Israel Day 6: Sea of Galilee, Mt of the Beatitudes, Tagaba, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Kursi

We have early start at 8am. We're told this is the hottest day yet of our tour. 100+ degrees. Yikes. As Dr. Hannah would say, "Water is cheaper than dehydration" (so drink up).

I forgot to post a picture from the hotel room of where we're staying.

Can't get much better than right on the shore. This photo is courtesy of Jack Porter, my friend and fellow photographer on the trip. We both had Canon cameras, so we were swapping lenses the entire trip. So fun!

In the morning we walk down the shore to a dock where we board a wide boat that we are to take across the Sea of Galilee. We launch off from the dock and music starts to play. That's right.... the USA National Anthem.

After that, Yuval took this time to teach us about the Sea:
- It's really a lake but called a sea because it behaves like a sea.
- Largest body of fresh water in Israel
- 150 ft. deep
- Waves get to 6-7 feet high during storms

The boat stopped for a pit stop in the middle of the sea and from there we looked all around and could essentially see 80% of all the spots where Jesus' ministry was.

This is definitely a moment where we take it all in. We're seeing things we've always hoped we could see. Tiberias - where we're staying. Valley of the Doves - where Jesus walked down from Nazareth. Migdal - where Mary Magdalene was from. Mt. of the Beatitudes - where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Capernaum - where Jesus did a majority of his ministry and lived. Bethsaida - Peter, Philip, 7 Andrew lived here. Many of these places we'll visit today.

Dr. Hannah takes time to give us a morning devotional from Matthew 14. Jesus walks on water. The point he draws out is "Your either in the storm, coming out of one, or about to be in one. Throughout it all Jesus is." He then reads from Mark 6:51-52. This is right after Jesus has just fed the 5,000. Each one of his disciples had a full basket (more than the boy had to begin with) and they learned nothing. Insight: You learn nothing from good times, more learning comes from pain.

Then it was time for dancing... to Israeli music. So fun.

We dock on the northern shore and see what was uncovered in 1986: a 2,000 year old boat. That's right. This beauty was sailing on the sea when Jesus was alive. Unbelievable. There are 12 types of wood used in this boat (12 disciples??) and nails and pottery were also found with it. It was buried in the sand all these years.

We head up the hill to the Mt. of Beatitudes. Starting at the top and walking our way down the hill, we stop mid-way to read a portion of Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount). Blessed = The Favor of the Lord is on. Try reading the scripture and substituting that. Powerful.

When we get to the bottom, we head to the coast of the sea and talk about Jesus feeding the 5,000 (this is right about where they think it was). We stuck our feet in... which only made me want to go swimming! It's definitely super hot... and I'm wearing black. That doesn't help.

We stop for lunch and have a great meal together. This lunch is provided by the group. I had a whole fish (head and everything was on my plate... no worries, I didn't eat it all). JT and Marcy had pizza and pasta... yes, they're adventurous.

Next stop is Bethsaida, the city where Jesus walked and visit the Fisherman's house: home to Peter, Philip, & Andrew. JT walked where Jesus walked.

We were very surprised to see ruins that were uncovered within the previous 2 weeks before we arrived. It's 2nd century BC (Abraham's time) city gate and a shrine to Baal just outside the gate. We reference 1Kings 23:8 while we look at it.

Capernaum, which means "House of Comfort (Grace/Peace)". This was the central city for Jesus' ministry. 5-6 recorded healings in the scriptures took place here.

This is a millstone. This is what they used to grind wheat and various other foods (think of a giant pepper mill). Bread only lasted 1 day, which means every day they had to trust the Lord for food to be provided. Puts a whole new meaning on "Gives us the day our daily bread".

The synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum. The foundation is from Jesus' time, but the top portion is 4th-5th Century AD.

We end our day at the very southern part of the Sea of Galilee. This is where the Jordan river flows out from the sea. There spot where groups can come and get baptized or rededicated. We had a few in our group dedicate their lives to following Christ.

It's been a hot day.

Clearly we're tired and ready to go home, get some food, and go to bed. More tomorrow...