Christ Centered Tour
10 Days/ 9 Nights pilgrimage in Israel
Day 1 – Arrival to Israel, The Gentile Pentecost:
Drive north to Tiberius area & Check in depending on flight time arrival if we can do any touring that day or not for our first overnight in galilee.
Travel along Via Maris, ancient international coastal highway. Theme: Pagan nations encounter the God of Israel – Romans, Phoenecians, Canaanites and Egyptians.
Caesarea Maritima – Gateway of Rome to the east – Springboard of Christianity to the west.
Explore the magnificent port city & man-made harbor, built by King Herod to honor Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar, and later became the seat of Roman governors in 1st c AD. Here the apostle Peter proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a god-fearing Roman centurion named Cornelius, and the whole gentile household was baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). Here a prisoner named Paul shared his conversion testimony before royalty (Acts 26) and the port of Caesarea became the base for mission trips across the Mediterranean Sea.
Overnight in Galilee
Day 2 – The Word Became Flesh and Dwelled Among Us
Mt Arbel overlook of Sea of Galilee region. where Jesus spent most of this 3-year public ministry, as recorded in the Gospels. Mt Arbel is first mentioned in Hosea 10:14
Nazareth is the place of Jesus’s childhood (Luke 1 & 2), and today has the largest concentration of Christians in Israel. Its first importance is for angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will bear God’s son. We will point the Church of the Annunciation, where the Word became Flesh, and appreciate how Mary is revered by cultures all around the world. Underneath the church are ancient dwelling places and nearby is a cemetery with a rolling stone from the 1st century AD.
Nazareth Village – a delightful recreation of a Galilean Jewish village in the time of Jesus, illustrating the context of Jesus’ parables. Our tour includes a threshing floor, olive press, watchtower over fields and vineyards, shepherds, wine press, homes, carpentry, and a life-sized synagogue. Here we will unroll the scrolls and read in memory of Jesus “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of the sight for the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Mt Precipice – rejection of Jesus by his hometown
Megiddo – the Plain of Armegeddon
Continuing along the ancient highway that connected Egypt to Mesopotamia, we drive by the most important gateway city of Canaan – Megiddo. Many pharaohs, kings, and emperors have fought bloody battles in the Jezreel Valley to control this strategic pass by Mt Carmel. No wonder this will be the location of the final battle of Armageddon (Revelation). If time permits, we will explore the layers of civilization on this historic tel – including Solomon’s city gates, a Canaanite altar, and a hidden water tunnel.
Drive east through the Lower Galilee. This is the same route that Jesus traveled on.
Overnight in Tiberias hotel or a kibbutz guesthouse along the lakeshore.
Day 3 – Becoming a Disciple of Jesus
Capernaum – Gospels name this fishing town as the headquarters of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee (Mark 1:31-38, Matt 4:13). Caperaum was the home of Peter, location of many miraculous healings, powerful teachings, and yet a town that Jesus eventually cursed for their unbelief (Matt 11:23). The centurion’s faith in Jesus to heal his servant, prompted Jesus to … Luke 7:1-10
Tax station along Via Maris – border of political territory Herod Antipas/ Herod Philip. Jesus calls a tax collector to be disciple – Matthew. Mark 2:14
Communion at seashore of lake – Primacy of St Peter, Tabgha. Region of the multiplication of loaves & fishes. Jesus feeds his disciples before sending them out.
Boat Ride – enjoy the last moments of Jesus’ beloved landscape as we sail around the Sea of Galilee on the “Jesus Boat” – replica of a wooden fishing boat used by fishermen in the time of Jesus. Then see a real one from 1st century recently discovered on lakeshore.
Lunch – St Peters Fish
Mt Beatitudes – Kingdom of Heaven teaching. Ascend the Mt of Beatitudes where we enjoy time for spiritual reflection and meditation on Jesus’ teachings from the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5-7)
Migdal – visit the recently discovered 1st century AD synagogue in the hometown of Mary Magdelene. Discuss the role of female disciples in Jesus’ ministry and the early church.
Valley of the Doves – short walk along the Jesus trail, above is Mt Arbel – a zealot stronghold during the Jewish uprising against the Romans and King Herod. What did Jesus teach about this?
Baptisms at Yardenit – a spiritual highlight for every Christian group, we will celebrate our baptism with a full water immersion. This facility is located where the lake feeds into the Jordan River, just before it meanders south through the Jordan Valley.
Last Overnight in Tiberias / kibbutz along lakeshore total 3 nights in Galilee.
Day 4 – Jordan River – Baptisms & Dead Sea
Depart the Galilee via the Jordan Valley – we descend through Syrian-African Great Rift Valley to the lowest point on earth.
Somewhere nearby Jericho, Joshua led the Israelite tribes into the Promised Land. God stopped the Jordan River for the priests to safely carry the Ark of the Covenant across to the other side.
Region of John the Baptizer – in the spirit of prophet Elijah, John boldly declared a message of Repentance in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord. In this spirit he baptized Jewish pilgrims before they ascended to Jerusalem for Temple worship & sacrifice.
Qasr el Yahud – traditional site where John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, (Mark 1:9). Nearby monastery on Mt Qarantal (Mount of Temptation) commemorates how the Holy Spirit immediately led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting in the face of temptation of Satan.
Jericho – the most ancient city in the world, this oasis of natural springs and palm trees was first inhabited 9000 years ago. Conquered by resounding trumpets as Joshua led the Israelites around the heavily fortified walls of Jericho. At an ancient Sycamore Tree we remember the story of Zacchaeus climbing up to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Here Jesus healed a blind man before ascending to Jerusalem.
Overnight in the Dead Sea- Jericho area Resort hotel.
Day 5 – Judean Wilderness – The Desert as a refuge
We begin the day at Masada, one of Herod the Great’s magnificent fortresses and the last
Jewish stronghold to fall captive to the Romans. Here we will discuss the nature of the
Herodian dynasty and Zealot ideology. On our way back north we will pass by the beautiful
subtropical oasis of En Gedi before making our way to the site of Qumran.
Qumran – Explore the archeology of the Jewish “Essene” sect, which turned away from the Temple worship & sacrifice during the corrupt Hasmonean period. Unique findings are multiple mikveh (ritual purity baths), a scriptorium, and community dining hall, but no individual homes. In the nearby caves, the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. They prove the Hebrew Bible has not been altered in 2200 years. Discuss the possible relationship of the Essenes / Dead Sea Sect to the ministry and preaching of John the Baptist in the same wilderness region.
Dead Sea – Enjoy a swim (or rather a float!) in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea, renowned for its minerals and healing properties.
If time permits we will view Byzantine Monasteries in this wilderness route, that once provided accommodation to pilgrim travelers.
Overnight in the Dead Sea- Jericho area total 2 overnights
Day 6 – Bethlehem & Ein-Karem
Mt Scopus – Ascend the barren eastern side of Mt Olives ridge, with a stop at “Mt Scopus” to enjoy a panoramic welcome view of Jerusalem.
Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan, traveling between Jericho and Jerusalem.
Bethlehem – Birthplace of King David, and later the birthplace of his descendent Jesus – Emmanuel
Shepherds Fields, where the angels announced the birth of Jesus. We will see actual shepherds grazing their sheep on the hillsides of this modern town.
Church of Nativity. Oldest church in the world, built by Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother Queen Helena in 4th c AD. Witness how Middle Eastern Christians preserve the holy site where Christ was born.
Point out the Bethlehem Bible College; discuss the role of Palestinian Christians today.
Proceed to Ein Karem.: This picturesque village is full of winding lanes, enchanting architectural features and lush green gardens. There are seven monasteries and convents inspired by various traditions at Ein Karem. It is said that John the Baptist was born here and that Mary drank from the Spring of the Virgin, still bubbling from a cave at an abandoned mosque near the center of the village.
Check into hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 7- God establishes his Temple in Jerusalem
Origin of holy site. Begins with Mt Moriah, where Abraham almost sacrifices his son Isaac. Believed to be the same rocky hilltop where King David purchased the threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:18-25), intended to house the Ark of the Covenant. His son King Solomon constructed the First Temple and royal palaces on this hilltop overlooking the newly established City of David.
City of David – Hezekiah’s Tunnel (optional) – Pool of Siloam – Walk up Herodian steps
Explore the original City of David, a small Jebusite fortified hilltop conquered by King David’s men through an underground shaft. We will see evidence of royal occupation here throughout the Biblical periods. Discover the 1st Temple period, building of Jerusalem as political & religious center, and King Hezekiah’s projects to protect the Holy City from Assyrian invasion. Option to walk through Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel. Our journey ends at the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man. Its possible to ascend on the original Herodian steps to the market street of the Temple Complex.
Davidson Center – Jesus and all other pilgrims ascend to the Temple in the same manner. We will stand on the actual Southern Steps to the Temple Mount, and learn about requirements of ritual purity, temple tax, and sacrifice. Importance of Herod’s Temple to Christians – Definitely Jesus would have walked on these steps. He was brought to the Temple several times in childhood – after birth – as a young boy, teaching with authority in his father’s house. Jesus and his disciples visited the Temple continuously during his last week in Jerusalem before arrest. Overturned the moneychanger tables, in attempt to purify his father’s house. Jesus finally prophesied its destruction (Mark 13:1-2). The Southern Steps are also a possible site of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost and baptism of 3000 on festival of Shavuot. See evidence of the magnificent Temple built by King Herod that was destroyed by the Romans 100 years later. Internal struggles and factions within Judaism led to the Great Revolt and final destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Western Wall – Holiest site in the world for Jewish faithful, closest they can reach to where the Holy of Holies once stood. This wall is actually just a portion of retaining wall of Herod’s Temple mount platform, the only remains of Temple after destructions by Romans in 70 AD.
Temple Institute – illustrates the evolution of Jewish worship from the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Solomon’s Temple, Nehemiah & Ezra’s Temple, Herod’s Temple from the time of Jesus. Then the plans for building of 3rd Temple in future.
Biblical Archeology in Jewish Quarter – see the “Broad Wall” built by King Hezekiah to protect Israelite refugees from Assyrian attack, warnings of Prophet Isaiah. Destruction of city 120 years later by Babylonians, then exiled Jews return to Zion with Nehemiah & Ezra. Rebuild walls & temple and reestablish worship & reading Torah.
Rooftop view to Temple Mount today – 35-acre platform featuring golden Dome of Rock & Al Aqsa Mosque. 3rd most holy site in Islam. Discuss how each religious group through history has revered the Temple Mount area.
Overnight in Jerusalem
Day 8 – Mt Olives to Calvary – the Last Week of Jesus in Jerusalem
Mt Olives is the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven after his resurrection, (Acts 1: 9-11) and here Jesus will return in glory at the end of days.
First stop – Pater Noster Church – it was on the Mt Olives that Jesus taught his disciples to pray “The Lord’s Prayer.” Morning prayer and reflection on the role of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb provided by God during the Jewish feast of Passover.
Mount of Olives observation deck to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Recount the biblical events that took place on Mt Olives and Kidron Valley below. Celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entrance to Jerusalem as we walk together down the Palm Sunday Route. Stop at Dominus Flevit church, commemorating where Jesus wept over the future destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Continue to the Garden of Gethsemane, with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony (modern Church of All Nations). This is where Jesus prayed on the night of his betrayal by Judas, and was arrested by Roman soldiers (Matt. 26:36, John 18:1).
Walk across the Kidron Valley, also called Valley of Jehosephat – prophesied site for Final Judgment. See all the tombs here, each religious group poised for Resurrection Day.
Enter the walled Old City of Jerusalem through Lions Gate. This area north of Temple Mount was used for pools to bathe sacrificial animals. In 2nd temple pd, this was known as the colonnaded “Pools of Bethesda” where Jesus healed a paralytic (John 5:1-15). The Crusaders built here a magnificent church honoring St Anne, the mother of Mary. The excellent acoustics provide the best place to sing in Jerusalem.
Proceed to the area of Antonia Fortress (Praetorian) where Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate and was condemned to death by crucifixion (Mark 15:1).
Walk along portion of Via Dolorosa, remembering Jesus suffering as he carried the cross to Golgotha / the place of the skull. At the Garden Tomb, we will have a special time of prayer, worship and communion.
Last overnight in Jerusalem total 3 overnights
Day 9 – From Jerusalem to the Ends of the Earth
Road to Emmaus. Within the lovely gardens of a Benedictine monastery, enjoy the final time for reflection & prayer together as a group leaving with cheerful memories from the land.
Tour Jaffa old city explore Simon the Tanner Home a light to the gentiles learn about the history of jaffa visit Tel aviv and study about the modern state of Israel.
Tel aviv- Back home depends of flights departure time.
Itinerary – subject to change according to flight arrival & departure times, inclement weather, security concerns, and the wishes of the group.