Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday April 19th The Golan Heights

Today we drove around the Sea of Galilee up to the Golan Heights near Mt. Hermon. We learned that 60% of the drinkable water comes from the Sea of Galilee. It was the man who designed the Tennessee Valley Authority who came and designed the system here.

Doran, our tour guide described the development of the kibbutz in 1930. They were started by Jews coming from England and the U.S. and the main focus was on cooperative living where they shared the work and the profits of their work and held all their possessions in common. Today there are 380 kibbutzes that make 31/2 % of the population. Because of all the wars, to protect the land of the kibbutz they planted eucalyptus trees around them to hide them from the soldiers.

When the wheat in, which supplied most of the area and countries around the world, almost died off, it was a Jew named Aaron Arronson who developed durham wheat - wheat with 2 rows of kernals on each head, that literally saved the world.

We found out that the blackberry is considered holy because its leaves are in the shape of a cross with three leaves - the trinity.

Doran told us that a Pharoh was worshiped as a "god to be" and a king was just a ruler of the area. Then he told the story of Jeraboam who was sent to be the king over the Northern kingdoms. The made a temple there - one of the only two outside of Jerusalem - but he allowed a place to put idols to appease the Egyptians who had to worship God through the golden calf. Because he stretched the boundaries of the Jewish religion and then allowed Sennacherib and the Assyrians to come into Dan, God destroyed all the 10 northern kingdoms. We got to see the remains of that temple and the altar and the clay gate where Abram actually used when he came from Ur into Israel. Being there really makes it all come alive.

While we were at Dan which is on the border of Lebanon, we were abruptly brought back to modern day Israel when we heard gunfire. Our guide told us that as long as we could hear the shots we were fine. When we didn't hear them anymore - we would probably be injured or dead.

Our next stop was Caesarea Philippi where we saw the Roman influence in the ruins. Dan and Caesarea were the two main sources or headwaters of the Jordan River. We took a long walk over rocks and water to get to Dan, but we saw the ruins of a whole city in Caesarea. It included a temple, altar and even market place area. It was there we sat and heard again of the story of Jesus' trip to Caesarea where he asked the disciples "who do you say that I am" asking them to declare their faith in an area that was really hostile to Jesus. If they could do that there, they would be more prepared to handle the time that was coming when Jesus would no longer be with them.

Our guide then asked us to declare our faith and tell him who we said that Jesus is. We said it loudly - Jesus Christ the son of the living God. Then we sang "Father I Adore You" and the "Doxology" is 3 part harmony. It was thrilling to hear in that beautiful but formerly hostile setting to Christianity.

We finally went "on the road to Damascus" the way Paul went to where he was struck blind. Doran told us that only when we can't see could we focus on what God really has to say to us and turn our hearts to God as Paul did. He thought it was amazing that Paul's traveling companions took him on to Damascus where he was going to hunt believers instead of back to where he would be surrounded by Jewish friends. But after Paul had been with Ananius and the new believers there, they were more confident in their faith and less worried about their future.

The last part of our trip to the Golan Heights was mostly about the politics of the recent past from the 1967 war and the 1973 Yom Kippur war between Lebanon, Syria and Israel and other interesting information about the natural vegetation, flowers and crops of the area. We even got to see an olive oil plant and bring back soaps and creams created by the leftovers of the olive pits and skins after the pressing was done.

Another amazing day of learning and experiencing the stories that make up the history of our Christian faith!

We got back for dinner tonight and Niel had an e-mail from Pastor Rist with the sad news about the passing of Rich Drexler. Our condolences to Cherie and Christina and our thoughts and prayers are with them and our Hosanna family.

Gods blessings to all of you. We'll be on the Sea of Galilee tomorrow. More later. ~Barb & Niel and Pastor Bill

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