East to West
We are saddened as we take leave of Kibbutz Ein Gev, our home for the last four days on the Sea of Galilee. We were continually reminded by the thought that “Jesus was here!”. It is a comfort to know that Jesus lives in each of us.
Our trip to Nazareth was slowed due to an accident on the journey. “Ronen, our famous tour guide” used the time to teach us about the meaning of names. One of them is the difference between Yeshua and Joshua.
Situated inside a bowl atop the Nazareth ridge north of the Jezreel valley, Nazareth was a relatively isolated village in the time of Jesus with a population less than two hundred. Today Nazareth is home to more than 60,000 Israeli Arabs; Upper Nazareth is home to thousands more Jewish residents.
Joshua has one more letter than does Yeshua. This is the God letter. Yeshua does not need the God letter, because He is God. Note that Ronen did not spell out the word God. God is not spoken or written out of reverence. We can learn….
Our trip to Nazareth was an awesome experience. In Luke 4, we read that Jesus taught in the temple at Nazareth concerning the coming of the Messiah. After he read, he sat down and said “Today this scripture is fulfilled”. He went on to say that the gospel would be given to all people. This enraged the town folk, and they took him to a high mountain, threatening to push him over the cliff. We stood at the edge of a cliff… and imagined Jesus walking through the crowd to safety. As we leave this place, can we commit our selves to be a part of the spreading of the Gospel to all people.
God gave special directions to the kings of Israel. They were not to have many horses, many wives and not accumulate silver and gold. As we visited Megiddo, it became evident that Solomon and Ahab strayed away from these commands. The kings on Mount Megiddo had manyhorses and chariots and thus need to protect their supply of water. Many times when we accumulate much, we tend to stray away from dependence on our God.
From the earliest times (EB) to the earliest historical records of the area (Thutmose III) to the future (Revelation 16), Megiddo assumes a prominent role. This is largely owing to its strategic location astride the Megiddo Pass (Wadi Ara) and inside the busy Jezreel Valley.
Our next stop was on the lush, hills of Mount Carmel (God’s Vineyard) Elijah called on the name of the Lord to accept his sacrifice and God answered in a mighty way. Elijah warned the people on the mountain to return as the rains were coming. Elijah in the spirit, ran ahead of the chariots to the valley. He went from a mountain top experience to fear and despondency. Is our trip to Israel our mountain top experience? Our challenge is rely on the Lord to give us strength and endurance to spread the gospel.
Biblically, Mt. Carmel is referenced most often as a symbol of beauty and fertility. To be given the “splendor of Carmel” was to be blessed indeed (Isa 35:2). Solomon praised his beloved: “your head crowns you like Mount Carmel” (Song 7:5). But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4).
Our last stop on our way to Jerusalem was Caesarea. It was an exhilarating experience as the temperatures dropped and the Mediterranean Sea winds blew. Caesarea was a dream and reality of King Herod. It was a magnificent harbor city, however human and natural forces changed it so that today we are learning from its ruins. We can all take a lesson from the history of this city is that the only constant thing in life is change. The challenge is to be able to continue to spread the gospel in light of these changes.
Marcia and William Ziegler
The city and harbor were built under Herod the Great during c. 22–10 BC near the site of a former Phoenician naval station known as Stratonos pyrgos (Στράτωνος πύργος). It later became the provincial capital of Roman Judea, Roman Syria Palaestina and Byzantine Palaestina Prima provinces. The city was populated throughout the 1st to 6th centuries CE and became an important early center of Christianity during the Byzantine period, but was mostly abandoned following the Muslim conquest of 640. It was re-fortified by the Crusaders, and finally slighted by the Mamluks in 1265.
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