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See of Galilee (lots to see!)

Boat Ride, The Restoration of Peter, Capernaum, Magdala, the 1st century boat, baptisms in the Jordan...

105 °F
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Today was so full! And it was so HOT!! They said the temperature only got up to 105F in the shade. And the Sea of Galilee makes sure there’s always some humidity in the air so it’s not a dry heat! We feel very special since the average temperature for this time of year is in the mid 80’s. (Dan wrote most of this day’s blog while I was packing. Maybe I can catch up!)

We started the day with a ride on the Sea of Galilee. We have 5 tour buses for our group (about 215 people, all from the US), so we needed 3 boats to hold us all. Our tour guide told us that actual storms on the Sea of Galilee are unusual but strong winds that raise substantial swells are common. Today the surface of the sea was like glass. We also got a lesson on the storms of life from one of the Moody profs, and then, after cruising around for another 20 minutes or so, we disembarked at a dock at a kibbutz on the northern end of the lake. We were at the kibbutz that discovered the 1st century fishing boat that had been buried in the mud of the Sea of Galilee for about 1900 years. We saw a film on the finding, the raising, and the preservation of the boat and then the boat itself (or what's left of it) .

Our tour guide said the water level in the Sea of Galilee is an indicator of the emotional state of the Israeli people. When the lake is full, the people are optimistic; when it is low, the people are low. Israel has had a drought for the past 7 years and the lake level was so low, there were very long mudflats before you could get to the water. Many docks were useless because there was no water beneath them. (We've seen that with the Atlanta area lakes in droughts.) Last winter they had a lot of rain, and the Sea of Galilee is full. The mud flats have turned into beds of reeds, which are acting as nurseries and nutrient sources for the lake's fingerlings. They expect the fishing this summer to be the best in a long while.

We made a brief stop at the ruins of Capernaum. Only the foundations of a few buildings have been excavated but these include portions of a 500 AD synagogue built directly over the one that Jesus would have taught in, a large home that belonged to a wealthy family next to the synagogue and a house that is believed by some to have been Peter’s. The Catholics have built a church over the top of what they believe to be Peter’s house and it looks like some sort of flying saucer.

After this, we went to a church on the edge of the Sea of Galilee that commemorates Peter’s restoration to the ministry after he denied Christ (x3) and then went back to fishing. The actual location is not known, but it was somewhere on the coast and this site is at least representative. At this site, one of the professors gave a talk about Peter’s redemption and how it can relate to our overcoming our failures.

After lunch, we went to the ruins of Magdala, the home of Mary of Magdala. The city was completely destroyed by the Romans in retribution for the rebellion of 67 AD and was never rebuilt. It was discovered by accident when they were digging a foundation for a new hotel. Magdala was once a very prosperous city that had a continuous source of water flowing down from the mountains and had large pens in which they kept live fish caught in the Sea of Galilee so you could buy fresh fish at any time. They also had a business drying and salting fish to sell to the travelers of the region. In addition, there were the foundations of a synagogue Jesus taught in. They said this is the only 1st century synagogue in a city that Jesus was known to have preached in. It was a beautifully decorated synagogue in its day, with expensive colored mosaic pavement on the floor and richly colored frescoes on the walls inside. It was made of basalt, a common building material in this part of Israel.

Our final stop of the day was at the Jordan river at a kibbutz that ran a site specifically for baptisms. Our tour guide, an Israeli, commented that Israel today is the “land of milk and money” - salvation is free to anyone who believes, but baptism in the Jordan will cost you $10. About 45 of our group chose to be baptized or rededicated. He also explained that what gentiles call “baptism” is called a “ritual cleansing” in Judaism and is performed many times, including before a wedding ceremony.

After a fine dinner we had an evening session with one of the professors who is an American Messianic Jew and 3 members of his family who are Israelis and are not believers in Christ as Messiah. They talked about life in Israel, differences between Jewish and Gentile culture and between the cultures of Sphardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. They also touched on their families experiences with the holocaust and the ongoing efforts of the Arab world to “remove Israel from the face of the earth.” It was very interesting and often very funny.

Posted by dasafish 12:58 Archived in Israel

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