Clash of cultures
Today we said goodbye to the Sea of Galilee proceeding south along the Jordan River. We viewed the country of Jordan to the east as we progressed toward Bet She'an in the upper Rift Valley fault line. There we discovered the city of Schytopolis, archeologically unearthed displaying the magnificence of it's columns, structures, mosaics, bathhouses, and tributes to Greek gods. Visually the city was another ‘wow' - but Ronan appropriately pointed out the obvious clash of cultures and belief systems and re-emphasized the trap that compromising God's will sets. Before departing, we spent precious time together with our families in solemn, earnest prayer to defeat compromise and promote our desire to more deliberately spread the gospel.
Located 17 miles (27 km) south of the Sea of Galilee, Beth Shean is situated at the strategic junction of the Harod and Jordan Valleys. The fertility of the land and the abundance of water led the Jewish sages to say, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.” It is no surprise then that the site has been almost continuously settled from the Chalcolithic period to the present.
Onward through the Jezreel Valley and to Megiddo. Megiddo was a highly defensible position geographically and central to trade and commerce. Historically, those who controlled Megiddo controlled Israel and by controlling Israel, 'controlled the world'. Thus, we learned of 26 layers of civilization in Megiddo with significant battles including Egyptians in 609 BC and Allied troupes and the Ottoman Army in 1918. Bryan taught from Rev 16:13-18 as we contemplated Armageddon, the final battle of our great God Almighty. Faith lesson: It's not winning or loosing the battle but our desire that none should perish - we must actively share God's truth.
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.
Next it was on to Mt Carmel, actually a range of mountains. The Mt Carmel range is high enough to block the straight-line view of the Mediterranean Sea from the Jezreel Valley. On Mt Carmel, Hickman shared with us his lesson from I Kings 18:18 - Elijah vs Ahab. Another lesson in compromise. It's not man's way, (Ahab) but God's way (Elijah) - choose whom you will follow. God works in ways we cannot see and blesses us when we serve Him and honor His will and commands.
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 before overnighting in Jerusalem was Caesarea, located on the Mediterranean. It was built by Herod the Great in 22 BC as a tribute to Rome. The port was to promote trade as the largest, busiest port in the world trading olive oil, wheat, salt, dates, perfume, alabaster, and spices. It was an enormous center of business, culture, and sports touching most civilized parts of the world.
In closing: Ronan challenged us when we leave Israel, to go home and make disciples.
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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