To the North!

We returned to the Mount of Beatitudes today, to look around the chapel that is there.  It’s a magnificent spot so I didn’t mind returning there.  The chapel itself, was designed by Antonio Barluzzi who was very intention with his design.  It’s octagonal to represent the 8 beatitudes and the chapel is tiny, with a wide deck all the way around on the outside, to encourage pilgrims to spend their time outside of the chapel, taking in the spectacular view.  After all, this is where Jesus spent his time, meeting people.

After this brief stop, we headed up north to the ancient city of Dan.  This was especially exciting for Jeff and me as it was our first time there.  We took a short hike in, to see the ruins of Jereboam’s temple, where he set up a high place of worship to a golden calf instead of God.  It’s unusual to find a high place in Israel, because if you’ve read through the Old Testament, the Israelites were told many times to destroy those high places!  We walked a little ways to what I had been most looking forward to on this day – what is known as “Abraham’s Gate”.  Some of the students described the site, as something out of a movie set.  And it’s true – we’re so conditioned by what we see in movies and on TV – this whole trip ends up sometimes being an exercise of suspending disbelief.  Anyway, this gate is nearly 4000 years old and is the oldest thing manmade thing we’ve seen so far.  It’s also called the Abraham Gate because Dan is mentioned in Genesis and we know that Abraham had to enter Dan to rescue his nephew, Lot…so it’s entirely possible that this could be the very gate Abraham entered!  This is a really remarkable place to visit and I’m unsure as to why it took us 3 years to get here!

I’ve mentioned how lush and green the land is in this area, so we have to take advantage of being able to walk out and about the land.  That is why we followed our little hike with a longer hike to Banias Falls right after hearing a Gospel reading at Caesarea Philippi.  This is probably one of my favourite stories.  Caesarea Philippi is like a buffet of gods.  It’s this giant flat rock face carved shrines dotting the rock.  There was a large temple to the goat-man god Pan.  This temple sat by a large cave where worshippers of Pan made human sacrifices.  It was literally dubbed the Hell Mouth.  Another temple to goddess Diana is a few steps away, as is a small one to the goddess Nemesis, as well as a stage for dancing goats.  It’s strange to imagine the worship activities that went on there.  Now that I’ve set the stage, imagine Jesus standing in front of all these shrines and temples, sweeping his hand out and asking his disciples, “Who do you say I am?”  And when Peter answers with, “You are the Messiah,” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17-19).  Hear Cameron’s message to us by clicking on this link:  Cameron.Banias

After lunch in a Druze village (Druze are a secret Muslim sect – very fascinating) we drove through the Golan Heights, to a spot with the snowcapped Mount Hebron in the distance, and overlooking Syria.  From our vantage point, we could see a UN base almost directly below us and a Syrian village in the distance.  We were close enough that we could faintly hear the Muslim call to prayer floating along from the village.  This site lay heavy on the hearts of some of our group, pondering the turmoil that is in that country and it prompted many prayers for Syria in that moment and then later this evening during our debrief.

Tonight is our last night in this peaceful place on the shores of Lake Gennesaret.  Tomorrow is the halfway day of our trip and we head to Jerusalem for the next 5 nights.  

Newsletter Signup

All the latest Mile Two News