Adventist Review news editor Mark A. Kellner is part of a select group of Christian reporters, editors and broadcasters invited to visit Israel as guests of that nation's Ministry of Tourism and El Al Airlines. During the course of the visit, the group will see many of the major historical sites related to Christian and Jewish history in the land. In this blog, Mark shares his impressions of an ancient land and its ultramodern environment of today.
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INOSAR, Israel – On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, there’s a collective farm known as Kibbutz Ginosar. It’s one of the more famous of the kibbutzim, which is the plural of kibbutz, and twenty-five years ago, two of its members made a discovery that would make this farm even more famous.
It started with a rusty old nail, poking up in the dried-out bed of the shore of the Galilee. Usually, high water levels would obscure that patch of land, but that year was a bit dry. The nail caught the attention of brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, fishermen who lived on the kibbutz, and they kept probing the moist earth. One step led to another, and, finally the discovery of the remains of a fishing boat seemingly from the first century A.D. Careful excavation – by hand – was undertaken, and eventually the boat was sealed in polyurethane and transported to the Yigal Allon Museum at the kibbutz. Carefully preserved under wax, it’s on display right now.
Carbon dating authenticated the boat’s history: it really is from the first century. No one can prove who owned the boat, or who sailed in it. But there is one interesting fact: there are 12 different kinds of wood used in this boat, believed to represent each of the 12 tribes of Israel. If Jesus didn’t sail in this vessel, He very likely used one similar to it, and if this boat was on the water during Jesus’ ministry in the region, its occupants could very well have seen him.
It’s an inspiring sight, and one very well worth partaking while in this part of Israel.
Earlier, our party visited a park in northern Israel where there are ruins from Caesarea Philippi, the place where Peter said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Mark 8:27-30) There is a small stream that forms part of the headwaters of the Yarden, or Jordan, River, and there are ruins of pagan temples as well. Not everyone in Bible lands followed the God of Israel – nor does everyone here today.
The day concluded with a sail across the Sea of Galilee, in a much larger boat modeled after the traditional craft from the first century. Many tourists and pilgrims take these cruises, and I’m told some become quite emotional. Our group sang a few praise songs as we crossed, and being on the very body of water where the Master calmed the waves was an inspiring moment.
Tomorrow, we shall very literally walk where Jesus walked!