Israel

Key Country Facts

Population: 10 million
Historical & Interesting Facts:

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, at a striking 1,315 feet below sea level!

Top Activities and Places to Visit:

Israel National Trail, the Jesus Trail, Golan Heights Trail, Machtesh Ramon

Other Information:

Major exports: machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel.

At the Dead Sea reading a newspaper!
Literally at Armageddon!
On the Sea of Galilee … near where the “Sermon on the Mount” was preached.
In Jerusalem near the Church and the Mosque
Reflecting at the Garden of Gethsemane
Jordan River

Country Information:

Israel, a country only half the size of Lake Michigan! The capital of Israel is Jerusalem. There are approximately 10 million people living here. The official languages of Israel are Hebrew, Arabic, and English. The majority of Israelis practice Judaism, while a minority practices Islam. The time zone is 8 hours ahead of EST.

When visiting Israel, adventurers should definitely go hiking on any or all of three trails—the Israel National Trail, the Jesus Trail, or the Golan Heights Trail. These trails are home to major historic religious sites. Also of interest is Machtesh Ramon, a 40km crater that is a great look out to breath-taking desert views. Most of all, don’t miss out on Tel Aviv, the city known for its spectacular White City, Bauhaus architecture, and vibrant Jaffa Flea Market!

Jim’s Perspectives:

Israel: This was one of the few packaged tours I have taken … and loved it!

  • En route to our Tel Aviv hotel (time permitting), we stop for a panoramic view and our first scriptural reading in Old Jaffa (Joppa), where Jonah boarded a ship (1:3), and Peter restored Tabitha and had his rooftop vision (Acts 9, 10).
  • Check into our hotel, near the Mediterranean beach.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Day Three:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Drive north to Caesarea, built by Herod the Great as a major port city. Here Peter converted Cornelius (Acts 10) and Paul was imprisoned and defended his faith (Acts 25, 26). Visit the ancient Roman theater, read scripture, and stroll along the Mediterranean shore.
  • Travel to Carmel, to the site known as Mukhraka, where Elijah engaged in a contest with the false prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). The rooftop gives a stunning panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley, identified with “Armageddon” of Revelation 16, the arena of the great end-time battle.
  • Lunch on own, en route.
  • An innovation in our program is Beit She’arim, fascinating Jewish catacombs from the Roman period – with a story to tell.
  • Precipiceoffers a bird’s-eye view of Nazareth, and of a valley soaked in Biblical tales.
  • Check into our kibbutz hotel, in the verdant Upper Galilee, for the first of three nights.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Day Four:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • We walk in the footsteps of Jesus today, in the region where his ministry began.
  • Read the “Sermon on the Mount” on the “Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional site overlooking the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 5, 6, 7). These profound passages contain the essence of Jesus’ ethical teachings.
  • View the extraordinary 2,000-year-old fishing boat from the time of the Gospels (compare Matt. 15:39), uncovered in the mud of the lake shore.
  • Enjoy a ride on the Sea of Galilee in a boat inspired by the ancient fishing vessels of the time of Jesus. We will cut the engines off-shore for some worshipful moments of scripture and song.
  • Take some contemplative time on the lake shore at Tabgha (the so-called “Primacy” site), identified with the reappearance of Jesus after his resurrection (John 21), and the trust he bestowed on Peter (“feed my sheep”).
  • 12:30 p.m. Enjoy a lunch of St. Peter’s fish. There are meat options for non-pescetarians, but think of it as a scriptural experience, not a menu item! (This is a pre-paid included meal.)
  • The Jewish town of Capernaum was chosen by Jesus as the home base of his Galilean ministry (Matt. 4:13). Here he taught and healed (Mark 1:21). The huge ruined ancient synagogue is the focal point of the site.
  • Wind down this very scriptural day at the excavated ruins of Bethsaida, hometown of some of the disciples and a place of miracles (Mark 8:22; Luke 9:10). This was also the site of the Old Testament city of Geshur, whose king was an ally (and father-in-law) of David. University of Nebraska led the dig here.
  • Return to the hotel for dinner.

Day Five:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • The highlight of the Tel DanNature Reserve, located on the largest tributary of the Jordan River, is the extensive Old Testament city of Dan (Joshua 19:47). We will see the great Israelite gate, an outstanding example of the Biblical place of contracts (Gen. 23:17; Ruth 4:1) and of judgment (Amos 5:10), as well as Jeroboam’s “high place” (1 Kings 12:28).
  • Proceed to the Baniasspring, at the base of Mt. Hermon, one of the sources of the Jordan River. This is ancient Caesarea Philippi, where Peter declared the nature of Jesus and was given the mantle of leadership (Matt. 16:13).
  • Ascend the Golan Heightsand hunker in a bunker (an old Syrian one), with a view into Israel as the Syrians would have seen it before the 6-Day War of 1967. Drive to the current border with Syria (circumstances permitting) for an insight into the region’s hot contemporary issues.
  • Our guide Mike will offer a pre-dinner Q&A session on topics of contemporary Israel.
  • Dinner at the hotel. 

Day Six:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Check out and begin a day that will bring us to the Holy City of Jerusalem!
  • Stop at the Kinneret Cemeteryat the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee to hear about the dreams of the early Zionist pioneers, and share the lyrical verse of Rachel the Poetess.
  • Take time for a baptism ceremony at the Jordan River. It is some way upstream from the original ancient site, but the memory lingers here too (good changing facilities are available).
  • Travel down the Jordan Valley, passing Jericho– the world’s oldest city, Joshua’s first conquest (Josh. 6), and the town where Jesus cured a blind man (Mark 10:46).
  • Ascend to Jerusalemthrough the arid Judean Desert, entering the city from the east with a psalm and a prayer.
  • Our guided tour of the Jerusalem Archaeological Parkincludes the famous southern steps – where Jesus may actually have walked! – and a film on Jewish pilgrimage in ancient times.
  • The Western Wall (the “Wailing Wall”) is the most sacred surviving shrine for the Jewish people. It is part of the great retaining wall of the ancient Temple Mount, and its holiness for Jews lies in its proximity to the destroyed House of God.
  • Check into our well-located Jerusalem hotel
  • Dinnerat the hotel.

Day Seven:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • 9:15 a.m. Special visit to the tranquil Garden Tomb, believed by many Christians to be the site of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. Engaging explanations by a local guardian is followed by Communion.
  • Drive up to the crest of of Olives for a breath-taking panorama of the Old City, an in-depth explanation, and a photo-op. Walk down the Palm Sunday Road (Matt. 21).
  • Continue to the Garden of Gethsemane, with its unimaginably old olive trees, identified with Jesus’ last solitary contemplation and prayer, and his betrayal and arrest.
  • Drive up to Zion, a hill of sanctity for both Jews and Christians.
  • Take in two panoramic views: one of Jerusalem from the south (the Promenade), the other toward the not-so-little town of Bethlehem(now in Palestinian territory).
  • Welcome in the “Shabbat”, the Jewish Sabbath, with dinner at the hotel.

Day Eight:

  • Early breakfast at the hotel.
  • Descend through the Judean Desertto the Dead Sea basin, passing the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25).
  • Take the cable car up Masadato explore King Herod’s mountain palace, and the site of the Jewish rebels’ last stand against the Romans a century later. The remarkable fortress has become a symbol of resistance in modern Israel.
  • View the Ein Gedioasis, where David hid from King Saul (1 Sam. 24).
  • Drive to Qumran, a settlement of a 1st-century Jewish monastic sect (probably the “Essenes”), and the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and found.
  • Experience weightlessness as you float in the super-saline Dead Sea.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Day Nine:

  • Early breakfast at the hotel.
  • We visit the Temple Mount, site of both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple (the one Jesus knew). The huge plaza contains the golden Dome of the Rockand the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest in the Muslim world.
  • Proceed to the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus cured the lame man (John 5), and enjoy the amazing acoustics of the medieval Church of St. Annewith a praise song or two.
  • Weather permitting, we hope to hold our Sunday worship servicein a corner of the Garden of this scriptural site.
  • Enter the Old City through Jaffa Gate, and walk through the Christian Quarterto the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with its complex mix of traditions, and colorful crowds of pilgrims from many lands.
  • Walk through the Arab “souk” (market) to the Jewish Quarter. See King Hezekiah’s Broad Wallfrom the days of Isaiah, ruined mansions from the Herodian period, and the “Cardo” (Jerusalem’s main street 15 centuries ago).
  • The rest of the afternoon is FREE TIME to relax or explore more on your own.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Day Ten:

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Take in a view of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and an explanation of the magnificent bronze Menorah (large 7-branched candelabra) across the way.
  • Visit the world-class Israel Museum: The Dead Sea Scrolls, a huge outdoor model of Jerusalem in the days of Jesus, and some Bible-related archaeological exhibits.
  • The City of David was the core of Old Testament Jerusalem. It’s an exciting Biblical site that offers various options, according to how fit and intrepid, or how tired and limited you feel (J).
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Jim's Mile Marker

UN Recognized Countries

193

Countries Visited

190

Featured Destination

AZERBAIJAN