Israel...Day Two

To say we hit the ground running would be some sort of cliche, maybe an oxymoron but oh so true.  After a much needed sleep I woke early to run sea side.  I love running in a new city.  Watching the place wake up, locals walking their dogs, the sounds of morning activities and crashing waves.  For me, it was the best way to start the day.  And then it was on to the bus and time to travel.  Today began at Caesarea Maritime.   A port built by Herod the Great and at the center of Israel.  We sat in the theatre and gazed out at the artificial harbor that Herod had built.  Sure, some of the stone had been replaced but there were original stones there, remains of pillars and grandeur that once existed.  This place was a bustling port during it's time and also the same city where Peter was sentenced to prison, where the Apostle James was beheaded and the port from which Paul sailed to Tarsus after his conversion.  In the very theatre we sat in Paul pleaded his case after his arrest in Jerusalem.  Water had eroded and covered most of the city until it was discovered by airplane pilots flying over.  They noticed a black-ish coloring beneath the surface and with that excavations began, uncovering an important city with a theatre, city streets, marketplace, aqueducts, temples, baths and homes.  We wandered around and then down to the water.  It was there with my feet on the stone, watching fisherman stand at the water's edge, atop the ruins, that a certain awe overtook  me.  Thing 2 and her friend were navigating the stones and venturing further out, fearless and perhaps unaware of the significance of the place they were standing; What it once was.  What it meant to have unearthed such a treasure key to our faith.  The moment was not lost on me and as I took their photo I snapped a mental one for me.  One to lock away and remember forever.

My shell, just a little keepsake from the day.

Thing 2 and Adventure Buddy.

And then on to Mount Carmel.  A lush mountain range overlooking Haifa.  Baal was worshipped at this site, grand statues and monuments erected in his honor, until the people ceased to worshiping their little "g" god and the God of the universe answered Elijah.  Worth taking note of?  Yes.  Our God does not fail.  He is not crushed or scared or intimidated by the false idols of His people.  He always prevails.  Megiddo was our next stop, or more commonly referred to as the setting of Revelation's Armageddon, (Revelation 16:13-16) and a battlefield like no other.  Numerous wars have been waged in this valley, a Canaanite city was found here, and today it still is one of the most contested territories on the Via Maris.  We were able to walk around the site, taking in the wells, the walls and even descending underground.   There was an outlook to view the Jezreel valley and across the valley Aaron called our attention to the mountain in the distance.  He claimed that was Deborah the Prophetess' mountain.  Such a sweet moment for me.  I have studied Deborah.  Read her story and been intrigued by her.  She was a judge, approximately 200 years after Joshua had lead the people into the Holy Land.  Deborah lead the Israelites in a battle over the Canaanites and brought peace to her people.  Her song is a testimony to God's power and might and is still sung by the Jewish community today.  Deborah is considered one of the seven mothers of the Jewish faith, quite a feat for a woman and an example for me.  From taking in Deborah's mountain to taking selfies with recent high school graduates.  Just a day in the life here in Israel.

The Jezreel Valley, Deborah's mountain in the distance.

Underground at Megiddo

The Group!

Our last site for the day was "Nazareth".  A village that had been constructed to depict how it would have been in Jesus' day.  Nazareth, the place where the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary, the place where Jesus grew up until moving to Capernaum, the place where He taught in the synagogues.  Here we went on a journey of sorts, staring at a cross that would have been most like what Jesus was hung on.  We traveled through time to see Lydia (Acts 14), weaving with royal purple  wool, dyed by rare Mediterranean snails.  The land was littered with almond, cypress and olive trees, every which way.  There were donkeys working the land, an olive press and so much more to take in.

With our day coming to a close we boarded the bus for our destination for the next few days, on to the Sea of Galilee.  No time to waste once arriving, we jumped into our bathing suits and headed to the water.  Our hotel was on the Sea, a most breathtaking view.  My roomie and I jumped off the concrete block into the water and I let the rush of blood and adrenaline take over.  I felt 10 years old again.  Giddy as could be and completely in the moment.  Other tourists looked on and a couple joined in.  There we were adults and kids and foreigners all squealing in delight and swimming together, in the Sea of Galilee.  Let me retype that, because I do believe I wrote it twice in my journal.  I was swimming in the Sea of Galilee.

Olive tree in Nazareth


The Sea of Galilee, moon rising.

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