Happy Shabot (day of rest)! In Israel, they observe the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday
evening, so today is their day of rest. This morning we awoke to the sound of rolling waves and sea air –
a beautiful way to start our first official day in Israel. At breakfast we were quite surprised by some of
the common Israeli food. No one expected salted fresh fish or ravioli in a cream sauce for breakfast!
Luckily for those who weren’t quite as brave, they also had more traditional items like eggs, waffles, and
fruit.
After breakfast, we quickly gathered our luggage and headed for the Mediterranean Sea! We
were vey blessed with calm weather and held our first devotions ankle deep in the salt water. George
provided great encouragement for us and our first lesson as we began our first true day in Israel. He told
the group that by coming on this trip, “you held out your cup” to receive all of God’s blessings that He’s
already pouring out and that we should always be ready receive more.

Then we learned about the power of light. In the dark, we might stumble, but in the light, we can see the way. At the same time, in the dark, we cannot see anything for what it really is. Yet, the light reveals what we do not see, and God
says that it is good. Jesus also described Himself as the Light of the World. In this way, we are called to
be lights for those who do not know Jesus, or for those who need a reminder of God’s goodness. When
people see us living like Christ, they will notice! When others see us rejoicing God through hard times,
they will notice! And we will give all the glory to God when they ask us what sets us apart. Together we
said the Shema, the central prayer in Judaism, in both Hebrew and English, and before long, it was time
to hit the road.
Driving through Tel Aviv during the day was entirely different than experiencing it at night – for
obvious reasons. We were able to really take in the city for the first time, and, honestly, it wasn’t that
different from cities like Chicago. Tel Aviv has many skyscrapers and billboards; they drive on the right
side of the road; the road signs are green and brown; even the powerlines and light poles looked the same as back home! If it weren’t for the signs written in Hebrew or Arabic, you might never know we
left the states!
Our next stop was a pair of aqueducts that transported water from the Sea of Galilee all the way
to Caesarea. Here, in the presence of the first ruins of the trip, George taught us the power of water.
We learned that in all of the Middle East, there was (and is) only one natural fresh water source (or
“sweet water” as the Israelis like to call it) – the Sea of Galilee. This means that water is incredibly
precious to the Israel natives, especially in Biblical times. Herod the Great had to build massive
aqueducts to transport water to his otherwise marshy city that would have failed without the water
supply. Having water meant survival, but it also was the foundation for success in Israel. Jesus described
Himself as Living Water and that whoever believe in Him become springs of living water themselves. We,
as believers, have the power of water in us, and through that power, God has used or will use us to do
many great things for His glory.
Here at the aqueducts, we also learned about the power of words. God’s words have so much
authority that when He says something, it happens. In Genesis 1, God separates the light from the dark,
divides the water from the land, and completes all of creation by the power of His words alone. No one
else commands the same authority. In chapter 2, we see the power of words given to humanity; Adam
named every living creature, and whatever he called it, that became its name. Unfortunately, we have
been called (and have called others) some awfully bad names. In Hebrew, God calls us His segulaha,
meaning we are His most treasured possessions (Exodus 19). Now that is a pretty great name! We
should not only believe in that name, but we should also use our words to help others believe in that
name too.
Driving up a mountain, we visited Mount Carmel, the place where Elijah faced the 450 prophets
of Baal (1 Kings 18). We walked part of the very uneven, rocky terrain, and quickly developed a sense of
how arduous a task it was for Elijah to ask for 12 full jugs of water (which we already learned was
incredibly precious to Israel!) upon an altar that was supposed to catch fire. High upon this mountain,

George spoke about Elijah and the qol dmamah daqah – the “still, small voice” of God. After Elijah
defeats the prophets of Baal, he travels around 260 miles on foot to meet God. Yet, Elijah does not hear
from God in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire; he hears him in the qol dmamah daqah. Sometimes
God reveals himself in magnificent ways such as engulfing a soaked altar in flames or sending plagues
(often called “wonders” by the Israelites) upon the Egyptians. Other times, God wants to meet us in the
qol dmamah daqah, and we simply need to listen for his voice.
Our longest, and last, stop of the day was at the ruins of Zippori, the first capital city built by
Herod Antipas. We delved into an enormous cistern where water was collected from all the surrounding
homes during the rainy season so that they would have water for the dry season. The power of water
was demonstrated to an even greater effect as we admired this man-made cistern and understood in a
more tangible way just how desperate the people were for water.
In this place, George spoke about the power of names. The ability to name comes with great
power in the Bible. We’ve already learned that God created by the power of His words, but He also uses
His authority to name His creations. He has called the light “light” and called the darkness “darkness.”
Similarly, we have been given the power of names as well. When Adam named the animals, he then
became responsible for them. When we name our children, they are our responsibility. Through the
power of names, we are stewards of creation. The Earth will take care of us when we take care of it.
We then made our way to an olive tree between the cistern and the city. The Bible references
olive trees often because they grow so abundantly in Israel; however, because we don’t live near olive
trees at home, we don’t always understand what the authors really write. Specifically, Romans 11 uses
the olive tree as a metaphor to the gentiles, and we discussed the power of roots. When it comes to the
olive tree, the life is in the roots. People who harvest olives understand this, and they regularly cut off
large branches from the trees. Doing so reduces the amount of fruit the tree bears for a short time, but
from the single cut branch sprouts many new shoots. Yet, even within the new growth, the caretaker
will only choose a few of the new branches to keep, and he will cut the rest. In some cases, the caretaker will take shoots from a wild olive tree and graft them into one of his own; he would literally
push the wild shoots into the crevices of his tree. The olive tree will suddenly produce more fruit in
response to the strange new shoots! Not only that, but in time the wild shoots would become “sewn” in
to the olive tree and begin to produce the same olives as the rest of the tree! And this is all made
possible because the life of the tree is in the roots. Seeing a real olive tree and hearing about the care
for it truly made Paul’s metaphor of the church, with God and Jesus as the roots, come to life in an
amazing way.
Finally, we explored the beautiful stone ruins of Zippori. Still being used for excavation, we
walked upon huge stone pavers that had grooved indentions from chariots. We saw many remnants of
pillars and walls. We gazed upon ornate mosaic sidewalks all laid by hand with natural colored stones
and passed a large amphitheater and fortress at the top of a hill. The city was magnificent. The most
impressive spaces were two buildings that contained extremely elaborate mosaics on the floors. And
here, we learned that we were probably standing in a city where Jesus once stood himself.
When Herod Antipas chose to build Zippori, he demanded that all tektons within 25 miles be
brought to the city. The Greek word tekton refers to any form of builder (i.e. Anyone who worked with
hauling stone, laying stone, designing mosaics, creating mosaics, etc. was a tekton). However, when
tekton is translated to English, it is often translated to “carpenter”, meaning that Jesus and Joseph were
tektons! Also, Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, was only 7 miles from Zippori, which was well within the
25 mile radius! As a result, Jesus and Joseph were likely helping build Zippori some 2000 years before we
stepped foot in the space today. How cool is that?!
Now we’ve driven to Galilee where we’ll spend the day tomorrow. We’re staying in Ein-Gev right
off the shores of the Sea of Galilee; we love our waterfronts! Everyone in our group is doing great, and
we are all really starting to get to know each other. Today we celebrated Jen’s birthday! We’re sure this
will be a memorable one for her. Trynie has also impressed us all as one of our oldest members who is
consistently keeping up with George at the front of the group! God has blessed us with an outstanding group. We are very excited for all the sites and knowledge that God pours upon us through George. In  the words of George himself, “We’ll see what God gives!”

One thought on “The Power of…”

  1. Sheila says:

    Love this commentary. Brings back images and sensations from our trip. Blessings for God’s revelations every day.

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