ISRAEL: February 20 - March 2, 2020 "The Life and Land of Jesus" with Mill Creek Church (Program #200201)

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Day One: Departure: Depart USA for Tel Aviv, Israel. Overnight: In flight.

Day Two: Arrival: As we arrive at Ben Gurion Airport (located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) we get a wonderful aerial view of Israel. We begin to connect with the Land on the drive from the airport to the hotel, across from the Mediterranean beach. After dinner together everyone will be ready for a good night’s rest! Overnight: Tel Aviv area. B,D

Day Three: Four Conflicts in the Background of the Gospels: Highlighting four example sites, this study focuses on four key conflicts in the background of Jesus' public ministry. Traveling north along the ancient coastal Via Maris, we visit the massive excavations at Caesarea and learn of the Roman governate that ruled during the time of Jesus. On Mt. Carmel we discuss the story of Elijah, and how his choices apply to our daily lives. Driving through the Valley of Armageddon brings us to Zippori, with connections to Jesus’ childhood, as well as Roman imageries found in Paul’s writings. Overnight: Nazareth. B,D

Day Four: Characteristics of the Disciples: We will investigate the background, education and theology of the disciples. Before leaving Nazareth we visit the cave homes from the time of Jesus, which gives us special insights to apply when we visit Bethlehem. Crossing lower Galilee we drive to the top of the cliffs of Arbel where we can view the “gospel triangle” of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. The excavations at Capernaum show us the home base for Jesus and His disciples. On the Mt. of Beatitudes we focus on the cultural implications of Jesus’ teachings there. At the Yigal Alon Museum we see the display of a boat from the time of Jesus, and then we board a larger replica for our sail on the Sea of Galilee. The new excavations at Migdal allow us to see an actual synagogue that Jesus probably taught in, and to consider the influence of women in the background of Jesus’ ministry. Overnight: By the Sea of Galilee (2 nights). B,D

Day Five: Private Teachings for the Disciples: Our focus will be on the common teaching style of the ancient rabbis. Today we visit the Golan Heights which is biblical Bashan. The melting snows of Mt. Hermon rush through the Dan Nature Reserve to form the Jordan River. Walking on paths beside those headwaters brings us to Tel Dan, and the remains of Jeroboam’s pagan altar. As we exit the tel we see a complete, huge mud-brick Canaanite city gate from the time of Abraham. What a journey through history! Then we stop at Caesarea Philippi, the region of Peter’s confession in Mark 8. Driving through the Golan and stopping at the overlook into Syria will make modern issues much more understandable. The reconstructed Talmudic Village at Katzrin brings awareness of life during the century that followed Jesus’ death. Overnight: By the Sea of Galilee. B,D

Day Six: The Perean Ministry of Jesus: We will address the issues of the Perean Ministry, with particular examination of Luke 10-19. Leaving Galilee we tour the impressive Roman ruins at Beth Shean (biblical Scythopolis). Then we drive south through the Jordan Valley while viewing the hills of Samaria on our right and the country of Jordon (Perea) just across the river on our left. After lunch we visit Qumran and discuss the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls and their confirmation of the accuracy of our scriptures. We are scheduled to arrive at our spa hotel about 3:00 so you have time to enjoy the unique waters of the Dead Sea (or just relax and make use of the facilities of the hotel!). Overnight: Dead Sea spa hotel. B,D

Day Seven: Hebrew Themes of the Wilderness: From the desert storm of Habakkuk, to the salt covenant of David, various Biblical wilderness themes will be highlighted. A cable car will take us to the top of Masada as we visit the site of one of Herod’s fortress-palaces, and the last holdout of the zealots after the fall of Jerusalem. Then driving through the Judean wilderness helps us understand the story of David hiding from Saul in the caves of Ein Gedi. In the oasis of Jericho we learn to answer scoffers who don’t believe the biblical accounts. Then it’s “up to Jerusalem”. What a thrilling time to finally enter the Holy City … the one place that God claims as His own! Overnight: Jerusalem (4 nights). B,D

Day Eight: Messianic Expectations (AM): Our day starts with a panoramic overview of the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. At the bottom of the slope we will see the ancient olive trees and walk in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayedAcross the Kidron Valley we stop at the House of Caiaphas (the High Priest) with its dungeon where it is believed Jesus was held prior to his trial. Setting of the Birth Narrative (PM): Then we will take a short drive south to Bethlehem to visit the area of Jesus’ birth. Our focus is the Church of the Nativity (conditions permitting) and the area of theShepherds’ Fields. (The story of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz would have also taken place on these hills.) … and finally time for shopping at an olive wood store owned by an Arab believerJerusalem. B,D

Day Nine: A Living People. Our visit to Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust, will be very moving and help us to understand the pain the Jews have experienced. Driving to Jaffa Gate, we walk through the Christian Quarter to the Jewish Quarter. It encompasses many historical eras: the Broad Wall of Nehemiah; the Cardo; the modern-day Hurvah Synagogue (destroyed in 1948 and rebuilt in 2010); and modern residences. Throughout history many people have attempted to destroy the Jewish people, but today they are still alive and vibrant! Messianic Expectations and Disappointments: With a view of the history of "other Messiahs" we will discuss the expectations for the Messiah, and their relationship to the record of the preaching of Jesus.We’ll visit the Western (Wailing) Wall plaza, and the South Wall excavations (Davidson Center)with the steps where Jesus would have entered the Temple. Overnight: Jerusalem. B.D

Day Ten: Jewish Questionings and Roman Trials of Jesus: The arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus will be our subject as we journey through the "salvation geography" of Jerusalem in the Gospel According to John. Our morning begins with a visit to the Temple Mount. Walking through the city we follow the Via Dolorosa (traditional Way of Sorrow) from the Pools of Bethesda (where Jesus healed the lame man) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This location was outside the ancient city walls, and the presence of kokhim-style tombs makes it a likely candidate for the site of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. After lunch we walk to the Garden Tomb. There, in a beautiful garden, we commemorate and reflect on the resurrection, and enjoy communion together. We’ll have a brief time to finish shopping, or to prepare ourselves for our return flight Tuesday. Overnight: Jerusalem. B,D

Day Eleven: Return

Depart Israel with flights arriving back in the USA later the same day.