• Written by Tabita Oakley

Within the first day of our trip, I quickly realized that saying, “That’s so cool!!!” fails to do justice to what we are seeing and doing. But, at risk of over use, I keep saying it anyway because I feel like a little kid: excited to be part of something that is bigger than myself though I can’t fully wrap my mind around. This is one of the blessings of walking with Jesus for every follower … which takes us to our day today.

This morning we set out early for Mt. Arbel, and although it isn’t specifically named in the Bible, it is believed to be “the mountain” referred to in the gospels that Jesus climbed up to spend time with the Father in pray—maybe even for His own disciples—a humbling thought for sure. It was no easy hike, and we were drenched with sweat (on reflection, I’m impressed by how Jesus could do this stuff in sandals), but the view from the top was astoundingly beautiful. With the Sea of Galilee stretched before us, we all took a few minutes for prayer and reflection, taking in the primary scene of Jesus’ ministry surrounding were we sat.

Upon coming down the mountain, we traveled to another mountain, though smaller :) … and thanks to our faithful bus driver we didn’t have to climb up this one, but we all stepped out and took the time to each read a portion of Jesus’ well-known sermon on the mount … at the likely location He preached it, the Mt. of Beatitudes!

We had the amazing privilege to see other places Jesus lived His earthly life and preached repentance and the good news of the coming kingdom of God with the invitation/command to join. For instance, seeing the site of the synagogue where Jesus was known to have definitely preached in (Capernaum) was for me mind-blowing—especially, since I had no idea before coming here that it was still in existence!

Nearby to the synagogue was a local insula, a Jewish family unit. Fascinatingly, archeologists have found prayers inscribed in the walls of this inner room … which along with other facts makes this to be the possible home belonging to Peter’s mother-in-law and also the place where Jesus stayed. As our Hebrew guide well put it, although some of these sites cannot be 100% confirmed, the likelihood is very good and the mystery just adds to the beauty of the thing.

Upon visiting (and getting to walk through!) another insula in Chorzain, Nathan had us reflect on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son in light of the significance of being a part of the family community back in Jesus day. The way their homes (insulas) were set up, as children grew up and married and started families of their own, they would build onto the father’s home. This would create one “giant” home (insula). Thus, for any son to leave and squander the patriarch’s heritage would be scandalous. Even more scandalous for the father to bring son back into the community as he did in the story of the Prodigal Son. Praise God, that He has given us just such a grace and more.

We ended our day similar to how Jesus ended His earthly ministry: by the Sea of Galilee. It was a fitting close since we began on “the mountain,” and finished with a pleasant boat ride across the sea where He had His last recorded personal conversation with His disciples. We even had a fishing demonstration where our fisherman cast his net on both sides of the boat like Jesus told His disciples.

Overall, today was amazing, chuck full of “this is so cool” and “wows.”  I’m excitedly anticipating what tomorrow holds. Thanks for following and praying for us.

Interested in learning about future Deeper Christian Israel Study Tours? Our next trip is scheduled for April 2020 and details/registration will be announced early September. Go to to sign up for details/updates and to be notified first when the trip officially opens up.

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