Imbi Medri-Kinnon has sent the following report from the group led by Prof. Marion Taylor in Israel:
18 Feb. 2007 This evening (Sunday) finds us 600 feet below sea level at the Sea of Galilee having begun our day at Caesarea, then visiting Mt. Carmel (Prophets of Baal fame )and Sepphoris (capital of Galilee at the time of Jesus birth) and Nazareth. This day, entitled Kingdom's and Cultures in Conflict in our travel calendar, reminded us of the essential Jewishness of our faith, and laid the groundwork for understanding some of the political forces shaping this land of promise.
The travel is going well; Dr. Notley is not only a knowledgeable NT scholar, but very good at keeping the 51 of us moving along. We began touring in the Negev "the Land of Promise" yesterday visiting Tel Arad, Beersheva-The southern gateway to the Promised Land, Lachish - the largest city in the south till it was raised by Sennacharib, the Elah Valley- site of David's victory over Goliath, Beth Shemesh- Samson's home and the area where the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant after stealing it, and T.Gezer, one of the fortified cities of Solomon. This last site is about to have some serious digging done.
Some of the realities of being here include a recognition of the beauty of the land; we are here at the end of winter, signaled by the flowering of the almond trees, and a haze of green and flowering shrubs as well as flowers in the desert lands. A real understanding is beginning to dawn about the relationship of the geography and its impact to and on the stories of both the Old and New Testament.
This morning began with a wake up call from God just before the hotel wake up came through. A single brilliant crackle of lightning, followed by THE loudest crack of thunder right over our heads got most of us out of bed pretty quick:) I am reminded as I sit here that things are difficult in this country as I listen to a helicopter, apparently patrolling over head.
Please pray for continuing safety, health and stamina for us as we are privileged to see and have made very real for us this place- so fundamental to our studies and our lives as Christians. Blessings from the sea of Galilee - wow!
19 Feb. 2007
Today began as usual, wake up call at 6:00, breakfast at 7:00, and on the bus at 8:00. We explored the northern borders of Israel, skirting Lebanon on one side, and Syria on the other.
With a beautiful sunny sky and wonderful temperatures, we started at Hazor -those of you who have taken OT with Marion will remember it from the archaeological movie we saw..... "and this is Joshua....." remember it? Pretty phenomenal to stand in the reconstructed palace of Jabin.
From there we moved on to Dan, part of a wonderful national park. We went upriver to one of the many sources of the Jordan, where springs bubble up water fresh enough to drink from (which many of us did.) We were challenged by Jeremiah 1:13 referring to the Lord as life-giving living water, preferring to turn to leaky cisterns instead. (This was particularly challenging having just checked out the elaborate cistern that was 45+ metres underground at Hazor).
From there we did an unscheduled stop at Banias Waterfall, which comes down from Mount Hermon. An additional headwater for the Jordan, it was appearing all over the place as well. We had a few moments downstream of the waterfall in the gorge to reflect on Psalm 42.
Moving on to Caesaria Philippi, we were reminded of Jesus question of the disciples "Who do people say that I am?", which was asked here.
Again, the fascinating thing was the multiple sources of spring water from Mount Hermon. The crowning glory (no pun intended} was Nimrod's castle, an incredible crusader fortress, at the place believed to be the Mount of Transfiguration. We enjoyed over-looking the snow on Mount Hermon 9000' starting from 600' below sea level is a huge change in altitude. This is one of the surprises of this country - its vertical heights and astounding views for miles. The other surprise is for as big as Israel is in our collective imaginations, it is actually a very small place physically, yet incredibly diverse.
Having stopped for cinnamon tea and various goodies at a Druse cafe, we traversed the Golan Heights on the way back to our accommodations at the south east corner of the sea of Galilee. We did evening prayers on the bus while driving into the setting sun.
Tomorrow we concentrate on the area right around The Sea of Galilee.
20 Feb. 2007 We are motoring across the Sea of Galilee as I send this. We have had a Canadian flag hoisted, sung O Canada, and are listening to " I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" - a line of which includes " when your love came down". Unfortunately, about 10 people are not feeling well - perhaps a touch of food poisoning and some have missed some or all of today. Please keep us in your prayers as you are in ours.
Read the full report by Imbi with many photos in the document below.