The Apologetics Study Bible Tour to Israel…February 2017

Have you always wanted to see the Holy Land?

Would you like to walk where Jesus walked?

Do you have a thirst to learn more about the Bible?

An all-inclusive 15-day trip  (Feb. 16-March 2, 2017)

(Note: No funds from MRM goes to this trip!)

NOTE: Time is running out. We still have the possibility of adding a couple, as we have very limited room left.


Listen to this special Viewpoint on Mormonism show talking about this trip, Evidence from Israel

Join MRM’s Bill McKeever, Eric Johnson, and Randy and Carol Sweet as we consider some of the places/sites in Israel, with these special features:

  • Archaeologist Joel Kramer leads us for 3 days!
  • A day on the Mediterranean Coast
  • Sea of Galilee boat ride
  • Baptisms in Jordan River
  • Hike to Qumran Cave 1
  • Rabbi Tour of Western WallP1030041
  • Camel ride in the desert
  • Valley of Elah (David/Goliath)
  • Communion at Garden Tomb
  • Resort hotel at the Dead Sea
  • Travel diary for every traveler
  • Masada
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • 2 free DVDS
  • Trip prep w/emails and YouTube videos
  • And much more!


Day 1: Thursday, February 16, 2017 – LAX or CHICAGO 

Leave in the late afternoon or evening from Los Angeles International or Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Turkish Airlines.  (Getting there–domestic flight–is on your own.) The international flight includes three meals and on-board entertainment.

Day 2: Friday, February 17, 2017 – TEL AVIV

Today we will arrive in Tel Aviv at 10 p.m.. We will be met and loaded onto our motor coach for our drive to our hotel in Netanya, a short distance from Tel Aviv. We check into our hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 3: Saturday, February 18, 2017: JAFFA / CAESAREA / AKKO / HAIFA 

This morning we begin our day in Israel at Old Jaffa, which is known for being one of the oldest ports in the world. We’ll stop by the house that has been traditionally known as where Peter once stayed (Acts 9:43). We then take a drive to Caesarea, a port that was built by Herod the Great and dedicated to Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor. Here you will have a chance to sit in the Roman theatre, walk along the hippodrome, and check out a Crusader fort. You can also see where Herod’s palace once stood, as 2,000-year-old floor mosaics can still be seen on the shore. This is considered one of Israel’s major archaeological sites, and the Mediterranean Sea makes it one of the most beautiful places in the country. After an on-your-own lunch, we head over to Akko (Acre) which was the place of the main port of the Crusaders. We will tour an old Crusader fort. After this, let’s take a panoramic cable car ride up to the Stella Marisa Carmelite Monastery. Within a short hiking distance is a cave traditionally thought to be one where the prophet Elijah hid after the priests of Baal were killed on Mt. Carmel. Finally, our bus heads to Haifa, the final destination of the day. Time permitting, we will visit the gardens of the Bahai Temple. The Bahai religion is the third major world relgion based in Israel (Judaism and Christianity are the other two)> Dinner and hotel in Haifa for overnight. 

Day 4: Sunday, February 19, 2017: MT CARMEL / MEGIDDO / NAZARETH / BET SHEAN / TIBERIAS

This morning we begin by traveling to Mt. Carmel where Elijah challenged Baal’s priests. After lunch, we proceed to Megiddo to visit the excavations that unearthed 20 different civilizations. It is better known as Har Megiddo, or “Armageddon” according to Revelation.  We then proceed to Nazareth Village in Jesus’s hometown where we will go back 2,000 years and have a chance to interact with shepherds, carpenters, and others folks living in the boyhood days of Jesus. From here, we stop by the ancient city of Bet Shean, a place where Saul’s head was hung from the city wall after he was killed. It is a wonderful archaeological site that gives us an idea of what an ancient city looked like, with a theatre, baths, and a large “tell” which we can climb up.  This site comprises more than a dozen civilizations! An awesome site to walk! Finally, we make our way to our hotel (a kibbutz) in Tiberias on the shore Sea of Galilee for dinner on the first of our three-night stay. Before dinner, feel free to swim in the Sea of Galilee and be sure to visit the kibbutz’s petting zoo!


Today we go to the northern part of Israel (Galilee), starting with Chorazi and Bethsaida before driving through the Hula Valley to Hazor, where we will see ruins of the powerful Canaanite city destroyed by Joshua and rebuilt by King Jabin and then by Solomon as a chariot city to command upper Galilee. We continue to the northern limits to Dan, where we combine a nature walk beside the Upper Jordan with views of the ancient ruins, topped by the Israelite high place that supported a golden calf (I Kings 12). Next we’ll take a short drive to Banias (Caesarea Philippi), dedicated to Pan the Greek god of pastures, flocks and shepherds, where Peter made his great profession of faith. Driving along the base of Mount Hermon, we ascend onto the Golan Plateau for a magnificent view of upper Israel. Return to the hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight. If his schedule permits, tonight we have a special presentation as a local Jewish high school history teacher gives us a hands-on lesson on geography and the biblical history of Israel.


This morning is a special time to practice the ordinance of water baptism. We will go to the Jordan River where those participants who have never been baptized (or who do not remember their infant baptisms) will have a chance to give their testimony and be immersed the same way as Jesus. From here we’ll take an early morning boat ride on the Sea of Galilee to view the same shores seen by Jesus. It will be a chance to meditate, worship, and even learn a Jewish dance. After this, we will see a New Testament boat found two decades ago during a drought dating to the time of the apostles. Next we continue to Capernaum where the home of Peter’s mother-in-law and the town’s synagogue can be seen. We will then have a very special lunch, stopping at a Sea of Galilee restaurant to experience a St. Peter’s fish lunch—get ready to take a picture of your meal! This lunch is included and there will be no additional cost. After lunch, we visit Christian churches located at Tabgha (loaves and fishes) and the Mount of Beatitudes—a place where we can read from the Sermon on the Mount.  We will spend the night at the Sea of Galilee for a third night and prepare for our drive south in the morning.

DAY 7 – Wednesday, February 22, 2017– CAMEL RIDE / EIN GEDI / MASADA / DEAD SEA RESORT HOTEL

We wake up early and start the day by taking an extended bus ride down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on the earth (1300 feet below sea level). Before we arrive, we will go to a Bedouin camp where we can ride camels in the desert. This is what it must have felt like 2,000 years ago! Next we visit Ein Gedi and take in a little bit of Paradise in the desert as we observe the wildlife and a wonderful waterfall. In one of these caves above the waterfall area where we will have a devotional, David found Solomon and cut off part of his robe. After sampling authentic Bedouin tea or coffee, we head over to Masada and ascend by cable car to the magnificent ruins of the fortress where, from AD 70-73, Jewish defenders made their historic stand in the Judean revolt against Rome. We will have a chance to explore as we walk through the storehouses, cisterns, and palace created by Herod the Great. We then head over to the Dead Sea where we have planned a special retreat at a resort hotel. This is a place where you can enter the waters of the Dead Sea for a swim and mud yourself. Or, if you’d like, utilize the basement spa area of the hotel—just sit back and let the bubbles relax you.


Let’s start the story of Jesus right by heading back north to the Herodium, the palace set in a conical mountain that was built by Herod the Great and where his tomb was uncovered in 2007. Remember, it was Herod was visited by the Wise Men. He did what he could to prevent the “King of Kings” from being born, including the “Massacre of the Innocents.” After seeing this man’s monument to himself, let’s go visit one of the possible sites for the Shepherds’ Fields—perhaps we could celebrate Christmas a bit early by singing “Silent Night” inside one of the caves! Bethlehem is where Jesus was born, a direct fulfillment of Micah 5:2. We can visit the Church of the Nativity where, in a basement cave, we will stand in the same place where the Savior was born. We will also visit the quarters where Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century. Let’s take time out for lunch as well as shop at an olive wood store run by believers. Now we head toward Jerusalem, certainly the most popular and important city in Israel. We will stop by a lookout point that allows us to see the entire city and get our picture taken. Then we will go down and visit Mt. Zion, seeing sites traditionally linked with the Upper Room and the tomb of King David. Finally, let’s go to our hotel, the Ambassador (a personal favorite), for dinner and overnight. After dinner, filmmaker/ archaeologist Joel Kramer speaks to the group about the science of archaeology.


Today we will have a chance to see sites that many tourists will never experience, as Joel Kramer will lead us for the second day. First, we begin at Jacob’s Well in Nabalis where Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4). Drink a cup of cold water from this deep well! From here, we visit the traditional place of the patriarch Joseph’s tomb. Next we go up to the hill of Mt. Gerizim and see the site where the Samaritans still worship today. Next we then head over to Sheckem where a gate from the time of Abraham and a temple mentioned in Judges are located. Then we proceed to Samaria to see the Israelite ruins of the capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. SPECIAL ADDITION: We will have a smorgasbord at a special restaurant in Samaria, included with your trip, compliments of Eric Johnson and the good folks at Maranatha Tours. (No additional cost.)  You will eat like a king, with incredible dishes of a variety of foods brought to your table. And you’ve never had better hummus! Note: You are not allowed to leave the table until you’re stuffed! From here we will head over to a possible location for Ai, the city conquered by the Israelites (see Judges). Next to Ai is Bethel, where Abraham pitched his tent. Few of your friends have ever seen these sites, with full commentary by Joel Kramer! Dinner / overnight at the hotel.

Day 10 – Saturday, February 25, 2017 – QUMRAN / JERICHO / SHILOH / AMBASSADOR (WITH JOEL KRAMER)

We begin today’s journey at Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947. Ancient Jews called the Essenes copied several hundred manuscripts (later known as the Dead Sea Scrolls), including the earliest copies we have of the Old Testament. We can look around the village where these Jews lived 2,000 years ago. For those in shape and who are more adventurous, we will take a hike up the hill to Cave 1, the place where Bedouin shepherds first found the scrolls. (Warning: this trek is not for the timid! Bring good shoes and gloves to hold onto the sharp rocks.) We will hear a devotional from Joel in front of the cave, and you will have a chance to go inside the cave where the scrolls were first discovered. (Those who are not interested may stay in the Qumran Village and shop for Dead Sea salts and lotions.) Next we head over to Jericho, the city of Palms, where Joel will give us an on-site “rest of the story” to the complimentary DVD that you received for signing up on this trip. We’ll also stop by Herod’s palace that is now in ruins. We’ll end the day at Shiloh, a place where the tabernacle rested for many years before it went to Jerusalem. You will see the area where the tabernacle was placed, with the holes for the tents still in the rocks 3,000 years later! We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.


We begin the day traveling to “Tel Lachish,” which is the site of an Old Testament city and is now an archaeological site as well as an Israeli national park. Next we go to Gezer, an ancient Canaanite city 20 miles west of Jerusalem. Because the Israelites never fully obeyed God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites, they eventually lost this city to the Philistines. We’ll hear about the child sacrifice that was practiced by the pagan nations, a good reason God why wanted these enemies of God eliminated. Next we go to the Valley of Elah, the place where David fought Goliath. From a certain location, you will be able to see exactly where the battle took place and even view the stream where David picked up his rocks. Next, we head to Jerusalem and Mt. Zion and the “Mother of All Churches”—the Church of the Dormition on Mt. Zion. This church traditionally marks the place where Pentecost took place. Then we go down the hill to the old city where Joel will take us to see some archaeological digs that he’s been involved just outside the city walls as well as visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—this is the authentic place where Jesus was crucified and buried. Although there is plenty of tradition here that goes beyond the biblical facts, Joel will help us cut through the incense so we can understand the historical significance of this site. For those who are interested in shopping, you can stay in the city to be picked up later by the bus, or you have the option to head directly to the hotel. At this point we will say our goodbyes to Joel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.


This morning we will visit the Temple Mount, which is where the Dome of the Rock is located. This is the site where the Holy of Holies was located. We’ll then go down to visit the Western “Wailing” Wall, the holiest place in all of Judaism, before touring the Rabbi Tunnel, which takes us down to the very foundation of the walls. From here, we will visit the Southern (Teaching) Steps—Jesus was certainly here, right outside the temple itself. We will enter the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to visit the Wohl Archaeological Museum. Remains of this area of Jerusalem date back to the time of the Herodian Dynasty (37 BC to AD 70). After lunch, you have a choice: you can either go with our guide on a Stations of the Cross walk through Jerusalem, ending up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, or for those who would like to hike on Jerusalem’s walls, you can join Eric Johnson for just a few dollars (admission) to see the city both inside and outside these massive walls last constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent five centuries ago. If you are in shape, this is a hike you ought to consider! We head back to the hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.


We begin by visiting Yad Vashem (a Holocaust Museum) to see what evil man is capable of doing without God. Next we head over to the Israel Museum to see some very important artifacts, including the ossuary of Caiaphas and the Dan inscription referring to David. On the same campus we can also visit the Shrine of the Book where important manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls are found, and we can also see the Holy Land Map, which is a city block and allows for an understanding of the city of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. From here we go to Gallicantu. It was here, some suggest, where the high priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus. We can then take a short hike over to Hezekiah’s Tunnel to wade in the knee-high water. This tunnel is specifically mentioned in the Bible and is 1500+ feet in length. Feel the walls that were chiseled 2700 years ago, all the while sloshing through this water tunnel! The water there’s time, we can stop by Schindler’s gravesite (of Schindler’s List fame).We head back to the hotel for dinner and overnight.


We begin the day at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, which is perfectly preserved from the Crusader period – with remarkable acoustics. Why don’t we sing “Amazing Grace” together! You have never heard this hymn sung more sweetly than here. Our next destination takes us across the valley to the Mount of Olives and down to the Garden of Gethsemane. There are olive trees in this garden 2,000+ years old! This is where Jesus prayed before getting betrayed and arrested. We then head over to the Garden Tomb! A private communion service will be given at a possible site of the tomb. The words “He is not here. He is risen indeed” will have extra meaning for everyone as we return home the next day from this wonderful trip. For the afternoon, those who would like to finish exploring Jerusalem or complete your shopping can do so. Others who want to rest for our trip tomorrow can do that as well by returning to the hotel. Tonight, we have our final dinner and prepare for the next day’s early flight.

P1030316DAY 15 – Thursday, March 2, 2017 – JERUSALEM / TEL AVIV / USA

We transfer this morning to the airport for flights back to the U.S.A  Knowing we have walked in the footsteps of Jesus and the early Christians on such a memorable tour will bring new meaning to our Bible reading and will enable us to better “own our own faith.” Truly this has been an unforgettable experience!

About Joel KramerDSC04326

Joel Kramer has led a life of adventure. (If you doubt this, just read his 2001 book Beyond Fear: A Harrowing Journey Across New Guinea through Rivers, Swamps, Jungle, and the Most Remote Mountains in the World).  Joel has produced a number of feature-length and short-length videos on a number of topics, including Mormonism, polygamy, the Worldwide Church of God, and archaeology. (You can see his DVDs on Joel served as a pastor at the Brigham City Main Street Church before moving to Israel about a decade ago. Joel has studied archaeology at schools in Israel and has worked hands-on with top-notch archaeologists, including Shimon Gibson. In late 2016, Joel and his family will move to Jordan for a short time, but in February 2017 he will return for a few days so he can take us to fascinating sites such as Jericho, Jacob’s Well, and Shiloh. In the previous five trips organized by Eric Johnson, Joel has spoken to the travelers or guided us, and he is somebody you don’t want to miss!

About Eric JohnsonISR_2203

Eric Johnson has had the opportunity to travel to Israel six times (five of which he was the organizer of the trip). He taught for many years in Southern California (Christian High School Bible department head, professor at several colleges and Bethel Seminary San Diego, where he received his M.Div. in 1991). Eric and his family moved to Utah in 2010 in order to work full-time with Bill McKeever, with whom he has authored several books, including Answering Mormons’ Questions (Kregel 2013) and Mormonism 101 (Baker 2015).  Eric has had a chance to bring his entire family and his sister Kirsten to Israel, as well as to Egypt and Turkey. Eric and his wife Terri have also explored biblical sites in Italy and Greece. While Eric was in seminary in the 1980s, he traveled throughout Europe with his sister Heidi for close to a month. He loves taking people to the Holy Land to allow them a chance to explore “God’s country” for themselves. The topic of archaeology especially interests him.

Special features about this tripIMG

  • Air transportation from LAX or Chicago–your choice
  • Full-time guide / bus / driver
  • 3- and 4-star hotels
  • All admission fees
  • 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner buffet
  • 2 lunches, St. Peter’s fish lunch and Samaritan lunch
  • Travel Diary of the Holy Land, specifically for your trip (designed and produced by Eric Johnson–see the diary from the 2015 trip to your right)
  • Email correspondence throughout the trip from Eric Johnson, including teaching, tips, video links, etc
  • Joel Kramer DVD–Jericho Unearthed
  • If you live in Utah, Eric will teach 3-4 times in the months preceding the trip
  • A 50-day Devotional Preparation Guide (given PDF)
  • And so much more!

How much does this trip cost?

This 15-day trip is $4795. The price is all-inclusive, air from Chicago. All taxes and tips are included in the price. (Domestic air not included) The optional insurance package is $240 (for both Turkey and Israel) and is HIGHLY recommended.

Space on this trip is limited–A $300 nonrefundable deposit is required, all the rest is due December 28th.

Maranatha Tours has been guiding trips to the Holy Land since 1974. They are a Christian company run by the Reilly family and are awesome people. If you would like more information about this trip, you can contact them by phone at 602-788-8864. Ask for Shay, as she is our rep. Also feel free to write Eric at eric at mrm dot org

Check out our article 7 reasons why you ought to consider coming to the Holy Land

I encourage you to look at some of the videos below to help you see what a great trip this really is!

An overview of what this trip would look like

An interview with two students who traveled with me in 2011

Joel Kramer speaks at Cave 1 in Qumran (the exact place the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered) on our trip in 2015