Tour Journal For Israel Study Tour with Joshua Wilderness April 2-15, 2013

Day 5 – Personal Space

Day 5 – Personal Space

It has been another beautiful day in the beautiful, historical land of Israel. Today we ventured north, towards the borders of Syria and Lebanon. Our first stop of the day was at the ruins of Quatzrin. Some of the walls had been rebuilt in order to give visitors a glimpse into what they once may have looked like when they were inhabited. The ruins we have seen up to this point have had a lack roofs and upper parts of walls. Our entire group, 76 of us, managed to squeeze into a small house that a Jewish family once lived in.  We barely fit. Ronnen, one of our tour guides, talked to our group about how closely knit Jewish communities were. There was no room for “personal space”, and everyone knew everyone’s business. Everyone was there to come alongside and help each other with their problems as well. People spent time with their families, and kids played for hours with their friends. Their society stands at a stark contrast with our own individualized society, where we spend hours watching television or on Facebook, and often don’t really know our neighbors.

After visiting Quatzrin, we toured a bunker in the Golan heights. When the Golan heights were part of Syria, Syria had bunkers and intelligence collecting stations on top of the heights. When the Golan heights were added to Israel in 1967, the Syrian bunkers were converted to Israeli bunkers. The particular one we visited was left unoccupied for tourists to visit. We got to go down into the bunker which was really cool. It’s crazy to think of living in a country with so much political tension both inside and outside of the country. Yet the people of Israel live in just that situation every day. During our tour, a siren went off announcing a national moment of silence in remembrance of the Holocaust victims. It is sad thinking that so many people died because of unwarranted prejudices, and how we can never let such a terrible event to occur again. It was a reminder of the need for the Jewish people to have a country, a safe place to go without persecution. Israel, essentially, formed again because of the Holocaust, declared a nation in 1948, shortly after World War II had ended.

Our next stop was at Caesarea Philippi, where we walked a scenic path along a water source of the Jordan River before stopping for a lunch of hotdogs and chips. Afterwards, we visited the ruins of temples to Pan and Zeus. The architecture was beautiful, but it was frustrating to think that gods other than the one true God were worshiped there. The temples, though, are now ruins, and we as Christians can walk through knowing who the one true God is.

Next we journeyed to the ruins of the city of Dan. We hiked through the city and saw the remains of a temple that was built there when Israel was split into the northern and southern kingdoms. The southern king did not want his people to journey into the northern kingdom to visit the temple in Jerusalem, so he built two temples. One was in the far south, and the other was built in the far north, the city of Dan, where we visited.  We also saw two sets of city gates which were three thousand and four thousand years old. It is crazy seeing architecture that is so old when we come from a country that is little more than two centuries old.

This afternoon we got to see sixteen of our Joshua brothers and sisters be baptized in the Jordan river; Stephen, Taylor, Brandon, Daniel, Brad, Julian, Eric, Lauren, Mallory, Lindsey, Alex, Antonio, Sharon, Heidi, Ryan, and Micaella. It was really, really cool seeing them publically declare their faith in Jesus and the new life they have in Him. In ancient Rome, baptism into the Christian faith equated to opening yourself up to persecution and possibly even death by the hands of Roman officials. Our Joshua brothers and sisters today are publically saying by their baptism that their lives are dedicated to Christ, and they are forever changed. After the baptism we hugged and we prayed over them. It was really beautiful. And what a cool place it is to get baptized; the very river John the Baptist baptized Jesus! Afterwards, the rest of us got the opportunity to swim in the river as well.

And that is about it for today. Please continue to pray for us as we continue our journey through Israel. Also, please pray for the people who were newly baptized today, that they would have the courage to live out their faith. And please pray for the people of Israel as they live in a country full of political tension. Thank you!


Today's Photos

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