Blessed with Water
As the sun rose over the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee we headed to the Jordan River. Pastor John performed three baptisms and five baptismal recommitments. It was a beautiful way to start the day. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward decision, and it is not required for salvation.
After we celebrated the baptisms we headed to Bet She’an. We were lucky enough to take the “back way” in and hike up along a rolling stream to the top of Tel She’an. The vista was exceptional and you could see for miles since the skies had cleared of the fog and rain from yesterday. This city has been used for thousands of years by various peoples. In the 15th century BC it was under Egyptian rule, around 1000 BC it was part of the Israelites kingdom under King David, and then in 63 BC the area came under Roman rule. The Roman Decapolis ruins can still be seen today. This Roman city was a place of great temptations for young Israelites as they came to the city to sell cheese, breads, and olive oil; since it was very different than their small villages. The Decapolis offered expansive shopping markets, a large theater for performing arts, baths, running water with indoor restrooms, saunas and so much more. This was the life of luxury compared to stone houses, mikvah’s and potentially 6 month old water in the cistern of the villages within Galilee and Golan Heights. Here we also enjoyed a “roman lunch” of pizza which including toppings of olives or corn. The lesson we took from this location is that there may be times in our lives that we work or interact with others when our faith is being bombarded with negative influences. How do we create an environment that does not pull us away from our faith and instead draws us closer to the cross.
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.
Megiddo is the hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley. This location is prophesied to be the location of the battle during the end times of Armageddon as it told to us in Revelations 16:16. Megiddo has a natural spring that provided an on-going source of water for the village of Megiddo. They were worried their enemies would use the spring against them or use it in an attack; so they hide the access to the spring from outside and built a tunnel to access the spring from inside the village.
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.
Our final stop of the day was at Mount Carmel. The beauty from the top was spectacular; we could see Nazareth through the Jezreel Valley to the East and to the west the Mediterranean Sea. 1 Kings 16-18 tells us the story of Elijah’s boldness against King Ahab and the Baal worshippers. Jesus calls us to be bold in our faith like Elijah. How do we have holy discontent and make bold movements of our prayers to help our families, church or businesses?
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).
We ended our day at Hacienda Forest up in Ma’Alot-Tarshiha Israel. Tomorrow we head to Bridges for Peace and the Mediterranean coast.
Featured Upcoming Trip