ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE- DEC 31, 2010
We began our day at Mitzpe Ramon near the Wilderness of Zin. It was windy and chilly. This is unique in this high desert area that is very dry year round with an annual rainfall of only 4 inches. Our immediate stop was at the Makhtesh Ramon observation point where we had an overview of the Makhtesh. This is the Grand Canyon of Israel. Stunning views. One day we will do a jeep trip thru the Makhtesh but not this trip.
We drove north to Avdat once a great desert city of the Nabataean Kingdom. This was the second largest of the Nabataean cities, Petra in Jordan was the largest. It is located 65 km south of Beer Sheva on Route 40. Our visit focused on the wine press and the two churches located on the top of the Tel. The North Church, the Church of St. Theodore is dated to the middle of the 5th century and it abuts a 3rd century tower. The entry to the church has a cruciform baptismal font where a person could be baptized by immersion.
The drive north to Beersheva gave everyone a very good view of the Negev. We went through the western edge of the Wilderness of Zin. Israel upon its movement toward the Promised Land moved thru the Wilderness of Zin. On the drive north we discussed road systems in ancient times and other details related to Avedat.
Tel Beersheva included a visit to Abraham’s Well, and the Israelite fortress. Also a group photo at the entry gate. This site dates back more than 3,000 years. In the Old Testament, ‘from Dan to Beersheva is a stereotyped expression for the limits of the land of Israel (Judges 20:1; 1 Sam. 3:20; etc.)
Tragically the time did not permit a stop at Aroma Coffee, we had already passed two great opportunities for stopping. A two hour drive north from Beersheva and we were ready to stop for lunch at the mall in Or Akiva which has a McDonalds, an excellent Aroma Coffee and other fast food restaurants.
After lunch we visited Caesarea beginning at the Theater and then north to Herod’s House, the hippodrome, the New Testament harbor and the Crusader City. This place was the beginning of the Gentile Christian Church. We noted the significant aqueduct that brought water from the Carmel Mountains which made Caesarea habitable.
Our final stop today was Muhraqa (the sacrifice) at the top of Mount Carmel. This is the traditional site for Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-46.) The Carmelite Order has a monastery at this location.
Our bus ride took about an hour from Mt. Carmel to our Galilee home for 4 nights, Maagan Guesthouse located on the Southern end of the Sea of Galilee. If you are ever in Israel and can stay in Galilee I would recommend Maagan to you. I have posted on my website: virtualtravels.com their phone numbers and address.
This was a good first day of touring. Our site devotionals were stirring. JP Cox shared at Beersheva how when you experience helplessness and there is nothing you can do about a difficulty how wonderfully significant the Lord’s presence and power is. Dr. Jim Parker did an excellent presentation on the bus about the Nabataean Kingdom and road systems of the Biblical Middle East. Dr. Dukes sharing from 1 Peter did an monologue as Peter and brought Peter as a Biblical Character to life. Dr. Warren began our Bible Study in Acts tonight. Dr. Lan Leavell presented the site devotional at Caesarea and Dr. David Leavell shared at Muhraqa. My heart and soul has been deeply stirred and encouraged. Ginger Moskau shared at the beginning of our Bible Study how the Lord is using her in the Women’s Ministry at Bethel Community in New Orleans.