Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Israel Day One

Tel Aviv to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee

            I just returned from the Holy Land and want to share with you some of the things I saw and maybe some thoughts on the sites.  There were so many places that I visited and I want to try to think through them as I share them with you.  I hope you enjoy my pictures and ponderings!

I was there from January 8 - 17.  I met up with a group from Oregon for the tour.  Last July I saw a post on Facebook from the hosting Pastor saying there were still spots open for the group.  I found it was in my price range and was during a slower time for work in Kenya.  I have always wanted to visit the Holy Land and see the places where Jesus lived and ministered and this seemed to be the time to do it. 

I landed in Tel Aviv at 2:40 am.  It was too early to try to figure out my way to Galilee, so I just sat for a few hours and tried to sleep a little.  I eventually found the free bus that would take me to the Tel Aviv train station from the airport.  I had to take a taxi from the train station to the bus station.  Once there, I found the bus that would take me to Tiberias.  It took a little over two hours to get there with a few stops along the way.  I was going to meet up with my group there at the hotel. 

Tiberias on the SW side of the Sea of Galilee

Once I made it to the hotel I took a short nap before I went exploring.  I walked along the Tiberias Promenade.  It runs along the Sea of Galilee.  The Sea was smaller than I expected.  It is about 13 miles long and only 8 miles wide at it's widest point.  It is shaped like a harp.  It plays such a large part of Jesus’ life that I always imagined it bigger.  Tiberias is on the southwest side of the Sea.  Jesus could have seen it when he was home in Capernaum as it is a very large city on a hill.  Scripture never says he visited it but this is probably because it had been built on a cemetery.  That would have made it unclean for Jews.  After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD it eventually became the center for Jewish scholarship.  It had to be cleansed before this happened.

Panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee from my hotel
Here are a few pictures from my afternoon walk.  I hope you enjoy them.

Looking to the NW (I think) from Tiberias

the NW side of the Sea
looking East from the Promenade

We didn't visit but I thought the signage was cool
art work outside a private hot springs pool next to the Sea

art at a round-about
My hotel - the Royal Plaza

The avenue down to the Sea
towel art - the first & only on the trip

It was a little overwhelming to think that I was so near the Sea of Galilee!  I enjoyed the walk and just exploring a little.  There were a lot of cats along the promenade.  I think people put out food for them as they are all over Israel.  That made it feel like home :).  

A city on a hill seen on my way to Tiberias from the bus
On the bus on the way to Tiberias, I saw several small towns and cities on hills.  I know it may sound silly, but in looking at these towns, I kept hearing the words of Jesus saying, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”  I realized how Jesus used something very common that most people would not even think of in his teaching.  It is very obvious once you look around that hilly country.  When he said this, he was saying that we who follow him are the light of the world.  We are to be the light of the world just like those cities were on the hills.  They were obvious and stood out to anyone who looked that way.  Do we shine out for all to see?  Are we obviously Christ followers to any who look our way?  Just some thoughts to ponder from my first day in Israel.