Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 5 of Touring through The Holy Land

We were off bright and early this morning. It was our last night in the Galilee. What a wonderful time we had here.

Our first stop was Mount Tabor where Judge Deborah led the soldiers of Israel out to battle. What a brave, courageous, God-fearing woman she was. Such a great legacy she left. So as we stood on top of this mount, we contemplated on what type of legacy we'd like to leave, how are people around us going to remember us as. It was a good thing to think about today. I also really liked the church up here, not to gawdy looking but very tasteful in it's decor.

Then we stopped at Gideon Springs where God took Gideon and his soldiers to choose the 300 who would fight in battle with him. God won that battle for Gideon because of his obedience and faith. My favorite part of being in this place is how our tour guide, Arie, shares of his own personal courageous and successful war story which included him reading the story of Gideon from Judges 7, over the war tank speaker to all his 30 tanks that he was in charge of. The battle was fierce and his soldiers were afraid but after he read this story of Gideon and prayed with his men, which by the way was against the rules to be doing this over the radios in the tanks, Arie and his team of men took on new courage and were at the front lines as the Israel soldiers pushed Egypt back to their own land until they were 6 miles from Cairo. It was another emotional time as Arie shared this personal testimony of being of great courage and having faith in The Almighty God that He was with them and going before them in battle. WOW! SOooo moving!

Our next stop was the old ancient city of Bet Shean. It was in this Gilboa mountain range that King Saul and Jonathon were killed in battle and their bodies were hung on these walls of Bet Shean. This city showed how much of the Roman world infiltrated the Jewish culture with all it's gods and goddesses and it's focus on the human body, rather than keeping the focus on living wholeheartedly for God. Again this is often the struggle with us nowadays, filling our lives with so much other things that we feel are so necessary and therefore it is a continual challenge to living a life that honors and pleases God. We allow so many things of the world to demand our attention that we don't give ourselves time and devotion to God in prayer, meditation and studying His Word. Yes we need to live and life has its responsibilities but we can begin and end each day with God and involve Him in each aspect of our day rather than go throughout the day living as we please as if there is no God.

After lunch we continued on down the road away from the Galilee towards the Dead Sea, passing herds of camels and sheep with their fun to see them! :) Qumran was where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. It was quite something to hear of how the Essenes lived in those days and how they wrote and hid the scrolls. What a rich history!

We arrived at a beautiful Kibbutz on the shores of the Sea. What an oasis of a humble community with cattle, and horses, a hotel that was all spread out ground level in small cottage like rooms. We all loved staying here! The grounds were filled with sidewalks through palm trees and blooming bushes. The cows, roosters and dogs sang in the background and the bright open sky glistened above us. In the valley a short distance below was the Dead Sea. What a wonderful place to be. It's a perfect place to have a ladies retreat sometime.....oh wait, we are having one right now. :)

At 7pm we entered the dining area that was partially filled with some guests like us, but mostly he Jewish families that lived on this Kibbutz. As the Father of the Kibbutz rose to give the blessing over the meal, commemorating the bread and the wine and reciting the Jewish words, my heart overflowed and my eyes filled with tears. I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly meaningful this was to be included so intimately in this age old tradition. Friday night is the beginning of Shabbat and the whole family gathers together to celebrate Shabbat. Arie, our tour guide, drove for 2 1/2 hours back to Tel Aviv to be at home with his family for the Shabbat meal. He said the long drive is always worth spending Friday nights with his whole is the greatest joy of the week. I wish we had more of that in our culture, in our families. Truly enjoying the Sabbath and spending wholesome time together as a family. What an wonderful traditiin and celebration. I was so deeply grateful to be a part of it. Us ladies enjoyed walks, visiting and playing Skipbo while Kyrstin and Danielle were invited to go spend time with the youth on the Kibbutz. What an incredible memory we have this day.


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