The Sea Of Galilee, Down But Never Out

Sea of Galilee waves, tb040406047
Sea Of Galilee Storm Waves (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Storms Come And Go

The Sea of Galilee is nestled below the Golan Heights, partially surrounded with hills and valleys, making it vulnerable to sudden storms. With little warning, winds can whip through these ravines in such a way that they violently rile the waters of the Galilee, threatening anyone unlucky enough to be on its surface. This explains why the disciples, seasoned fishermen who made their living on the Sea of Galilee, were caught in that potentially life-threatening storm the night Jesus walked on the water and encouraged Peter to walk the short distance we all marvel about.

Island in the Sea of Galilee
Island in the Sea of Galilee

Walk On The Water

As it happens, today you could also walk on water at the Sea of Galilee…What?? Yes, due to the on-going drought in the Holy Land, the water level is SO low, an easily accessed island has appeared in the southern end of the Kinneret, giving people the illusion of walking on the Biblical lake. In fact, according to sources, you don’t even have to know how to swim or wear a bathing suit as you walk to the newly created island.

Need A Good Rain

Even though future weather forecasts for the Holy Land include better-than-average rainfall for the coming winter, according to many, that will not be enough to offset five years of island-making drought. While the prediction is welcomed as a beginning to the end of the rain deficiency, the long drought has caused severe deficits in Israel’s freshwater streams, lakes and aquifers. A situation that will require steady rain over several winters to rectify.

Sea of Galilee water level sign, tb052808512
Sea of Galilee Water Gauge (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

The “Black Line”

One of the hardest hit freshwater lakes is the Sea of Galilee. Today the lake is at its lowest level in 100 years…close to hitting the “black line,” a dangerous level that can create irreversible ecological problems. A plan is in the works to top off the Sea of Galilee with desalinated water from two new desalination plants, adding to the five on the Mediterranean coast that already supply water to the region. According to experts, by 2022, 100 million cubic meters of water will annually rush into the lake. So that even in drought conditions, the lake, aquifers and streams that feed the Kinneret will be refreshed.

Sea of Galilee and Tiberias at dusk, tb032805897
Sea Of Galilee and Tiberias At Dusk (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Using Desalinated Water

The only good news about the lake’s dire circumstances is that today, the Sea of Galilee’s water is not needed for Israeli fresh water uses. Prior to 2005, water was pumped out of the lake into the national water system for all of Israel’s water use, personal and agricultural. Today, the five coastal desalination plants, with the first one put into use in 2005, supply 80% of the country’s water and the Israelis are masters at recycling waste water for agricultural needs.

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Boat On The Sea of Galilee (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Biblical Droughts

It seems that in Biblical and modern Israel, droughts regularly come and go. Elijah was faced with the prospect of telling Ahab that his evilness was the primary cause of a drought…you can bet that didn’t endear him to Ahab or Jezebel! But Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal brought about the end of that particular three year problem. Even during David‘s time on the throne of Israel, God told him that a drought caused famine was in the future because Saul had broken the treaty with the Gibeonites….great! David has to figure out how to deal with something that his predecessor had caused…apparently nothing has changed in politics!

Clouds over Sea of Galilee, tb102904607
Clouds Over The Sea Of Galilee (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Israeli Technology Steps In

Today, Israeli technology deals with the reality of drought in a land situated in the heart of the Middle East, one of the driest regions on earth. Israel invested heavily in desalination technology and professed to have solved the problem of little rainfall by tapping into the abundant waters of the Mediterranean Sea. But now, a five-year drought is even challenging that strategy as the country’s most important bodies of water shrink.

Sea Of Galilee and Golan Heights at Sunrise

What A Difference Time Makes

In 2013, the Sea of Galilee was two meters from its fullest capacity. That May, Rich and I stood on its shores in Tiberias, marveling at how high the water was as it lapped against the Gai Beach’s boardwalk. Then on a later tour, in December 2017, we stood at the same spot and wondered how low it could possibly go! According to all sources, much lower!

Sea of Galilee storm with rainbow, tb111103790
Sea of Galilee Storm and Rainbow (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

Praying For Rain

Remarkably, on the last Thursday in December 2017, thousands gathered at the Western Wall to pray for rain. On Monday, January 1st, 2018, the skies opened and Israel’s Water Authority announced that approximately 1 inch of rain fell in the Golan and Upper Galilee regions, which includes the 100+ square miles of the Sea of Galilee. The downpour raised the level of the lake by one centimeter or .4 inches (that is a lot of gallons of water poured onto the lake!).  Still to come was the spring thaw of six inches of snow that also fell on the upper slopes of Mount Hermon which feeds the Dan River, a major tributary of the Jordan River which flows into the Sea of Galilee….God is always in the business of answered prayers.

God loves it when people gather to pray. He loves it when people pray big bold prayers, step out of their comfort zones and proverbially walk on water. Whether it’s to pray for rain, for healing, for faith, for someone’s salvation or a myriad of other requests…don’t be afraid. Jesus risked everything for us, so we can pray for anything and be assured that if it is within His will…the prayer will be answered in His time.
Come walk on water in the Holy Land, find a faith-based tour and change your life.

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