We look forward to taking all of our friends to the Holy Land one day in the not too distant future. In the meantime, you can see what we experienced in 2014, in anticipation of our next trip.
Stan & Robin Lubeck
Be sure to click the link above that includes pictures of our tour in Israel.
We spent some time in the Golan Heights, where we could hear the shelling of battles taking place across the border from Israel to Syria. We heard deep booming sounds as fighting was actively taking place not five miles away. We could see the UN headquarters for the area between us and the fighting, as well as a big wired fence that runs for hundreds of miles. I always wondered why the Golan Heights were such a hot spot for fighting and now I know as it is a high point for overlooking Israel.
Capharnaum was where Jesus lived and operated most of his life. We saw what we believed was Peter’s home. We enjoyed walking the streets of Jesus’ neighborhood, seeing what had been excavated there on the Sea of Galilee.
Traveling the West Bank to the Dead Sea
Then we headed south through the West Bank area of Israel, where we saw the results of the work of the Israeli farmers. They have a great deal of salt in their soil, so they spend several years preparing the soil and removing the salt before they ever plant a crop. Their fields are very clean and they have to be resourceful with the water because they only get about one inch of rainfall a year, meaning that the majority of their water comes from desalination plants. Everything is so green, and it is all because of the irrigation system.
As we traveled south and down in elevation to the lowest lake in the world, everything turned brown as we came closer to the Dead Sea.
Our first stop was a place called Massada. This place was built by King Herod as an escape location should he be attacked. It was in the dessert, on top of a hill, with everything you might imagine from a shower, to a sauna and an indoor swimming pool. The only thing was that King Herod never showed up to enjoy it.
In 70 AD, the Jews who rebelled against the Romans used this place as a fortress to hold out against the Roman government after Jerusalem was sacked. At the end of the siege, knowing that the Roman’s were about to take this almost impregnable plateau, the Jews committed suicide, rather than be conquered by the Romans. Only a woman and two children were found in hiding, alive. Everyone else was dead when the Roman’s finally scaled the hill.
We were reminded that Israel has enemies, as everywhere we went, there were young soldiers carrying their weapons.
The next stop was the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in Qumran by some shepherd boys looking for their sheep that had wandered off into some caves.
The Dead Sea Area
Our next adventure was to visit the Dead Sea and experience the fun of floating in water where you cannot sink because of all the minerals that have accumulated, since the Jordan River flows in, and the Dead Sea has no outlet. It is a metaphor for our lives, as we take in, we need to give out, or we too will be dead spiritually.
We were warned not to go in if we had any open sores, and certainly not to go underwater as the water, and to spend no more than 15 minutes in the water.
We ended the day driving up the steep grade from Jericho, near the Dead Sea, up to Jerusalem on the Jericho Road.
We read Psalms, and noted how many are titled, “Psalms of Ascent,” as Jerusalem, the City of God is at a higher elevation, with the Temple built by Mount Moriah.
We spent the next four days investigating all the wonders of the city of Jerusalem and the neighboring areas.
The next morning we began our adventure with a tour of the Israeli Museum, where we viewed a scaled model of the Temple and the walls surrounding walls.
This gave us perspective for where we would be walking in the coming days. We saw a Dead Sea Scroll exhibit, then traveled to the Holocaust Museum to gain the social perspective of this part of the world. We saw where Oscar Schindler and his wife planted two trees as a memorial and later drove by where they are buried. The Holocaust Museum graphically portrayed the slippery slope to genoside. Room after room displayed the horrors of the Holocaust, with one of the last rooms displaying a room full of volumes containing the 6 million names of Jews who were exterminated.
Too many people failed to raise a hand against the Nazis and for the Jews when these horrific events were unfolding. Finally we were ushered into a room with six million little squares representing each person and then a room full of prisms reflecting the light of four candles, giving the impression of the power of individual lives to spread the light.
Next we were off to Bethlehem, to see where they believe that Jesus was born… which was not far from my favorite coffee shop… I think… Then we visited where they believe the shepherds were keeping their sheep… with lots of cool and deep caves in the mountainside. It is not hard to imagine this as being the place where the shepherds heard the “good news of great joy for all the people.
Then we visited the location of the Last Supper, then to Caiphas’ house where Jesus was taken for trial and held waiting the night under guard.
We visited a dry cistern that could have been where Jesus was held, and then saw the walkway that it is most likely that Jesus walked to be crucified. There is something incredibly powerful about being at this history changing locations, picturing in our minds eye, what it must have been like.
Jesus Trial and Crucifixion
We then visited a couple of locations where they believe that Jesus was crucified and then where he was placed in the grave.
We are so grateful to all who made this trip of a lifetime possible for Robin and I. There were twenty in our group when we began, and we only knew Garry Zeek. By the end we had created a bond that is hard to explain as we experienced the Holy Land as a bunch of pilgrims, not knowing that the trip would have such a profound impact on our lives.
Thank you Jesus that this lifelong dream became a reality that we will cherish the rest of our lives.