Shall We Gather At The River?
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” Matthew 3:13. Today we checked out of our rooms at the Nof Ginosar Kibbutz Hotel at the Sea of Galilee and headed to the Jordan River for baptisms. I’m not sure what I expected the Jordan River to be like but it was clear and clean, neither of which I was expecting. We had two in our group that desired to be baptized. Pastor Bob lead us in “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and Pastor Tim baptized Pat and Bob. Baptism is a beautiful sign of what Jesus has done for us.
By mid-morning we were off to Tel Megiddo. This is where the first recorded battle took place in history and where the last battle will take place (Armageddon). 26 cities were built on top of each other at this site. Miriam, our guide explained that there was a natural spring there and one group would overtake the current one occupying this city. They would destroy the buildings and build on top of them. Layer after layer of cities can be seen on site.
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.
Jim Showers shared from Revelation 16. He said that many people believe that the only reason Evangelicals support Israel is because they want them to come back to the land of Israel because this will hasten Jesus’ return. He explained how Armageddon is not about judgment on the Jewish people but about Jesus Christ coming back for what is His. It was very easy to see why this site is where the final battle on earth is going to take place. You are at a high point and can see down hundreds of miles each way.
You can see the city of Nazareth from Tel Megiddo. I was thinking about Jesus as a boy looking off into the distance and seeing Tel Megiddo. Did He think about it a lot when He was growing up? Did He look across the valley and see where the final battle on the earth would take place and He as the leader?
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.
We ended the tour of Tel Megiddo by walking down into the ancient water source made by the Israelites. 180 steps down into the earth we went. Someone carved out the tunnel to hold the water. We then walked up 150 steps to get back to the surface. One major observation, it was cold down there and I liked it! The sun was very hot today.
Lunch was at a shop on the way to Mount Carmel. Falafel seemed to be everyone’s favorite. (Well, there was only the choice of chicken or falafel!) It was then off to Mount Carmel. Martin Fern read the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Martin pointed out how Elijah was a feisty prophet and poked fun of the prophets. Then he allowed God to show off by setting fire to a soaked alter.
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).
It was then off to Jerusalem! Driving to the city we passed the wall at the West Bank. Miriam explained that the wall went up when there was excessive violence towards the Jewish people. The violence stopped almost immediately when the wall went up. I truly believe the Jewish people would take the wall down if peace was promised. They want peace so badly.
We checked into our hotel and some went up to the penthouse to take pictures of the panoramic view. After dinner a few went out exploring. We are staying in the suburbs of Jerusalem, which is very quiet.
Tomorrow we leave bright and early at 7:40 for the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. We’ve got another full day and I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be overwhelmed with!
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