The pinnacle of all existence
Our day began very early this morning. Wake up call was at 4:30 am due to a bicycling race around Galilee. The roads were going to be closed by 6:00 AM so we headed away from the sea of Galilee for another amazing day.
Our first stop was to Mt. Precipice. This mountain stands between two major sites. Behind us was the city of Nazareth, the city where Jesus was raised. In front of us was the Jezreel Valley. Jezreel means "Where God Plants His Seed." We opened up our Bibles where Ross Strader led us through a study of Luke 4:14-30. Jesus has previously been presented at the temple, baptized, and been tempted in the Garden. It is from Nazareth that he stands in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61, hands it back to the attendant and says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." It is from here that Jesus then began His public ministry around the sea of Galilee. It is from here that God plants His seed of redemption.
From there we journeyed to Tel Jezreel. We read about Tel Jezreel in 1 Kings 21 with the story of Naboth's vineyard. You see God preserving and maintaining His plan by turning to 2 King 9:17-21 that even after two generations, it is still referred to as the field of Naboth the Jezreelite.
The spacious Jezreel Valley spreads out to the north and east from Mount Carmel, providing convenient passage for international travelers in ancient times. The fertile alluvial soil makes this the country’s breadbasket as well. The Bible speaks of the gathering of armies in this valley at the place of Armageddon.
Our third stop was one that many people have probably heard of. We traveled to Harod. Today Harod is a beautify National Park and as we arrived around 2,000 Israeli Girl and Boy Scouts were packing up after an evening of camping. Pastor Ross and Eric led us through a study of Judges 6-8 where we read about Gideon. Every year at harvest time the Midianites and Amalekites would come to raid and plunder. We see Gideon threshing his wheat in a wine press and hiding in fear. It is from here that God calls Gideon a "Mighty man of valor" even though he is hiding. Over and over again we have been seeing the call to live by faith and not by sight.
Our fourth and final stop for the day was very surprising. We step off the bus and Ronen, our guide, leads us down a dirt road and we venture to the top of a mountain that has housed 19 civilizations. These mountains are referred to as "tels." We read about this mountain in 1 Samuel 31. In the distance, you can see Mount Gilboa where the Philistines overtake and kill King Saul. We then read that after Saul's death, he and his sons are attached to the walls of Beth-Shan. Most likely, we are now standing on top of that city. Over and over again we are reminded of our calling to walk by faith, not by sight.
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.
We are then lead through the ancient city to the top of a hill to a view that is hard to describe. We are overlooking the city of Bet She'an. In 333 AD Alexander the Great introduced a new mindset. This mindset believed that mankind was the pinnacle of all existence. We are now overlooking one of the greatest cities ever built. This could be the city that Paul refers to in Colossians as the Scythians.
But what is overwhelming is to see how easily we are swayed to follow our eyes and to not walk by faith.
Mark & Marla Kuykendall
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