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2021 Apologetics Study Bible Tour to the Holy Land–MRM

February 22-March 6, 2021

Photo: Our scheduled guide Andre (right) with scheduled bus driver Azam (left) and Eric Johnson in front of the hill where Cave 1 (Dead Seas Scrolls) near Qumran.

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?

Join MRM’s Eric Johnson along with MRM founder Bill McKeever and pastors from several different Utah churches and some from their congregtions for a trip that will forever change the way you read your Bible!

Join us for so many sites that you have read about in the Bible, including:

  • Sea of Galilee boat ride
  • Baptisms in Jordan River
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of the Western Wall
  • Communion service at Garden Tomb
  • Masada
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • Climbing up to Cave 1 where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered
  • Drinking water out of Jacob’s well
  • Following a biblical archaeologist for 3 days
  • And much more!

For the hard brochure, click here.

To see the insurance policy, click Allianz Travel Insurance.

To register for the trip with a $500 deposit (per person), click here.

(Use “Dan” as our rep, Utah Israel 2021 as the name of our trip, and Feb. 22, 2021 as the date of the trip)

Sign up for this trip with a $500 deposit per person by November 30, 2019 and receive:

  • $100 Early Bird Discount
  • A complimentary copy of The Holy Land for Christian Travelers (Eric’s favorite book to give to pilgrims)
  • A complimentary copy of biblical archaeologist Joel Kramer’s DVD Jericho Unearthed (Joel will guide us for three days of our trip)

If you end up having to cancel by Thanksgiving 2020, you will receive $375 of your deposit back.

We are just taking one bus of travelers, so there is limited room.

And finally, if we travel with 40 or more travelers (excluding Eric Johnson), every paying passenger will receive $100 cash back on the first day of the trip!

To sign up online for this trip, please click here. Final payment due December 2020, and credit card is accepted for all payments!


DAY 1 – Monday, February 22, 2021: Flight from Los Angeles

Today we will meet in Los Angles for our connecting flights to Israel via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.

DAY 2 – Tuesday, February 23, 2021: Flight to Tel Aviv

We transfer to our flight to Tel Aviv where we will be met by our guide Andre Shama, who will be with us for the time we are in the Holy Land. Board our bus and travel to the city of Netanya on the Mediterranean to our hotel where we check in for overnight.

HOTEL: Leonardo Plaza in Netanya

DAY 3 – Wednesday, February 24, 2021: CAESAREA / MEGIDDO / NAZARETH / BET SHEAN / TIBERIAS

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 Megiddo to visit the excavations that unearthed 20 different civilizations. It is better known as “Armageddon” according to the book of 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 converse in their first century way. It is quite an experience! Our final destination is the ancient city of Bet Shean, a site where Saul’s body 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 place to explore! We make our way to our hotel for the first of our three-night stay.

Hotel: Sea of Galilee Hotel 1 of 3


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.

See a video on Magdala

Hotel: Sea of Galilee Hotel 2 of 3


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. Next we continue to Capernaum where the home of Peter 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. We will also 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.

Hotel: Sea of Galilee Hotel 3 of 3

DAY 6 – Saturday, February 27, 2021: EIN GEDI / MASADA / CAMEL RIDE / DEAD SEA

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). After a few hours of driving, we visit Ein Gedi and take in a little bit of Paradise in the desert as we observe the wildlife and hike to a wonderful waterfall. In one of these caves above the waterfall area, David found Solomon and cut off part of his robe. We then 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 a Bedouin camp to ride camels in the desert—how many of your friends have done that? Finally, we go 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 David Resort hotel—just sit back and let the bubbles relax you.

See a video on Masada

Hotel: Leonardo Hotel Dead Sea


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 who 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 center place for so much that took place in the Bible. We will go to the Israel Museum and see some ancient artifacts, including pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as a model city of the ancient city of Jerusalem that is a football field in size! We will also have a chance to see such important artifacts as the Pontius Pilate inscription, the Tel Dan stone (with proof of David), and the ossuary of Caiaphas.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 1 of 6


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 stop by 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! Next we will visit the Southern (Teaching) Steps—Jesus was certainly here, right outside the temple itself. After lunch, we will head over to the Valley of Elah to see the location where David and Goliath fought their famous battle. We will stand on a hill called Azekah to see the exact location. If there is time, we will stop by Lachish, which was the last city destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. A ramp up to the city wall is still here 2700 years later!

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 2 of 6


We begin the day by heading to the Mount of Olives where we can have a panorama of the ancient city. Then we will head down to the Garden of Gethsemane. There are olive trees in this garden with root systems going back to the time of Jesus! This is where Jesus prayed before getting betrayed and arrested. We then head over to the Garden Tomb! A private communion service led by our pastors 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 or how about some shopping? Another option is to walk on the walls (ramparts) from the Christian Quarter to the Muslim Quarter (extra cost of $5 would apply). Or take a taxi to view the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Tonight archaeologist Joel Kramer will address our group after dinner at the hotel. Joel will take over the guiding duties for the next three days.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 3 of 6

DAY 10 – Wednesday, March 3, 2021: BETHEL / AI / JACOB’S WELL / SHECHEM / SAMARIA / JERUSALEM

(With Joel Kramer) Today we will have a chance to see sites that many tourists will never experience, with archaeologist Joel Kramer leading us. First, we begin at Ai, the city conquered by Joshua (see Joshua 6). Next to Ai is Bethel, where Abraham pitched his tent. Very few tourists have ever been to these sites. Next we go to 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 head over to Shechem, a place so very important in the Bible located between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. Finally, we head over to Samaria to see the Israelite ruins of the capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 4 of 6

DAY 11 – Thursday, March 4, 2021:  MAMRE / HEBRON / QUMRAN / JERICHO / JERUSALEM

We head out for a day of traveling as we go to Mamre, a cultic site where Abraham was and there is great history, Next we move over to Hebron, which  contains the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a very important place where the patriarchs and their wives were buried. Today a synagogue and mosque are located at this site. We move over to Qumran for lunch, 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.) Finally, we end in 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.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 5 of 6


(With Joel Kramer) We begin today’s journey by having Joel take us to the place where Pilate judged Jesus called the Praetorium, just outside Herod’s palace. Then we will take the less traditional (but more accurate) walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—this is the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. Although there is plenty of tradition that goes beyond the biblical facts, Joel will help us cut through the incense so we can understand the historical significance of this site. We then head to the Church of the Apostles, marking the place where Pentecost took place. After lunch, we head across the valley to the City of David where we will see where David’s palace was. Then we have a chance to hike through Hezekiah’s Tunnel and slosh 1749 feet from one end to the other. This tunnel was dug by Hezekiah’s men in the 8th century BC. We will also see the Pool of Siloam talked about in the Bible, as part of it has recently been uncovered! 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.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem 6 of 6

DAY 13 – Saturday, March 6, 2021 JERUSALEM / HOME

We transfer to the airport for our flight home to Los Angeles 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.

Cost of the Trip: $5095 (all inclusive from LA)

What does the trip cost include?IMG

  • Air transportation/transfers from LAX
  • Full-time guide / bus / driver (Andre Shama and Azam, my favorite guide and bus driver)
  • All 4-star hotels
  • All admission fees
  • 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner buffets
  • 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 months preceding the trip from Eric Johnson, including teaching, tips, video links, etc
  • Teaching sessions to be held in January 2021 in the Salt Lake City, area–all travelers are invited to attend, along with prizes to be given away
  • A 50-day Devotional Preparation Guide (given PDF) at Christmas 2020

And so much more!

Not included: Optional travel insurance policy (7.25% or 9.8% of tour cost), transportation to LAX, most lunches, snacks/drinks,and souvenirs

Actual comments from previous travelers

“Whoever goes with Eric Johnson is happy and satisfied because he cares about his passengers”–Andre Shama, Tour Guide in Israel

“Thanks for a prize-winning tour!”–Duane Tubbs, La Mesa, CA (2019 trip)

“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!”

“Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for such a life changing trip. I am so grateful for your time and planning for the last 10 days. This Easter has new meaning to me now that I have walked where Jesus walked, prayed where He prayed and saw where He was sacrificed. What a gift it is to visit the Holy Land and get to fellowship with such an amazing group of people.” K.B., traveler on the March 2018 trip

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

2018 Video Testimonies:

“There are no words to express the appreciation we have for this most outstanding trip-of-a-lifetime. Our hearts and minds are overflowing with new, deeper knowledge of the land and history of our precious Savior and Father. All glory to Him!!” –Shelly Anderson

“As I reflect back on our amazing trip and continue to try to adjust for the time zone change (smile), I just wanted to drop you a note and thank-you for the incredible journey you led. As people have been asking me about our time in Israel I am finding that it is so very difficult to put into words the dramatic impact that it had strengthening my faith and opening my understanding of God’s Word.”–Pat McCarty

“Just want to say one more time how grateful I am for your leadership of such a life-changing trip.  There is not a single person that didn’t have an incredible time, and many people’s faith grew significantly because of the experience. . . . You really did a great job at managing the details and all you did to make the trip smooth and enjoyable was noticed and appreciated.”–Chris Rutz

Check out these videos from Ritch Sandford


About archaeologist Joel Kramer

DSC04326Joel 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 order 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 in Israel and has worked hands-on with top-notch archaeologists, including Shimon Gibson. In late 2016, Joel and his family moved to Jordan but he is willing to come guide one of my annual trips for three days, as he will take us to such sites as Jericho, Jacob’s Well, and Shiloh. He is somebody you ought to miss!

Questions you may have

Is there unlimited room for sign ups?

We are taking just one bus and will not go to a second bus, so there is limited room.

Which airport will we fly out of?

The flight from Los Angeles is included in the price of the trip. If you decide you would like to do your own air travel arrangements, there is an “Land Only” price. Ask Pilgrim Tours.

What if I am coming by myself? Could I get a roommate?

The cost of the trip is based on double occupancy. We have a number of single people considering this trip. You have 2 options:

  1. You can request a single room, which will cost $1050 extra
  2. You can tell us who your roommate (also signing up) will be
  3. You can request a roommate. (We will do our best to pair you up with someone of the same sex who is close (as possible) to your age.

Will there be a lot of walking?

Yes, there will be land to cover. If you go to Disneyland, you know that you will easily put in 5 miles the day you’re there. In Israel, it’s similar. To see the sites, the buses will drop us off and we will need to walk to get to the site(s). On the average day, we will cover between 3 to 6 miles, although not all at once. Generally we will get on and off the bus an average of 5-6 times each day. If you get tired, you are free to stay with the bus, as our driver stays with the bus when we are gone. Our day typically begins at 6 a.m. wake-up call, 6:30 breakfast, and 7:30 drive away from the hotel. We usually try to get back to the hotel by 5:30 p.m. Dinner is usually at 6:30 p.m.

Will there be education in the months before we go?

Yes, Eric Johnson will be writing regular emails (more frequent in the fall/winter of 2020) to educate the passengers, provide video links, give announcements, etc. In addition, he is planning to offer several classes in the Salt Lake City (UT) area in the month of January 2021.

Do we need passports, visas, and shots?

Passports, YES! Your passport should not expire before October 2021 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 well in advance! 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?

There are two different policies from which you can choose. One is a standard policy, covering missed connections, medical issues, and lost luggage. The other allows you to cancel for any reason and receive 80% of your money back. You need to decide for yourself, but I definitely recommend the basic insurance for peace of mind.

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, and Washington DC! Nobody on my trips has ever felt threatened at any site we have visited. 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. Also understand that governmental 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 will be as safe as possible and much safer than if they were in London, Paris, or Rome. So, in conclusion, I believe this is a very safe trip, or I would not have traveled here, without incident, nine times since 2009 and have brought every member of my family!

About trip organizer Eric Johnson

Photo to the left: Eric with daughters Janelle (a middle school public school teacher in Utah) and Carissa (third-year Christian high school English teacher in northern California) stand on the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city of Jerusalem during their trip in 2009.

Eric Johnson has taken more than 350 people, including more than two dozen pastors, to Israel since 2009! Those who have come with him have had the chance to learn 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 (30 years) and has three daughters. After teaching Bible classes in Southern California for 17 years (as well as more than a decade teaching English as an adjunct professor at Grossmont Community College), he and his wife moved to Utah in order to become a full-time Christian missionary to the Mormon people. 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), Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016) and Sharing the Good News with Mormons (Kregel, 2018, co-edited with Sean McDowell). He is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal and was a contributor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (Holman, 2010).

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 a trip 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 in April
  • 2011 38 students, teachers, parents, staff from three different Christian high schools in March (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2012 (CHS): 43 students, teachers, parents, staff from CHS in March (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2013 (Adult): 45 adult travelers, including several pastors in February (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2015 (Adult): 18 adult travelers in February (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2017 (Adult): 55 adult travelers in February, including five pastors (Feb-March 2017) (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2018 (Adult): 27 adult travelers in February, including members from Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Diego (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2018 (CHS/CVCS) 57 students and parents from two different Christian schools  in March (with Joel Kramer)
  • 2019 (Covenant Retirement Communities): 41 adult travelers in Feb/March from the western United States
  • 2020 (Church group): 51 adult travelers are scheduled to go with Eric from Utah and Southern California
  • 2020 (Adults): 22 adult travelers from Utah and Southern California are scheduled to go with Eric
  • 5 trips planned for 2021!

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


To see a video on the issue of safety, click here.

See a video on Israel by clicking here.


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