Seeing Gods grace come full circle
Today was a bit all over the place, but none the less incredible! I think I would describe it as this; We started to travel up. Up from the north in Galilee to to the city of Jerusalem and stopping at significant places along the way.
We started at Nazareth, then to Megiddo, next to mount Carmel, and lastly at Caesarea Maritima before arriving in Jerusalem this evening. Each place held significant stories and lessons of faith. Two things stuck out today among getting to see so many beautiful and amazing places. They were the lessons of obedience at Megiddo and the question at Caesarea Maritima of "will you be a faithful witness?"
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).
At Megiddo we talked about David and Solomon and the differences in their obedience to the Lords commandments given to the kings of Israel. Megiddo is a chariot city which means that it lies in a relatively flat area and is built to house a large number of horses and chariots. In Deuteronomy 17 God gives laws concerning the kings of Israel in what they can and cannot do. Deuteronomy 17:16 says "only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses". We see Solomon filling Megiddo with war horses from Egypt while his father David, when king, did the opposite. In 1 Chronicles 18:3-4, we see David hamstring the horses making them useless for war in order to follow God's commandment. The difference here is the obedience that comes from a place of security. David found his security in Christ and, from this, trusted God and obeyed his commandments, while Solomon trusted in himself and amassed many horses to protect himself.
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.
The second lesson was from Caesarea Maritima. We looked at Acts 10 where the gospel is brought to the Gentiles for the first time. Peter is summoned by a gentile named Cornelius who has a vision where an angel of God tells Cornelius to send for Peter. Peter comes to Caesarea Maritima and has the opportunity to share the gospel with Cornelius and his family. They believe in Christ and are the first gentiles to revive the gospel, sparking its spread to all people, both Jew and gentile. The question posed was "will you be a faithful witness?" This was amazing for me because only last night did I have the opportunity to share the gospel with a Jew here in Israel. It was the beauty of seeing Gods grace come full circle. I, a gentile, got to stand where the first gentiles accepted Christ having heard from a Jew, and had the night before, as a gentile, been able to share that very gospel with a Jew.
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.
The trip only continues to become more and more incredible as we get to see the land where the stories of the Bible took place. Everyday is a sweet reminder of the gospel and it's availability to all people!
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