Friday, February 10, 2012

Reflections on My Trip to Israel - Day 9 of 10

From Galilee we drove to Capernaum, a place that Jesus visited often and saw the site of an ancient synagogue, and the site of the house of Peter. Then we visited the Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount, and drove up the Golan Heights to Caesarea Phillipi.

There is something about the Holy Land that does a work on you, yet one visit is like the seeing the tip of an iceberg. There is s-o-o-o much to see and do. I hope you will make the trip soon.

It was a full day of activities and we were more than happy to be back at our hotel and look forward to dinner, another teaching by Pastor Peter Youngren, and a well-deserved rest for the night. Next day, we visited Megiddo and Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elijah defeated the worshippers of Baal.

At last, our visit to Megiddo, one of King Solomon’s walled cities in ancient Israel. This place holds a history of ancient palaces, fortresses and temples, and history tells us that King Solomon built a palace there.

Megiddo (which is a Hebrew word) is mentioned in the Book of Revelation as Armageddon (which is Greek) and is said to be the site where the final battle of good and evil will be fought. I collected several small stones on Megiddo to remind me of that final battle, and have placed them in my collection of souvenirs from Israel.

Tradition tells us that on Megiddo there are remains of at least 20 ancient cities built one on top of the other. This tells us that much destruction and rebuilding happened here on Megiddo. You know, when we really stop to think of history, there has been a lot going on in the world from the beginning of time till now! We seem to get caught up with just a small portion of time and it takes a jolt to remind us that the world has been busy for thousands of years, and this becomes more real to us as we visit ancient lands.

From Megiddo we continued to Haifa and ascended Mount Carmel, the place where Elijah defied the 450 prophets of Baal. And in memory of that outstanding bit of biblical history there is an impressive statue of the prophet Elijah with his sword raised to heaven in triumph over one of the fallen Baal prophets.

However, I learned much more about Mount Carmel. Imagine my surprise when our tour guide told us that the name “Mount Carmel” refers not only to one mountain, which was the one we stood upon (the most important one to visitors in the country), but a range of mountains. In my simple thinking I always thought the name “Mount Carmel” referred to just one mountain. And herein lies the beauty of actually going to historic places and seeing them for oneself.

At the top of the mountain where there is the statue of Elijah, there is also a lot of activity: souvenir shops, chapels and a panoramic view of surrounding areas. I tell you the view from that high place is something else. It is simply beautiful.

Since ancient times Mount Carmel has been known as a sacred place. For example, legends tell that Pythagoras, sixth century Greek mathematician visited Mount Carmel and spoke of it as “the most holy of mountains…” I felt I could have stayed there for hours on Mount Carmel, drinking in its breathtaking beauty, cool breezes and sacred legends which are many.

The name “Mount Carmel” always held an attraction for me and for this same reason I named my ministry after it, e.g. New Vision Ministry of Mount Carmel, in remembrance of Elijah’s great defeat of the 450 prophets of Baal. I have always been enthused by that biblical account. In it, Elijah affirmed his allegiance to Yahweh, God of Israel who rained His fire from heaven upon his altar of sacrifice though much water was poured upon it. Talk about drama and victory! Read all about it at 1 Kings 18:20-46.

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