Opendoor Outreach

Connecting the Church to it's Jewish roots

Israel Tour 2010

After a brief stop overnight in Netanya, the Tour proper started in the Roman city of Caesarea Maritima. Here we learned a Roman city should have a Temple, Theatre, Baths, Forum and a Hippodrome. The stand-outs seemed the Theatre, where Paul defended himself before Agrippa I (Acts 25) and the Hippodrome where horse racing & gladiator fights took place and early christians were fed to the lions.

Next to Mount Carmel where Elijah brought fire down from heaven (1 Kings 18:20-40). The view from the top of the Carmelite monastery was breathtaking, with bible history all around. Nazareth on the mountain tops to the left. Indeed many of the stories from the bible took place in this area. At Mount Tabor where the Judge Deborah (Judges 4 & 5) told Barak to gather 10,000 men for battle with Sisera the commander of Jabin’s army (Canaanites). Gideon (Judges 6-8) was at Ophrah when the Angel of the Lord approached him, Gideon saw His face and yet survived and so he built an altar called Yahweh Shalom (The Lord-Is-Peace). Mount Gilboa can be seen where Saul fell on his sword and most dramatically the Jezreel Valley stretches out as far as the eye can see and with Megiddo is thought to be the place referred to as Armageddon in the Sixth Bowl in Rev 16:16. After reading scripture in the gardens of the monastery, a real highlight was seeing two birds that looked very much like eagles gliding.

The tour then moved up to Galilee and five nights in Tiberius. From this base we saw Capernaum (Capher Nahum) where it is believed Jesus moved to after being thrown out of Nazareth. The Mount of Beautitudes, where the mountainside offers a natural amphitheatre and the acoustics offered from that may explain why Jesus “went up” the mountain alot. Further highlights included a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee; a trip to Caesarea Phiippi where Peter declared “You are the Christ” (Mk 8:29) and a visit to the Golan Heights.

From Galillee we headed south, following the Jordan and stopped at Yardenit a baptismal site. This has to be one of my personal highlights, as after feeling indifferent to full-immersion baptism, having been baptised as a child, I decided I didn’t want to miss the chance of putting myself fully under the water! Then after driving through the West Bank, and stopping for an almost obligatory falafel or schnitzel, we arrived in Jerusalem from the east in the same way a Galilean would have taken 2,000 years earlier.

We spent the next five nights in Jerusalem. You do feel the sense of history falling upon you. The first full day was Sunday and a good number of us took the opportunity to worship twice. In the morning at Christchurch, Jerusalem (www.cmj-israel.org) beside Jaffa Gate and in the evening at King of Kings, Messianic congregation (www.kkcj.org) . Both services proved moving to different groups of our party. The evening service happened to include the personal testimony of Geoffery Cohen, the visiting pastor of Jewish Ministry from Gateway Church, Dallas (www.gatewaypeople.com) who had a personal encounter with our Lord Jesus (Yeshua) at Jaffa Gate.

Further Jerusalem stand-out moments included a sobering afternoon at Yad Vashem, where amongst the artefacts is a large copy of Mein Kampf and a new tree planted on the path of the Righteous Gentiles for Corrie ten Boom, after the original died with her. In addition a visit to the High Priest’s house (Caiaphas), proved reflective when we were shown a prison holding cell, where the prisoner would be lowered in by chains. We were also fortunate, after a trip to the Western Wall, to visit the tunnel that has been excavated since 1967 running the length of the Western Wall. Towards the end you find some paving stones from the original street at the time of Christ, who would have been taken in that direction en-route to the Praetorium to be brought before Pilate.

Lastly, we visited the Garden Tomb a potential site for the burial place of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). The best news was that it was empty! The tomb does appear to have a Jerusalem Cross inscribed on the wall, with an anchor upon it. This was apparently used in the first century.

Our last day included a stop at the Joseph Storehouse (www.visionforisrael.com) to meet Barry Segal and to see where the donations go. Barry is a regular speaker at Opendoor Outreach. Finally, we had lunch and a tour of the biblical garden at a Messianic Jewish kubbutz Yad Hashmona (www.yad8.com). The food here was fantastic and from the garden you can see bible history, such as Emmaus (apparently pronouced more like “a mouse!”) as well as Ashkelon and Ashdod in the distance.