Today our full group from Northridge joined us here in Israel. It was great to see so many familiar faces after a few days away.
One of our group members snapped this picture as they were flying over Lake Michigan. Check it out if you've ever wondered what the Great Lakes look like frozen over.
Also, if you are wondering how they passed over Lake Michigan on their way to Israel, it is because their series of flights brought them from Rochester to Chicago, from Chicago to Newark, NJ, and finally here to Israel. The group finally arrived in Israel at 2am on Tuesday (Rochester time). It was 9 am local time in Israel.
Since we had several great locations we wanted to fit into our day we quickly made our way to our first site a 45 minute drive north of the airport in Tel Aviv. This site was Caesaria, an ancient city completely constructed on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea by Herod the Great who, as a Jewish king under Roman rule, dedicated the city to Caesar Augustus as a way to win favor in his eyes.
This is the same Herod who ordered the murder of all male Jewish babies age 2 and under when Christ was born in an attempt to stamp out any possibility of being usurped by another king greater than himself. He was clearly paranoid and self-obsessed, and yet a brilliant strategist.
We stopped at the amphitheater and gave the history of the city.
You can still make out the outline of a fresh-water, indoor pool that Herod somehow had constructed out into the Mediterranean Sea itself! He truly desired to leave his mark on the world.
What we saw today is simply remnants of an ancient king long dead, a king who attempted to squelch the life of another coming King. Yet the King we serve still reigns!
It is also interesting to note that Caesarea is the ancient town in which Peter confessed that the gospel was clearly for ALL people, both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:34-35), as well as the port where Paul launched several of his missionary journeys. Here is the very port that Paul would have pushed off from:
Herod had hoped to bring the influence of Rome to Israel by constructing the port of Caesarea, yet instead God was working behind the scenes enabling the influence of the Gospel to spread far and wide around the world!
Our final stop today was atop Mount Carmel where Elijah battled the false prophets of Baal. You can read about that in 1 Kings 18:16-45. Here is a breathtaking view from on top of Mount Carmel:
Plenty more to see tomorrow!