Heading up to Jerusalem
We have begun our ascent to Jerusalem from the Sea of Galilee!! While we actually headed south, scripture always tells us of people going up to Jerusalem.
We began our journey by stopping at one last place by the Sea of Galilee where Jesus cast out the legion of demons from the demoniac. We all learned about some great historical and cultural details related to that story, but you will have to ask us about them when we get home! We also had a great conversation about those outcast in our world and how we respond to them, serve them, and bring them to Jesus.
From there, we went to Mount Carmel. It overlooks Meggido and is the place where Elijah called down fire from God to show the world that Yahweh is the one true God. It was beautiful, and we all were challenged to ask ourselves if we had the fire of Elijah for our God. Do we have that same passion and zeal for God? That boldness to stand and claim His greatness and His power no matter who we face?
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 next stop was Caesarea. Wow! Herod the Great really made some incredible accomplishments with that place. Though, it was certainly at the expense of others' lives (as most of his efforts were). We began by looking into the Crusader fortress there and then made our way to the buildings of Herod the Great. First, we saw a HUGE man-made harbor that was a feat in itself. Then we saw the stadium built for horse-racing. It held up to 300,000 people in it! In this building, we read Hebrews 12:1-2 and talked about how the writer of Hebrews was calling on imagery from a stadium like this one when he says that we were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Finally, we visited Herod's palace where he had a freshwater pool (practically in the Mediterranean no less), a prison, and several other rooms. We learned that this place, stadium and all, was covered in white marble with gold flakes in it so that when the sun sets on it, it can be seen for miles and miles. However, the funny thing is that now, over 2,000 years later, we can still collect stones of this marble that wash up from the sea. This is a great reminder that while it may have been glorious at a time, the glory of this possession has faded away into stones that no one (but us!) cares about. We finished up Caesarea by standing in the room where Paul most likely appealed to Caesar.
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.
We wrapped up the day by looking over the city of Jerusalem and getting ourselves aquatinted with the City of Domes. Scott helped us identify the Quarters of the Old City, find the Mount of Olives, and get a good general foundation of where we are.
Tomorrow we begin our journey in Jerusalem!
By Brian Gunter
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