Today was absolutely incredible! After an early start we departed for the Mount of Beatitudes. This is considered to be the site where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. The first thing we did there was gather in a beautiful garden like setting of the site to talk about the Scripture passage. After talking about the Jewish nature of Jesus’ teaching and His magnificent claim of deity, I turned everyone’s attention over to Terry for a few comments. He added his own enlightening perspective in talking about how Jesus was challenging the status quo and religious emptiness of His day. Terry then asked the group to gather around me to pray for me as I am going through some very personal difficulty. I can’t tell you what a blessing it was to be surrounded by people who absolutely love the Lord like that. They prayed for God to strengthen and bless me to continue to persevere in the face of persecution. They encouraged me to remain unwavering and committed to teaching and relying upon God’s Word. It was a special time for all us. The group then took some time to walk the garden and reflect upon their own lives asking the question, “What does Jesus say to me?” (“But I say to you…).
From there we went up to the Golan Heights. The first stop was the ancient city of Dan. I think everyone was really surprised at how much Biblical context this place had. We saw the altar that Jeroboam built to provide a “substitute” for true worship, the city walls and gate from the time of King Ahab, an actual judgment seat at the city gate from the Northern Kingdom, and a 4000 year old Canaanite gate that Abraham surely walked through. This gate was definitely the highlight for everyone. You could hear the gasping in awe as people pondered this place and what happened here. Scott was absolutely amazed to see the actual size of an exact replica of the altar that Jeroboam built. Ron was able to sit at the city gate where the “elders” would sit and govern. And of course, we got ice cream.
The next site was Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do others say that I am?” We saw how when Jesus said that the “Gates of Hades shall not prevail” against His church, He was talking about an actual place of pagan Pan Worship called the Gates of Hades.
After a nice authentic Middle Eastern lunch, we headed up for a nice view of the Golan Heights and into Syria. Mike was so taken by the view and an Israeli tank that we almost left without him (well, actually we started to leave to freak him out). You should have seen his face. The whole bus was laughing.
The day ended with the Crossover group going down into the Jordan River to get 12 memorial stones. This was an unplanned excursion that really tested the driving skills of Aaron our driver. He got us down close to the river where buses don’t usually go. You will more about those stones when everyone gets back.