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Nathanael Martin 

This November, I had the privilege of visiting the Holy Lands on an amazing 8 day tour with my cousin, Josiah. We flew into Amman, Jordan to begin our tour with a visit to Petra, often considered one of the seven wonders of the world. This rock hewn city, over 2,000 years old is really incredible! Everywhere you look are the ruins of houses, temples, tombs and streets carved from solid rock. Nowadays no one lives there but the Bedouins spend their days hawking souvenirs and offering camel or donkey rides. It was pretty funny to see a man leading a donkey, yelling “Taxi! Taxi!”


Our second day led us to Mt. Nebo, which is where Moses viewed the Promised Land just before he died. It was a bit hazy, but we could barely see the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea. It was amazing to think we were standing in the very place Moses stood nearly three thousand years ago.


After crossing into Israel we spent a night along the beautiful Mediterranean coast, then turned north to begin our holy land tour in earnest. We visited the ruins of Herod’s fortress at Cesarea, then drove to the top of Mt. Carmel overlooking the valley of Megiddo where Elijah and the prophets of Baal proved who was the true God by fire from heaven. Then we toured Megiddo itself, the ancient tel there contains 23 layers of civilization dating back to the time of Abraham plus the world heritage site of Ahab’s tunnel leading from inside the city to the spring of water just outside. Our final stop for the day was Nazareth, where we toured a reconstruction of what the village might have been like in Jesus day including an authentic first century winepress. We arrived that night for three nights at a beautiful kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee.


While at the Sea of Galilee we saw so many places and so much history it was almost numbing! We visited the mount of beatitudes, the traditional site of the feeding of the 5,000, Capernaum, and the Jesus boat, an authentic first century fishing boat excavated a few years ago from the lake. Turning north we visited Dan, by the border of Lebanon and saw the very altar where Jeroboam set up his golden calf in defiance of God. It made us a bit nervous driving past the border of Syria, only 35 miles from Damascus, and seeing fences and signs along the road saying “Danger! Minefield!” The most amazing experience we had was Friday evening as boarded a replica of the Jesus boat for a cruise on the lake. The sun was setting and the Biblical Sabbath beginning as we sailed the very waters Jesus spent so much time on, listening to sacred music. Truly an unforgettable experience!


After the Sea of Galilee we went south to the Dead Sea, visiting Bet Shean, where the Philistines hung Saul & his sons after they were killed, and Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The next morning had free time to float in the Dead Sea, really amazing! Then we went to the mountaintop fortress of Masada, built by Herod the Great and the last stand of the Jewish rebels in the first century. After dinner that evening in Abraham’s tent we arrived in Jerusalem.


Our last two days were packed as we visited the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, the pool of Bethesda, and the Via Dolorosa. We took a slightly nerve-wracking side trip to the Palestinian territories where Bethlehem is located–-all went fine but it felt like a completely different country! We also were privileged to visit the actual Temple Mount, which many groups are unable to do as it’s often closed and always very restricted. The atmosphere was quite tense, but it was incredible to think of how many things had transpired beneath our feet all the way from Abraham offering his son upon Mt. Moriah until Christ who spent much time in the second temple of his time.


Our final stop was at the Garden Tomb where our group celebrated that wherever Christ’s tomb really is, it’s empty. He is not there, He is risen! Truly this trip was unforgettable and lifechanging! The Middle East has many problems but our tour operators kept us safe and we had no issues whatsoever. If you ever want to walk where Jesus walked, give us a call–-we can highly recommend options for you that will make the Bible come alive like nothing else.

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