins with the journey northern bound to the region known as the Golan Heights. In Jewish history, the Golan dates back to Biblical times. With the existence of Jewish life in the area recorded in various texts, including the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Back then, the region was known as Bashan, and the fortified city of Golan functioned as a ‘city of refuge’. In modern times, Israel regained control of this strategic region during the Six Day War in June of 1967. The control of the Golan allows Israel both a military defense stronghold against Syrian aggression, as well as, access to much valuable water sources emanating from the Jordan River. Our day travels will take us to Mount Bental, onward to Tel Dan, and finishing off at Caesarea Philippi an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon. From a historical perspective, this day will transport us back and forth from biblical to modern times. The landscape itself will provide for breathtaking photos. We then will return to the hotel for delicious dinner and a welcome respite.
After a hearty breakfast in Northern Israel, we begin our decent southern bound to Jerusalem. But before we enter the ‘Holy City’, we will stop on the way to visit the city of Nazareth. As you may recall, Nazareth is the city where Yeshua lived most of his life. We will have a tour of Nazareth Village, an open aired museum, that reconstructs and reenacts village life in the Galilee in the time of Yeshua. Next, we will drive to Jerusalem and begin our travels around and within the Holy City. Our first site will be Mount of Olives or Mount Olivet. This is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once completely covered its slopes. A huge religious Jewish cemetery is upon the slopes. Here took place the ascension of Yeshua, this is where Yeshua wept over Jerusalem…and where Messiah gave the Olivet Discourse. Next, we will visit Gethsemane which is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It is in the Garden of Gethsemane where Yeshua is believed to have undergone the agony in the garden and was arrested the night before his crucifixion. This day will spiritually move us to the past, reminiscing and imagining the events as they may have taken place beneath the feet where we have trodden. To the hotel in Jerusalem for rest and relaxation, a scrumptious dinner awaits us and time for reflection and meditation upon history both past and present
As the sun rises upon a new day, we will set out to explore the Holy City of Jerusalem, we will begin by visiting Mount Zion, which is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City. The term ‘’Mount of Zion’’ was used in the Hebrew Bible first in reference to the City of David. Later this term was used for the Temple Mount, but its meaning now is best known to refer to the name of ancient Jerusalem’s Western Wall. The Western Wall, known also as the Wailing Wall, or Kotel is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Originally erected as part of the expansion of the 2ndJewish Temple back in the time King Herod the Great. Sitting upon the Temple Mount, this Holy site is open air for prayer and can host special events such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Moadim which are the ‘’Feasts of the Adonai’’. Next on our agenda will be a tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is here which antiquity historians believe is the site of the crucifixion of Yeshua, as well as, Yeshua’s empty tomb. On to the Jewish Quarter and a special visit to Christ Church Jerusalem. Christ Church was founded in 1849, is a center of prayer for all nations with worship reflecting the Jewish context of the Gospel. This Church itself is part of the wider service of CMJ-Ministries. Proceed to the hotel for another delicious Israeli style buffet dinner: followed by free time for rest and relaxation.
We begin this day by visiting Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The name of the memorial is Yad Vashem: which literally means ‘’a monument and a name’’. Even amidst the pain and tears: there is hope and gratitude in a section of Yad Vashem that honors Righteous Gentiles who selflessly aided Jews. We then travel on to the Israel Museum also in Jerusalem. Here we will be able to take a ‘’Journey through Time and Space”. Then onto the ‘’Shrine of the Book’’ which was originally built as a repository for the first seven scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947. This Museum is uniquely designed to embody the spiritual, as well as, the material contents and antiquity of the past. Quite fittingly as the final stop along today’s journey is the Garden Tomb. For from the pains of death springs forth hope for life. The presence of Messiah in the Garden Tomb is unimaginable. Only one can experience such an emotional/spiritual/mystical vibe solely by visiting this antiquity site. The remaining portion of the day tour will be allocated to free time in Jerusalem.
After breakfast, we will travel to the Dead Sea. Known also as the Sea of Salt, this Salt Lake is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. Our tour guide will have fascinating detailed history and facts relating to the Dead Sea as we learn and experience the world’s saltiest body of water. We may stay at the Dead Sea location with all its amenities such as spas, enjoy some shopping at the local Ahava Factory and Retail Outlet. Other site options for today include Qumran and Masada. Qumran is the location of the unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered back in 1946-47. These ancient Jewish religious manuscripts were found in the Judean Desert within caves near the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Another site to potentially visit is Masada; a fortress built by Herod the Great This tour will begin with a cable car ride to the top of the mountain where two palaces were built and fortified between 37 and 31 BCE. From here our tour guide will delve into the historical and spiritual significance of this antiquity site. The schedule for this day will be of your choosing; either way, it portends to be a magnificent day in the most beautiful part of Israel.
We begin our final day with a traditional Israeli breakfast at the hotel in Jerusalem. Today, we will casually tour some charming cultural sites in and about the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Our first visit will be a quaint hillside village named Ein Karem amongst which is located Church of St. John the Baptist, Mary’s Spring, and stroll along the narrow streets enjoying the many galleries and shops as time permits. The next stop on our excursion today is the Town of Abu Ghosh. The old Arabic name of Abu Ghosh means ‘’Village of the Grapes’’ or in Hebrew ‘’Village of Woods’’. It is believed that this is the historical place where the Ark of the Covenant was taken after it had left Bet Shemesh. Finally, it is onward to Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. The partially open-aired marketplace known to the locals as ‘’The Shuk’’ is popular with locals and tourists alike with over 250 vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetables to wines and cheeses to textiles and Judaica. A very relaxing and interesting day here is planned to balance off the hectic schedule of the prior week touring. A day also to make purchases of gifts and memorabilia. A return to the hotel for our concluding dinner. A time for reflection, packing, exchanging contact info and photos, and in general, a time to unwind.
As we explained in the beginning, the start of any journey may be the most exciting stage because of the expectations and curiosity. As well, so may the concluding day be filled with a sense of sadness with the realization of parting with newly formed friendships, a parting from the Land of Israel, and the parting of the adrenaline derived from traveling in the ‘Footsteps of Yeshua’’. Cherish the memories, friendships, and continue in the spiritual footsteps of Yeshua wherever your home may be. We will transfer to the airport today and conclude our visit to Israel.