This morning I woke up at 5:30 am and realized I was waking up in Israel. As the sun rose around 6:30, over the Golan Heights, I walked outside and took this picture from just across the road from the house where we are staying. (The house is pictured below.) Gary and Cindy Bayer are renovating their home and it will be extremely practical and beautiful for hospitality in the future.
As we left today we came across an orchard of almond trees just starting to bloom (see Jeremiah 1) on seemingly dead branches. New life is all around us up here in the Galilee where it has been raining (much needed). We drove past Mt. Tabor (think Barak in Judges), and on to Hill of Moreh (think Saul at En-dor, Gideon against the Midianites, Elisha and Shunum, and Jesus at Nain). On our drive today we stopped in at the village of Nain where Christ raised the widow's son. We visited a closed, old, somewhat rundown church that celebrates this miracle (see picture of church).
We drove on to Nazareth where we visited the Church of the Annunciation [Catholic](see the picture below which shows the traditional grotto where Mary received the message from the angel), St. Joseph's Church, Mary's Well. Then we had a great time walking around Nazareth Village which is an area built up like part of the first century Nazareth. It really gives one an idea of what first century life might have been like. Then on to Beit Shearim, a necropolis city in which 135 sarcophagi (large stone "coffins" for bones) were found in an 80 yard-long system of tunnels and rooms (see the picture below where I am lying in a sarcophigus!).
Well I could go on and on but it is late and a bed is calling. Let me just say we also visited the archeological discoveries at Tzipori (Gk Sepphoris), drove past Cana of Galilee, stopped at MacDonalds for lunch (at 2:45 pm) and then did some shopping! Then we drove back home to relax and to take our wives out for a dinner and a short drive (well — an 35 mile drive all the way around the Sea of Galilee!). All this and I had time to get a parking ticket in Nazareth and get stopped by Israeli Police near Capernaum but these are stories and sermon illustrations for another time!
Tomorrow I think we will take a drive up to Mt. Hermon to see if Lebanon and Syria are behaving themselves!