The CEBC Apologetics Study Bible Tour to Israel…February 17-March 1, 2018

Click here for the November 2017 Email communication

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 13-day trip to the Holy Land…like you’ve never seen it before!

(For more information, contact Eric Johnson: eric at mrm dot org)

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


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

Join Clairemont Emmanual Baptist Church’s Pastor Kenny and Cathy Dodd along with members from CEBC and Eric Johnson as we consider some of the places/sites in Israel, with these special features:

  • Archaeologist Joel Kramer leads us for 3 days!
  • Sea of Galilee boat ride
  • Baptisms in Jordan River
  • Hike to Qumran Cave 1
  • Rabbi Tour of Western Wall
  • Camel ride in the desert
  • Valley of Elah (David/Goliath)
  • Communion service at Garden Tomb
  • Masada
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • And much more!

Actual comments from previous travelers

“This trip has so much power to change you!”

“The thrill of walking where Jesus walked and seeing the hills that Jesus preached from…it changes the way you read the Bible. It’s definitely worth it!”

“My experience on this trip was unlike any other. I will never forget what I saw and felt as we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee — I knew I was seeing the same things that Jesus Himself saw. This was the trip of a lifetime and it was worth every cent!”

Click here for a letter written to Eric and Maranatha on 3/6/2017 by a passenger on the 2017 trip.

Videos from Ritch Sandford




DAY 1 – Saturday, February 17, 2018


Today we will meet at Los Angeles International airport for our connecting flights to Istanbul via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.

Hotel: Plane USA


DAY 2 – Sunday, February 18, 2018 TEL AVIV

Today we will arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our flight to Tel Aviv. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv we are met by our guide who will be with us for the time we are in the Holy Land. Board our bus and travel through Tel Aviv, proceeding to the city of Netanya on the Mediterranean to our hotel where we will check in for overnight.



This morning we begin our day at Caesarea, a port on the Mediterranean Sea 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 theater, 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. Paul was under arrest and certainly was here! This is considered one of Israel’s major archaeological sites, and the sea makes it one of the most beautiful places in the country. We proceed to Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s successful challenge with the Baal priests. We can look over the entire valley from this spot and get a good idea of the geography. 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 take a step back in time at Nazareth Village, which has been constructed to look like a 1st century village just like Jesus would have known. You will have a chance to talk to a shepherd, carpenter, and others who will speak in their first century way. It is quite an experience! Our next stop is 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 theater, baths, and a large “tell” which we can climb up.  This site comprises more than a dozen civilizations and is 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 get acquainted with “home” for the next three nights.



Today we go to the northern part of Israel (Galilee), starting with Chorazin 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 and have lunch. On our way back, let’s stop by Magdala along the Sea of Galilee and visit Mary Magdalene’s hometown. There is a first century synagogue here, the first to be found in the Galilee region. 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 by Pastor Kenny Dodd.  Next we continue to Capernaum where the home of Peter’s mother-in-law and the town’s synagogue can be seen. Let’s have lunch at a restaurant to partake of a St. Peter’s fish (or, if you wish, chicken) meal. 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. Our final activity is taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee…how exciting! We will have a chance to hear Christian worship music, dance to Jewish songs, and celebrate our time in the Holy Land. After this, we will see a New Testament boat found two decades ago during a drought dating to the time of the apostles. We will spend the night at the Sea of Galilee for a third night and prepare for our drive south in the morning.


P1030036DAY 6 – Thursday, February 22, 2018 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.


DAY 7 – Friday, February 23, 2018 HERODIUM / BETHLEHEM / JERUSALEM / MT. ZION

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. Our next stop is the city you have heard so much about, Jerusalem, the capitol of the Bible. We will drive around the Old City’s walls to give you a feel for where you are and end up on Mt. Zion to see the city from the best vantage point ever! Let’s be sure to take a group photograph of our first day in Jerusalem. We will end up to our hotel, the Ambassador (a personal favorite), for dinner and overnight. After dinner, filmmaker/ archaeologist Joel Kramer speaks to the group at the hotel about the science of archaeology (optional attendance).


DAY 8 – Saturday, February 24, 2018 BETHEL / AI / JACOB’s WELL /  SHECKEM / SAMARIA / SHILOH

(With Joel Kramer) Today we will have a chance to see sites that many tourists will never experience, as Joel Kramer will lead us. First, we begin at Ai, the city conquered by the Israelites (see Judges). Next to Ai is Bethel, where Abraham pitched his tent. Next we head over to Jacob’s Well in Nabalus where Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4). Drink a cup of cold water from this deep well! From here we head over to Our next destination is Samaria to see the Israelite ruins of the capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. After lunch, we will head over to Shiloh where the tabernacle of God was kept for hundreds of years before coming to Jerusalem. I promise, few of your friends have ever seen these sites, with full commentary by Joel Kramer! Dinner / overnight at the Ambassador.



(With Joel Kramer) We begin today’s journey by 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 to the old city where Joel will take us to see some archaeological digs that he’s been involved just outside the city walls. Then we will walk the less traditional (but more accurate) walk to 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. Now we will head over to 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. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.



(With Joel Kramer) We start at the City of David and Hezekiah’s Tunnel and hike 1749 feet from one end to the other. This tunnel was  dug by Hezekiah’s men in the 8th century B.C. We will also see the Pool of Siloam talked about the Bible, as part of it has recently been dug up! And Joel will show us a possible site for the actual tomb of King David in a rock-cut tomb near the Pool of Siloam. We get back on the bus and head over to 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 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 have lunch at Jericho and then return to Jerusalem. At this time we will say our goodbyes to Joel. This afternoon we return to the Old City and visit the Israel Museum where we will have a chance to see a gigantic map of ancient Israel that takes up a city block; the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept; and the Israel Museum where we can see (among other things) the Tel Dan Stele, the ossuary of Caiphas, and the Pontius Pilate inscription. 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. After lunch, we head toward Jerusalem, certainly the most popular and important city in Israel. Our final stop is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, so we can better understand this tragic event from the eyes of the Jewish people.  We end up at 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 led by Pastor Kenny 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. After lunch, you will have the freedom to head out on your own, with many possibilities, including walking the ramparts around Jerusalem (optional, small extra cost less than $5) that allows you to start near the Western Wall and walk all around the city (NOTE: There are steps, so be careful.); Explore the Old City on your own, as we will not see everything on our guided tour; or how about some shopping? Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight to prepare for our departure tomorrow morning.



DAY 13 – Thursday, March 1, 2018 JERUSALEM / HOME

We transfer to the airport for our flight home with unforgettable memories to cherish always. 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.




DAY 1 – Thursday, March 01, 2018 JERUSALEM / JORDAN RIVER / MT. NEBO / MADABA / PETRA

This morning we will go to the famous Allenby Bridge. We will cross over to Jordan and meet our guide before heading north to the traditional site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Continue to Mt. Nebo from where God showed Moses the Promised Land. Drive to Madaba to St George’s Church with its 6th century mosaic floor showing a map of the Holy Land as Christian pilgrims knew it in that period. This is called the Madaba Map. This afternoon we continue to the Rose Red city of Petra. Upon arrival we are taken to our hotel for dinner and overnight.


DAY 2 – Friday, March 02, 2018 PETRA / AMMAN

Today we will spend time in one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Start the tour of Petra; you are in the heart of the rose red Seir mountains as mentioned in the biblical Book of Genesis. This mountain range houses the Aaron Peak, which is the highest locality in Petra and the burial place of Aaron brother of Moses. A walk down through the narrow ‘Siq’ passage, being the main entrance to Petra, along 1250 meters brings you to the first monument Treasure the same as the one seen in the Indiana Jones’ movie. A walk further down through the outer ‘Siq’ encompassed by tombs and burial chambers brings you to one of the largest theaters in Jordan. This theater is carved into the sand stone mountains of Petra at the bottom of the High place of Sacrifice Mountain. Apparently some sacrificial rituals used to take place here. Now, it is time to walk up hill to the Royal Tombs. You will have a great view of the lower part of Petra with all its Roman remains. These tombs are: The UrnCorinthian- Silk- and Palace tombs. We will end our day by driving to our hotel in Amman for our final dinner and overnight.


DAY 3 – Saturday, March 03, 2018 PETRA / AIRPORT / USA

This morning we leave Petra for our drive to the airport for our flight home and cherish all that we have seen and experienced in the Holy Land and Petra.


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
  • A St. Peter’s fish 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
  • A 50-day Devotional Preparation Guide (given PDF)
  • And so much more!

What does the price of the trip include?

The price for the Israel portion of the trip is $4895. This price is all-inclusive, air from Los Angeles and includes a chartered bus ride from CEBC’s parking lot. All taxes and tips are included in the price. The optional insurance package is $240 and is HIGHLY recommended.

The price for the optional post-extension of the trip to Petra, Jordan is $1195.

SIGN UP for this trip online by clicking here

Space on this trip is limited–A $500 nonrefundable deposit is required to sign up, with the rest is due at the end of December.

Maranatha Tours has been guiding trips to the Holy Land since 1974. This is a Christian company and they do everything right! If you would like more information about this trip, you can contact them by phone at 602-788-8864. Tell them you are signing up for the February 2018 Apologetics Study Bible Tour to the Holy Land with Eric Johnson. For more information, 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

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!

Do we need passports, visas, and shots?

Passports, YES! Your passport should not expire before October 2018 or you will need to renew it. You can apply for a passport at your local post office. Do yourself a favor and obtain this before 2018! Sometimes passport deliveries are delayed and you don’t want to risk it. As far visas and shots, the answer is no to both!

Do we need the insurance policy?

I highly recommend it! This policy has several different coverages. First, it is a medical insurance policy. On two trips, I have had people trip and break or sprain their ankles. One lady’s emergency room doctor’s bill in 2017 was $1300 alone! And then the insurance paid for 4 days the tourist was not able to come with the group, resulting in a refund of over $1,000! Second, it is good for a traveler having to cancel because of a medical issue, such as the traveler getting sick or hurt in the weeks preceding the departure date–doctor’s note required. Third, it covers in cases of the trip getting cancelled because of something like a political issue, a natural disaster, etc. Fourth, it cover something such as a lost or broken suitcase. My suitcase was broken by the airline  in 2013 and I filed a claim. I received $200 for a suitcase that I purchased for $10 at a garage sale–I was paid for what the suitcase was worth. In six trips to the Holy Land, I’ve only had one suitcase lost (in 2009), and the company paid for a full replacement of the suitcase and the possessions. For $240, this is the best peace of mind students and parents could ever spend!

What about safety?

I have to be honest, I feel much more safe in Israel, even in the West Bank, than I do in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and yes, even El Cajon! Nobody on my trips has ever felt threatened. I will talk more about safety in the organizational meetings, but please know that, as far as I understand it, no American tourist has been killed or even seriously injured for decades by any terrorist activity while going on a pilgrimage to Israel. The entire time we are in Israel, safety will be our highest priority. If anything is ever happens in a particular area during our trip, we will avoid that place–the guide will be in constant communication with the authorities. We will let the students be aware of possible pickpocket activity in Jerusalem, but honestly there has only been one time in all my trips where anyone has been pickpocketed…and because the student listened to me, her wallet was safe in her buttoned pocket and the pickpocket only got five Kleenex tissues! Also understand that security is all around us, especially in sensitive areas such as Temple Mount and the Western Wall. And security is tighter in the Ben Gurion Airport than anywhere in the world. You and your children will be as safe as possible and much safer than if they were in London, Paris, or Rome. At the bottom of this page, click on “Is it safe to travel in Israel?” as delivered by CUSSD board member Thad (and Melissa) Rothrock in 2012–they will be returning to Israel in 2018–and “Em Patton and Elle McFarland…”

When Eric Johnson returns to Southern California in January 2018, what are some of the topics he might teach on in the evening sessions?

Several possible PowerPoint sessions may include an Introduction to the Holy Land (maps), the Dead Sea Scrolls, Biblical Archaeology, and Understanding Islam. The schedule will be determined at a later date.

About trip organizer Eric Johnson:

Photo to the left: Eric with daughters Janelle (now a University of Utah junior) and Carissa (CHS, class of 2010, now employed by Liberty University in Virginia and soon-to-be English teacher at a Christian school) stand on the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city of Jerusalem.

Eric Johnson graduated from Christian High (El Cajon) in 1980. In 1993, he returned to the school as a teacher, serving the Home of the Patriots for 17 years as the Bible department head, Genesis adviser, and JV softball coach. In 2009, he organized his first Holy Land adventure for 45 students, teachers, and parents. This was the first of six trips that he led. In fact, more than 200 people, including a dozen pastors, have traveled to the Holy Land with him. They have learned how the Bible speaks about real people and real places while describing historical events. Eric believes that everyone should come to the Holy Land and experience this incredible place for themselves in order to make the Bible come alive. Reading God’s Word will never be the same!

Eric is married to Terri (29 years) and has three daughters. After teaching at CHS for 17 years, he moved to Utah in order to become a full-time Christian missionary to the Mormon people. (Shadow Mountain Community Church is an official supporter of MRM’s President and Founder, Bill McKeever.) He received his Master’s of Divinity degree in 1991 and has written several books, including Answering Mormons Questions (with Bill McKeever, Kregel, 2013), Mormonism 101 (with Bill McKeever, Baker Books, 2015), and Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016). He is the co-editor of a book that will be released in 2018 titled Sharing the Good News with Mormons (Harvest House). He is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal and was a contributor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (Holman, 2010). Since 2015 he has taught at Alta Christian Seminary (for high school students), which he and a local pastor founded. The class gathers twice a week before school begins at Alta High School in Sandy, UT to study the Bible and apologetics.

Photo to the left: Eric stands in front of the Pontius Pilate inscription and the Caiphas family ossuary located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Photo to the right: Eric and daughter Hannah on the CHS/CVCS trip in 2011 after Hannah’s baptism in the Jordan River

Previous trips to Israel taken by Eric Johnson

  • 1990 (passenger on a tour led by Dr. Ronald Youngblood, my professor at Bethel Seminary San Diego and a translator of the 1978 New International Version — see photo at right)
  • 2009 (CHS): 47 students, teachers, parents, staff from Christian High School (CHS) in El Cajon, CA
  • 2011 38 students, teachers, parents, staff from three different Christian high schools (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2012 (CHS): 43 students, teachers, parents, staff from CHS (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2013 (Adult): 45 adult travelers, including several pastors (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2015 (Adult): 18 adult travelers (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2017 (Adult): 55 adult travelers, including five pastors (Feb-March 2017) (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2018 58 signed up from two different Christian schools for trip scheduled in ate March 2018 (with Joel Kramer)

Please, I encourage you to talk to anyone who has been on one of my previous trips and they will tell you, “Go!” It will be something you never regret.

Check out these videos taken on the 2017 Apologetics Bible Tour to the Holy Land! (sites on the 2018 itinerary)

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