There is one more location we saw on Saturday that I loved! It is called Beth Shan.
This is an amazing site to visit as you can learn much about life during Jesus' day on the lower level, and archaeologists made a great find at the top of the hill.
It would be worth reading 1 Samuel 31 to get the story (it is only 13 verses). Nearby this city on the Mount Bilboa, the Philistines wounded Saul, but rather than be killed by them, he committed suicide. The Israelites lost the battle and fled from their towns. And the Philistines found the body of Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan (David's best friend).
The Philistines then cut off Saul's head and fastened the bodies of Saul and his sons onto the city wall of Beth Shan.
I left my tour group and climbed to the top of the hill (this is an important story to me). The gate from Solomon's day is still there, but they don't have the gate from Saul's day. Perhaps these pillars are from the town gate that Saul's and Jonathan's bodies were hung on.
What I love about the story is that some warriors from Israel heard that their bodies were hung on the city walls and they travelled through the night, carefully approached the wall, took the bodies down from the wall and carried them away from the Philistines.
After Beth Shan, we drove down to the Dead Sea. Here is a view from one of the rooms to the Dead Sea.
The first visit Sunday was to Masada. I have one regret from my trip four and half years ago… that I wasn't able to climb Masada. That is the mountain you see in the photo above. If you remember, David hid at Masada and Herod made a palace there – almost as if to say, "Your greatest king hid on the mountain of Masada – I will live in luxury here."
When my family came, it was too hot and they weren't allowing people to make the climb. Being here in January has advantages and three of us decided to hike up as the rest of the group took the tram car. Several took photos of us as they passed us on the tram. That is the three of us in this photo.
This is another great picture. They are in one tram going up and another tram is headed down and if you look closely, you can see three "dots" on the trail just to the right of the tram car. That is us. It is surprising how warm Masada is even in January! 🙂
Taking a break for the view.
These are my two hiking friends and the three of us have spent a lot of time together. We've become fast friends. Tim and Andrew are great ministry brothers!
We ended Sunday in Jerusalem and some old friends were staying in the hotel next to me. So after dinner we spent a few hours visiting and catching up. Those of you who have been at Northridge for a while will recognize them. This is Gene & Jan Armour's son, Aaron and his wife, Salli. I can't describe how crucial they were in the early years of my time at Northridge. As friends and ministry partners, I couldn't have asked for more. This was a great blessing to be able to hang out with them for a few hours!
I had heard they were going to be in Israel at the same time, but we had no idea if we could meet up, and we found out a few days ago that our hotels were right next to each other. I truly view it as a blessing from God!