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Geography has always been a difficult subject for me. That has certainly been my struggle in following the stories of the patriarchs and the prophets of the Old Testament and of Jesus and the disciples in the New Testament. My only experience with Dan and Beersheba, with Jerusalem and Jericho, have been the two dimensional kind you get from studying a map. I have long desired a three dimensional experience with these significant places of the Bible. I want to feel the breeze blowing in from the Sea of Galilee, I want to taste the water from Jacob’s well, I want to be immersed in the same Jordan river where Jesus was baptized.
That’s why this trip is a dream come true. I can just now imagine the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Joshua and Gideon, of Jesus and the disciples to coming to life in a whole new way. I cannot think of any better means of doing that than by walking on the same ground they walked on and seeing the same sights they saw.
This may be a once in a lifetime trip for you or it may be a return voyage to the place that holds such significance to your faith. Either way, I want to encourage you to come with us as we explore the landscape of our Christian heritage. A trip like this has the potential to do much more than merely inform us. I hope to come away from it with a deepened appreciation for the story of salvation, a clearer perspective of the Biblical witness and with stronger relationships forged through common experience.
Join us as we travel to the land where the Bible was written and our salvation was won.
Dr. Jason Burden
PRE EXTENSION TOUR TO ITALY
DAY 1 – Saturday, July 18, 2015
HOUSTON / ROME
Today we will meet at Houston International airport for our connecting flights to Rome via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.
DAY 2 – Sunday, July 19, 2015
Upon arrival in Rome we are met by our guide who will be with us for the time we are in Italy. We proceed to our hotel where we check in for dinner and overnight.
DAY 3 – Monday, July 20, 2015
ROME/ VATICAN CITY/ PAPAL AUDIENCE/ CATACOMBS/ 3 FOUNTAINS/OUTSIDE THE WALLS
This morning we visit the Vatican Museum and Gallery, Raphaels Rooms with their wonderful frescoes, the Sistine Chapel -where Michelangelos recently restored masterpieces adorn the ceilings and walls – and Pincio Garden. If the Holy Father is in town we will go to a Papal Audience to hear him. Continue into St. Peters Basilica and view Vatican City.This afternoon we will visit the most interesting sites which are linked with the life of the Apostle Paul in Rome. Paul worked as a leather tanner and met with the first Christians in Rome and see “In loco qui dicitur Pauli” (In the place called “of Paul”). Visit the church where you can still see the big Doric Capital wsed by Apostle Peter to baptize Prisca. Continue to the CATACOMBS OF SAN SEBASTIAN the place where the bodies of Paul and Peter were kept during the Christian persecution where we see “grafiti” in Latin and Aramaic. Our next stop is at the ABBEY OF THE THREE FOUNTAINS is the place of Paul’s martyrdom, where tradition has it that three different springs gushed out at each spot touched when Paul’s head fell down. On to ST PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS is a Benedictine Abbey with the adjoining basilica. Visit the Basilica where the bones of Paul have recently been found and you will leave Rome with the real spirit of first Christians in your mind and in your Heart Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 4 – Tuesday 21, 2015
FORUM/ MAMERTINE PRISON/ COLOSSEUM
This morning you have a walking tour through the real core of Ancient Rome. See the great “power” of Rome and Emperors who demanded divinity for themselves. Paul preached against in Romans 1, 25 See the Trajans Column, Via del Fori Imperiali (street of the Imperial For a) and ruins of the fori. See the Forum of Trajan, on to the Capitoline Hill, the seat of the Municipality. Contnue to the Piazza del Campidoglio, to see the statue of Marcus Aurelius. Continue to the Roman Forum, the Curia (seat of the Roman Senate), the basilicas, palaces of justice and the temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestals. Continue to Mamertine Prison it was here that Paul was held waiting for trial.
Visit the fabulous origins of Rome: the Palatine. Here Romolus founded the town in the year 753 B.C. and starting with Augustus the great emperors settled here, admire the Domus Tiberiana only partially explored and the ruins of the Imperial Palaces. We will find the Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate the victory of the emperor over Maxentius in the 4th century A.D (tradition says that before the battle the Emperor saw a brilliant cross in the sky and said the famous words “in hoc signo vinces”). We will end our day at the Colosseum everlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and the stage for the historical fights of the gladiators.
DAY 5 Wednesday 22, 2015
ROME / Athens / Corinth / Tel Aviv / Netanya
This morning we will fly to Athens. We immediately travel west with a rest stop and photos at the Corinth Canal. We then travel to the ancient city of Corinth, another treat for the New Testament scholar. Corinth is the city that inspired many of Paul’s most familiar letters. See the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the Bema, and the Temples. Then back to Athens taking in the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and Erectheum before viewing Athens atop Mars Hill where Paul stood and preached the truth to the Gentile nation. This afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to Tel Aviv. Upon arrival we will be taken to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
ISRAEL BEGINS HERE
DAY 1 – Tuesday 21, 2015
HOUSTON / TEL AVIV
Today we will meet at Houston International airport for our connecting flights to Tel Aviv via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.
DAY 2 – Wednesday 22, 2015
TEL AVIV / JAFFA / NETANYA
Upon arrival in Tel Aviv we are met by our guide who will be with us for the time we are in the Holy Land. Board our bus and travel through Tel Aviv, the largest city in Israel. Our first stop will be at Jaffa (Joppa), the city of Jonah, where Peter had his housetop experience at the home of Simon the Tanner. We proceed to the city of Netanya, on the Mediterranean to our hotel where we will check in overnight.
DAY 3 – Thursday, July 23, 2015
NETANYA / CAESAREA / MEGIDDO / NAZARETH / TIBERIAS
This morning we proceed to Caesarea, capital of the Roman procurators of Judea. Visit the Roman port, Crusaders Moat, Roman theater and aqueduct. Continue to Muhraka on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged Baal’s priests.
This afternoon, after a Middle Eastern lunch at a Druse restaurant, we proceed to Megiddo to visit the excavations that unearthed 20 different civilizations. We will pass a rolling stone tomb near Megiddo and then travel toward the Galilee and stop at Harod Springs where Gideon downsized his army to 300. Our next stop is at Tel Jezreel, the city of Ahab and Jezebel seeing the remains of the wall where Jezebel was thrown off. Below Tel Jezreel is Jezreel Spring where Saul gathered his men the night before fighting the Philistines when he and his sons were killed on Mt. Gilboa. We drive thru the Jezreel Valley passing by Shunem where Elisha raised a boy from the dead, and by Ophrah where Gideon resided. We ascend Mt. Precipice for a view of Nazareth, Mt. Tabor where Deborah defeated the Canaanites, and northern Armageddon. Then, it’s on to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 4 – Friday, July 24, 2015
TIBERIAS / UPPER GALILEE
Following breakfast, our morning travels take us to two valuable northern sites. Dan is where the children of Israel fell to the depths of pagan worship and see the city gate that Abraham entered. Next we travel to Caesarea Philippi, the site of Peter’s Confession. Next we travel to Capernaum where we will visit the ruins of an ancient synagogue and Peter’s home. Then we travel on to the site of the possible multiplication of loaves and fishes by the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea. Then we visit Tabgha “seven springs” where Jesus first called his disciples and where Jesus appeared to the Apostles after the resurrection. On to Ginnosar where we will view the ancient 1st Century Boat at an operating Kibbutz, then enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Sea of Galilee. A brief scripture reading and devotional on board brings to life the experiences of Jesus and the fishermen disciples concluding a wonderful day. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5 – Saturday, July 25, 2015
TIBERIAS / BET SHEAN / JACOB’S WELL
This morning we follow the Rift Valley running parallel to the Jordan, along the route Jesus most frequently traveled to Jerusalem. We visit Bet Shean at the foot of Mt. Gilboa, where King Saul was slain, see the evidences of Egyptian, Roman and Byzantine occupations, and view the ancient tel, Roman Theater and church mosaics. We then drive north through the Biblical heartland to Nablus (Schechem), we visit the alter on Mt. Ebal where Joshua renewed the covenant. We stop at nearby Jacob’s Well, site of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman. Joseph’s Tomb is 325 yards northwest of Jacob’s Well, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus. We will also visit Tel Balāṭa, the site of biblical Shechem. From there we visit the Old Testament city of Shilo that was home for the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant and you may walk to the likely plateau where it was pitched and picture the cloud pillar of God’s presence rising up above the valley walls. This would also be the spot where Hannah came to pray for a son. Later, she dedicated that son, Samuel, to serve in the Tabernacle. It was from Shiloh that the Ark was taken into battle and temporarily lost to the Philistines. Continue to The Holy City for a panoramic view before we head to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 6 – Sunday, July 26, 2015
JERUSALEM / MASADA / JERICHO
Today we drive to the Dead Sea. Masada and ascend by cable car to the magnificent ruins of the fortress where, from 70 to 73 AD, Jewish defenders made their last stand in the Judean revolt against Rome. We see the remains of storehouses, cisterns and a sixth-century Byzantine church. Continuing alongside the Dead Sea, 1300 ft. below sea level — the lowest spot on earth — we proceed to Ein Gedi where time permitting we will walk the path to see
the waterfall in the desert.
This afternoon we continue to Qumran and the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We will have a stop for lunch and for those that want to swim in the Dead Sea may. We travel eastward to Jericho to see the place of Herod’s winter palace, Zaccheus’ sycamore tree, Elisha’s Spring, then enter ancient Tel Jericho to see remains of fallen walls, and view the Mount of Temptation where Satan tempted Jesus. We drive thru the West Bank and Judean Wilderness to stop for a scenic view of the Wadi Qelt, St. George’ Monastery, and ancient Jericho Road. We will head up to Jerusalem stopping for a view of Valley of the Shadow of Death (upper Wadi Qelt) and return to the hotel for dinner.
DAY 7 – Monday, July 27, 2015
GIBEON, EMMAUS, HEBRON, BETH SHEMESH, ELAH VALLEY, HEBRON, BEERSHEBA
Today we travel west to West Jerusalem to visit the tomb of the prophet Samuel and a view of his hometown Ramah. Then view to Gibeon where the Lord appeared to King Solomon before he built the Temple, and the Pool of Gibeon where on one occasion a deadly battle between David’s men and Abner’s men took place at this pool (2 Sam 2). Then to Emmaus and the road where Jesus appeared to two disciples. We then travel to the Sorek Valley to Beth Shemesh where the Ark of the Covenant was carried from the Philistines by two cows pulling a cart. The next stop is Tel Azekah and the Valley of Elah, where David defeated Goliath stopping at the river bed in search of smooth stones for our sling. We then drive to where battles were fought at Mareshah and Lachish, then thru the land of the Philistines, passing the city of Gath and. We continue on to Beersheba and see Abraham’s well. Next we visit Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs. The cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham, and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, are all believed to be buried there. As we turn back toward Jerusalem, the drive thru the Negev is contrasted with Bedouin tents and herds of camels, donkeys, sheep, and stories of the Exodus and Israel wandering in the Wilderness of Zin.
DAY 8 – Tuesday, July 28, 2014
JERUSALEMICITY OF DAVID/RABBI TUNNEL I TEMPLE INSTITUTE I SHRINE OF THE BOOK
This morning, our guide will take us to an overview of the city from the hillside overlooking Jerusalem and the Gehenna Valley. This meaningful teaching time will bring together the many things that you have seen to date. We continue our sightseeing just outside the Dung Gate on the southeastern hill below the Temple Mount in the City of David. It was during the time of Solomon that the city limits extended past this part of Jerusalem. We visit Gihon Springs, the original water source for Jerusalem, view new excavations including a typical Israelite four-room house, the lower city wall and the cistern where Jeremiah was imprisoned. We will also see the tomb where King David was buried. A highlight today will be a water walk through the incredible Hezekiah’s Tunnel to the pool of Siloam, the place of Jesus’ miracle in John 9. Ascending up to the Jewish Quarter we see the gold Menorah built for the next Temple, the Temple Institute, the Burnt House, a 1st Temple period model of Jerusalem, the Broad Wall built by King Hezekiah, and the Roman Cardo. We will enter the Rabbi Tunnel by the Western wall plaza and go down to the foundation of the Second Temple. We will see a model that will demonstrate where we are in location to the Temple in the time of Christ. Continue along the tunnel as we proceed to the Gateway of the Priests entry to the Holy of Holies. Continue to Israel Museum and the Shrine of the book, and see the model city of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 9 – Wednesday, July 29, 2015
MT. OF OLIVES / PASSION WALK I BETHLEHEM
“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace” (Luke 19:42) we start the day with an orientation to Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives with an opportunity of a group photograph overlooking Jerusalem. We then walk the traditional Passion walk passing the tomb of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. We descend to the church known as Dominus Flevit (“Our Lord weeps”). After viewing the Golden Gate, we walk downhill to Gethsemane, where we take time to meditate on the Gospel text. We will walk by the tomb of the kings and get off at a roman road, where we climb Mt Zion to the grounds of a church called Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. (Here, the Assumptions Fathers suggest, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus.)
This afternoon driving south, we visit Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s main source of water for almost 2000 years. We will visit the Herodian the palace set in a conical mountain that was built by Herod to mark his tomb. We will proceed to the Shepherds’ Fields and time permitting sing a few Christmas carols. We conclude the day with a visit in Bethlehem, walking through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10 Thursday, July 30, 2015
OLD CITY I SOUTHERN WAll I VIA Dolorosa IGARDEN TOMB
“He has risen!” (Mark 16:6) After breakfast we transfer to the Dung Gate, we visit the Southern Wall Excavations. This southern side of The Temple was the main entrance for the common folk, whereas the Priests and Levites had their own entrance from the higher eastern side. Parts of the giant stairs, which led to the Temple Mount from the courtyard have been unearthed along with the purification pools. From here Jesus entered the Temple Mount and drove out the vendors and money exchangers who were exploiting the people. It is also likely that this is the place that Peter stood and preached and where thousands were saved and baptized on the Day of Pentecost. Then we walk up to the Western Wall Judaism’s holiest site. We ascend to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. It is believed that here is where the Temple once stood. Stop at the Steps that entered the temple. It was here that Jesus would taught the disciples. See a video that shows the temple as it was at Solomon’s time. Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, the church is perfectly preserved from the Crusader period – with remarkable acoustics. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) through the bazaars as far as the Holy Sepulcher. From there we walk through the Christian Quarter along the Arab Souks and past the Armenian Quarter.
This afternoon we will walk out to the Damascus Gate and go to the Garden Tomb where we will end our day with a special visit and the possibility of having a private communion on the grounds outside the city walls. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11 – Friday, July 31, 2015
JERUSALEM I TEL AVIV I HOUSTON
We transfer to the airport for our flight home with unforgettable memories to cherish always. Knowing we have walked in the footsteps of Jesus and the early Christians on such a memorable tour will bring new meaning to our Bible reading.
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