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Cappadocia, Ephesus, Laodicea, Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyatira, Pergamum, Izmir (Smyrna)
7 Days / 6 Nights
Arrival in Istanbul and flight to Cappadocia , transfer to your hotel.
Overnight in Cappadocia.
After breakfast, we will start our full day. Start with a gentle walk through orchards, unusual volcanic rock formations and rock-cut houses at Red & Rose Valley. Visit the old Christian Village of Cavusin, followed by lunch and then an excursion to Pigeon Valley. In the afternoon, visit Kaymakli Underground City, which hid local Christians from Arab invaders, Ortahisar Castle and Mustafapasa Greek village.
Overnight in Cappadocia. (B & L)
Pick up from your hotel to explore Devrent and Monk’s Valley, to see the extraordinary mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles or ‘fairy chimneys’. Continue on to the small village of Avanos, famous for clay pottery design. After lunch, proceed to the Goreme Open Air Museum, featuring the most impressive rock-carved churches and Byzantine frescoes in all Cappadocia. Finally enjoy a view of the moonscape valleys from the rock-perched natural citadel at Uchisar.
Overnight in Cappadocia. (B & L)
Early morning transfer to Airport for your flight to Izmir, to begin touring the Seven Churches of Revelation. Meet with your guide and drive to Ephesus, one of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”.
Ephesus and Laodicea : Ephesus, one of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”. Visit to St. John Basilica and the, Last abode of Virgin Mary at Mount Solmissos. Visit to the old Greco-Roman city of Ephesus, most important of the “Seven Churches of Asia Minor”, where St. John brought Mary in fulfillment of his pledge to Jesus to protect her, she is believed to have taken into heaven. After lunch, continue to Laodicea a Crossroads of the ancient world .
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Ephesus ; begins with the Lord’s metaphorical reminder that He is their sovereign while at the same time intimately connected to them (Revelation 2:1). He then shows His compassion by acknowledging their diligence and their devotion to obedience, their enduring perseverance and strength and the tenacity and purity of their conviction (Revelation 2:2,3). He cautions the faithful in Ephesus that their focus on doctrinal piety and their congregational catharsis has caused a crisis in their fellowship and that, among them, there is a loss of trust and benevolence. They must regain their esteem for one another and the love that the family of their church once shared or, they are warned, they will lose their position as a testimonial pillar in the greater Christian Church (Revelation 2;4,5). If they can restore their kinship, they are promised eternal blessings (Revelation 2:7).
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Laodicea ; The city’s remaining ruins leave no doubt as to the prosperity of the local population and in Revelation the angel of the church at Laodicea is described as boastful about the accumulation of wealth, full of pride, self-satisfied, deluded and, furthermore, ignorant of its spiritual indigence (Revelation 3:17). Jesus advises the Laodiceans to wholeheartedly repent, to change their self-perception, to strive for purity and to revive and deepen their faith (3:18,19). He offers them His grace and salvation should they attain spiritual triumph (3:20,21). In reference to the choice of wording used to describe the lack of obedience to God amongst the Laodiceans, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot (3:16); it is interesting to note that water was supplied to the city from a hot spring about 4 miles away through an aqueduct that you will see ruins of today along with others including walls and temples, the stadium, gymnasium and theaters.
Overnight in Pamukkale. (B & L)
In the morning, we visit the ancient city of Hierapolis home of Philip the Evangelist. Have a break at the calcium terraces of Pamukkale later on proceed to Philadelphia. Philadelphia (Alasehir), the youngest of the “Seven Churches of Revelation”, visiting the still standing remains of an early church and the city walls Lunch on the way. In the afternoon visit, ancient city and ruins of the famous church of Sardis the ancient Lydian capital. Later on the remains of the church of Thyatira than drive to Pergamon where we overnight stay.
Overnight in Pergamon. (B & L)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Pamukkale ; We know that the early spread of Christianity into Asia Minor is attributed to the apostle, Paul, and his close associates, Barnabas and Silas. Paul mentions Hierapolis specifically in his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:13). St. Phillip, the apostle, is believed by many to have been martyred here in 80 AD.
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Sardis ; The message from Revelation that was intended for Sardis is one of general condemnation for a congregation that had become lifeless in its obedience to God, despite the city’s status as a thriving business center. They are cautioned to wake up, to become aware of their shortcomings, to nourish what seeds remain within themselves, and to emulate those among them who are watchful and pure, that their community may enliven and grow out of its stale spiritual condition. Those who overcome the crisis of faith will be rewarded with recognition and salvation. Revelation (3:1-5)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Philadelphia ; Philadelphia ( Alasehir )is known as the good church, abiding, loyal and steadfast in the face of persecution (Revelation 3: 8-10). He offers the community of believers an open door and tells them that if they continue forth in their faithfulness they will become pillars in the Temple of God (Revelation 3: 8,12). Here, it is interesting to note that the city had suffered a devastating earthquake in 17 AD and the residents may have been in need of emotional security and strong foundations.
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Thyatira ; ; Philadelphia ( Akhisar ) The message that St. John received and conveyed to the church at Thyatira begins with dramatic imagery to convey the Lord’s authority as well as His indignation at this behavior; and, more significantly, at the tolerance of this behavior and the tolerance of Jezebel, the false prophetess who had enticed and led the faithful astray despite their good works, service and forbearance (Revelation 2:18-20). The congregation is castigated by the Lord and warned that unless those who have succumbed to this impiety reform and repent wholeheartedly, they will suffer great pains to come in their just desserts (vv. 21-23). They are implored and encouraged to persevere, to adhere to whatever faithfulness remains within them and to whatever fellowship remains among them. Their endurance will be rewarded in the promise of ascendancy and of unity with Christ (Revelation 2:25-28). It is interesting to note that by the beginning of the 3rd century, Thyatira had flourished into a solid Christian community and sent its bishops to attend the great ecumenical councils in Nicea and in Ephesus.
Departure after breakfast for Pergamon (Bergama), the place where, wrote St. John to the church of Pergamon, “Satan´s throne is sited. Visit the Church of Pergamon, the red-court, Acropolis, after lunch; we drive to Smyrna (Izmir), recipient of a letter from St Paul praising the early believers for their faithfulness. Visiting to St. Polycarp Church and a short tour of the city at the end of the seven churches tour, transfer to Izmir Hotel. (B & L).
Overnight in Izmir. (B & L)
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Pergamon ; Though Pergamon was a major center of pagan worship and not conducive to Christian life, the church there was well established by the end of the 1st century. It was severely challenged, however, by the activities of the pagan community and this struggle is what lies at the heart of the Book of Revelation’s message to the church at Pergamon. The message is similar to the one sent to Thyatira. The Lord commends the congregation for its obedience, devotion and faithfulness in the face of the persecution, flagrant heathenism and impiety that was being practiced all around them in this city of temple worship and ritual sacrifice (Revelation 2:13). They are then condemned for loosely interpreting doctrine, compromising their morals and allowing themselves to be mislead in order to satisfy their carnal desires and their worldly aspirations (Revelation 2:14,15). If they do not recognize the error of their ways and right themselves, they will face perdition; if they do prevail, they will receive from the Lord sustenance, blessings and more of the grace that is already working within them to allow them the capacity for faith (Revelation 2:16,17).
*** Revelation’s message to the Christians of Smyrna ; The first reference to early Christianity in Smyrna is from the Book of Revelation. As with the other six churches of Revelation, the early Christian congregation in Smyrna was challenged by the longer established system of pagan worship and they faced persecution by the local Jewish population, as well. The Lord’s message commends the Christians of Smyrna for their devotion in the face of the severe pressure and suffering that was brought on their church by the local Jewish opposition and also acknowledges their spiritual wealth in the face of abject material poverty (Revelation 2:9). He appeals to them to have no fear, to remain unwaveringly courageous that their conviction be undeterred by future trials that may even include martyrdom (Revelation 2:10). If they are able to remain steadfast in their witness for God, they are promised a ‘crown of life’ or exaltation and eternal blessings after this earthly life (Revelation 2:10,11). The language used is significant in that the monuments of ancient Smyrna ringed Mount Pagos much like a crown.
After breakfast, flight to Istanbul. The end of the services.