It's pretty incredible to see mosaic floors that have stood the test of hundreds of years' time!
Shortly after that stop, the sun came out! We made our way to the Tel Dan Nature Reserve where we enjoyed a lovely nature walk that included lots of foliage and rushing water. This is the location of multiple natural springs that feed into the Jordan River. It was a very refreshing place to be!
Some of our team on the hike.
"And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi." (1 Kings 12:26-31)
A re-creation of the altar structure that likely would have been used in Jeroboam's day built on top of the original ruins.
Up the steps you see to the right would have been the "high places" that we read about so often in the books of Kings and Chronicles where pagan worship took place.
Another verse says, "Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove." (2 Kings 23:15)
Overall, visiting the city ruins at Dan was an enlightening field trip into understanding this part of Old Testament history.
Jumping back into the New Testament, our next stop was Caesarea Philippi where Jesus' famous conversation with the disciples took place in which He asked them, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Due to the natural springs that are also found here, the area in Jesus' day was dedicated to the worship of a false god named Pan who supposedly lived in nature.
Shrines which remain from the idolatrous worship that took place here.
Over to the left, you can see a large cave opening in which was a giant rock slab used for various forms of sacrifice to Pan.
Nathan believes that Jesus might have been using this well-known rock as an object lesson to illustrate His point that He would build His church upon Himself (THE rock), and the various rocks of paganism and death would never overcome it.
More beautiful views of the natural springs.
Sampling the olive oil with bread.
That's a lot of olive oil!
The olive press is located in a beautiful facility...a warehouse of sorts with trees and birds inside!
After buying out their gift shop (or so it seemed!), it was time to load back on the bus.
The snow-capped peaks of Mt. Hermon
Here I am standing on the border of Israel and no-man's-land, with Syria just beyond it. We could hear artillery fire coming from Syria's civil war conflict and were reminded just much of a powder-keg the Middle East is! It's really amazing to learn how God has super-naturally protected and preserved His people in the midst of it all.