It was an absolutely beautiful day in the Galilee! After a very full day yesterday, our group awoke well rested and excited for the new day. The day did not disappoint!
Our guide, Aly, shared a bit of Israel’s history with us as we made an hour long drive to an army outpost in the upper Galilee.
Once there, we were met with yet another incredible experience, which became my latest “Wow” encounter! Somewhat disappointed we were denied access to Ramat David (the air force base in the Jezreel Valley) a couple days ago, due to military activity, we were treated to something even more special! An Israeli Merkava tank unit met us near Kibbutz Misgav Am and we interacted with a tank commander and his unit. (Yes, we also got to explore the tank!)
The outpost is situated literally a few yards from the Lebanese border and they had action the night before as Hezbollah launched 4 rockets toward Israel…each destroyed by the Iron Dome. The unit we met today was involved in taking care of business last night! What they couldn’t tell us (for security reasons), we found out later in the day: the rockets were the feeble attempt of Iran/Hezbollah at revenge for the Israeli air strike in Damascus that took out a weapon depot. But, c’est la vie….life goes on in Israel, and their soldiers were chatting with us and enjoying the snacks given to them!
Mizgav Am (guarded by this tank unit) is a kibbutz which “represents the srtong bond between Christians and the people of Israel.” We were hosted by a very funny Jewish man who gave us a briefing about what we were seeing, and the status of things in this corner near Mt Hermon, where Israel, Lebanon and Syria share borders. It was not only highly informational, but inspiring to meet and talk to active duty soldiers, and hear the true status of things on the ground not even 50 yards from the border!
From there, we headed to Caesarea Philippi, also known as Banias. It was here that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” To which Peter proclaimed Him to be the Messiah, and Jesus declared that He would build His church, and the powers of hell will not conquer it. (Matthew 16:13-20) We were blessed as Pastor John taught on location, and we saw parts of Banias I had never seen.
Then, came another very impacting site: Bental, upon the Golan Heights. As we looked out over Syria (from only 20-30 miles from Damascus), it became very surreal. Ezekiel 38-39 tells us exactly what will happen in this very place in the not too distant future. Syria will be utterly destroyed, and a coalition of Russia, Iran, and Turkey (and others) descend upon Israel in an invasion known as the War of Gog and Magog. Just being in that place was sobering, but sensing an indescribable peace is what made it surreal.
Days before traveling to Israel, several well-meaning friends and co-workers were concerned about whether or not it was safe to go to Israel. I said “no” then, and it was only more deeply confirmed as I stood atop the wind-blown hill of Bental, feeling more peaceful than I have ever felt! It is impossible to describe or to make it understandable without actually being here. Israel is safe and secure, regardless of what you hear on the news!
BTW – The unbelievable privilege of sharing current events and teaching from Ezekiel 38 while there on the Golan Heights was mine today! For those who know me well, you know what I mean when I say, “I’m living the life” (if only for a short tour)!
Because events of the day ended earlier than anticipated, we had time for an unscheduled stop at Olea Essence, an Israeli company that makes many products out of olives. We got a glimpse of the factory, learned how the crushed olives for oil, and got to sample many different flavors of olive oil, lotions, and beauty products. It is a blessing to support Israeli businesses, so it was a pleasure to spend a small amount of time shopping there.
Our day ended with a short visit from a representative from One for Israel, sharing details about what is going on in evangelical circles (particularly Messianic) in Israel. The Lord is moving powerfully among Jews, Arabs and Palestinians both in Israel, and in the greater Middle East. There is a bit of a spiritual awakening taking place! Will you pause for a moment to pray for open eyes, ears and hearts as the Lord makes Himself known here in the Middle East?
Tomorrow we travel down the Jordan River valley to Masada, En Gedi, Qumran and the Dead Sea! Follow along and I will do my best to keep you informed! Also, thank you so much for your prayers for our group and our tour. Words cannot describe the sheer awe of seeing and doing the things the Lord has put before us. This is my eighth time to Israel, and this is by far the most impacting and most joyful! Praise God for such a great group!
PS: Now, just for fun, here is a popular T-shirt in Israel: