Israel's Past, Present, and Future
Waking up at the Sea of Galilee this morning was hazy and breezy. Unfortunately, we did not have a very clear view across the eight miles of water. In fact, we experienced limited visibility most of the day.
Our first stop, quite literally, was at kibbutz Misgav Am on the Israeli border with Lebanon. We marveled at the panoramic view of Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and if the day was clear, we could have seen the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon was significantly less green than Israel. The Lebanese mountain sides here were littered with houses without window panes. One can only assume they have a malevolent purpose aimed at Israel. A wire fence and steep mountainside is all that separated us from Lebanon and the Hezbollah terrorist organization hunkered down along the border.
Our speaker was Arieh Ben Yaakov, a member of Misgav Am since the 1960's. Arieh could best be described as bold, outspoken, passionate and "non-politically correct". Originally from Cleveland, Arieh made aliyah to Israel in time to liberate Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967. An accomplished elite paratrooper, he has fought in every modern Israeli war. Arieh described life on the kibbutz, the current climate with Lebanon, and explained his desire to protect his home, family and country.
Three main points that I'm sure our group will take away from his talk are:
1. Socialism doesn't work unless two conditions are met- it has to be voluntary participation and it must be on a small-scale, local level.
2. Hate is counterproductive and prayer is more important than a rifle.
3. If you let chickens roam free and they cross into Lebanon, you won't get them back.
Next stop: Caesarea Philippi https://www.bibleplaces.com/banias/ and a moving message from Dan Dark. A son of missionaries, Dan shared parts of his personal and moving story of growing up in Africa at a time when Christians were experiencing incredible persecution in neighboring Chad. Despite persecution and death, the violence didn't kill the church, but the blood of their martyrs made the church continue to grow. He reminded us of Jesus' words to Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:18): "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." With more Christians being martyred now than any other time in history, Dan reminded us that in the end, the Church will be strong. We are Jesus’ bride and will be with him for eternity. The glorious truth is that as Satan tries to destroy the Church, that God prevails, and it will stand forever.
We visited the Golan Heights, which was quiet today. We stood at an overlook where we could view the UN peacekeeping base and neighboring Syria. For now, Russia has agreed to keep Iranian forces from the border.
Our tour guide Miriam educated us on the Yom Kippur War as we made our way to Gamla, the site of a key battle in about 68 AD during the Jewish revolt against the Romans. It is said that because Gamla fell, the Temple was subsequently destroyed in Jerusalem. Gamla means "camel", which the mountain certainly resembles. The group spotted an endangered vulture flying over the valley.
Our last tour spot of the day was the Mount of Beatitudes https://www.bibleplaces.com/mtbeatitudes/, where we heard a reading of the Beatitudes on the porch of the church on the property, and were given time to explore.
Before we headed to an incredible dinner at the Decks restaurant, complete with fireworks, we enjoyed some shopping time and seeing the Jesus boat at the Yigal Allon Museum at Ginosar.
More falafel and schnitzel for lunch today, but tomorrow we have a special treat! (I'll give you a hint: it's not falafel!)
Today, pray for the strength of the persecuted Church and Christians who face uncertainty, prison, and death.
We arrived back at our Sea of Galilee hotel tired but happy.
Blog author: Amy Westphal
Ministry Initiative Specialist
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Melissa DiLiberto
Ministry Services Supervisor
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry