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Tel Dan and Caesarea Philippi

 

Tel Dan.  After we left our boat tour on the Sea of Galilee we headed for Tel Dan. Because of being in wheelchairs, we were only able to do the nature preserve portion of this area. This was a beautiful area surrounding the start of the Dan River. The trails through here were flat and mostly boardwalk which made it very easy for wheelchairs. You could hear the rushing waters and we were surrounded by beautiful trees and serenity.

 

This area is the most northern part of Israel, where the tribe of Dan lived during Old Testament times. The peacefulness of the area we were in was in stark contrast to the ancient city of Dan which we were not able to go to because of being in wheelchairs. The Dannites set up idolatrous worship in the city, and later Jereboam set up a golden calf there as well.

 

The Dan River is one of the three sources of water that creates the Jordan River. This area is also known as Seven Springs. The springs are salt water and are prevented from mixing with the fresh waters of the Sea of Galilee since this is where Israel gets most of its drinking water from.

 

After leaving Tel Dan we drove to Caesarea Philippi or Banias.

 

Caesarea Philippi.  When we arrived at Caesarea Philippi, our bus parked in a large parking area that gave us plenty of room to get off the bus. Once we left the parking lot, we were in a large open area that was right in front of the main cave with an incredible view of the entire area and cliffs. In Matthew 16 it says that Christ came into the district of Caesarea Philippi when he questioned his disciples of who they thought the Son of Man is. This is when Peter made his great confession. Christ replied to Peter in verse 18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We read that passage, and looking up, there were the Gates of Hell right in front of us. I had always read that passage of Scripture with only a spiritual application in my mind. Once again the life of Christ was made so real for me. I discovered that many times in the New Testament, Christ used his present day experiences and places to teach his listeners who could relate. When Christ said, “Gates of Hell,” He may very well have been looking at the same place that I was looking at. At the very least, He certainly knew of the place. Caesarea Philippi, also called Banias and the Gates of Hell, was the location of a pagan temple that worshiped the god Pan. The people had carved out caves in the face of the cliff for idols, and the temple would have been on the high ground just to the right of the Gates of Hell. Human sacrifices were made here, and their blood would have run down the face of the cliffs. The cliffs were red in color, and the imagery was amazing with the large cavern at the base of the cliff. Yes, Christ intended a spiritual application that the power of hell would not prevail again the church. He also used where the people lived and what the people knew to make his point.

 

The terrain here was not the easiest for wheelchairs. It was cement and rocks, gravel, and then further up, large open gaps in the path with just a hard dirt surface. Most of us in wheelchairs, myself included, did not go up to the large cave. However, Dr. Hartman and his son carried Tad, a member of our group, to the cave entrance while my daughter carried his wheelchair for him. Tad’s motto for the entire trip was, “If there is a will, there is a way.”

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