After a very long and bumpy flight, with no sleep we landed safely in Tel Aviv...a thoroughly modern metropolis and home to as many tech companies as in the U.S. (betcha didn't know that! I didnt!) Without stopping, since we had several of our group delayed in customs, we began our travel to Caesarea Maritima.
It's the ruins of King Herod's palace and city built on the Mediterranean coast halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa to the north. Today, this city is the Beverly Hills of Israel, with one of only 2 golf courses in the country. Posh or is, but it hearkens back to the time of Jesus' birth and Herod's opulence dedicated to the Emperor.
Here he built a palace, theater, and hippodrome (Kentucky Derby-like only with chariots!) In the Bible, this is where Cornelius followed Jesus and was baptized and where Agrippa died (Acts 10-11) but also where Paul in Acts 21-25 made his famous appeal to Caesar.
That's the history, but the feeling of standing where Paul stood, giving a reason for his faith, preaching...powerful! To touch the stones and the original mortar on an ancient aqueduct originally 6 miles long with a slope of only 2 degrees - without any modern GPS equipment - makes me marvel!
But then, my faith was boosted by an archeological fact. A stone was found with an inscription from Pontius Pilate...here...proving this leader existed, when no other evidence existed and was the basis of skeptics doubting the crucifixion account! Friends, you can be confident in your faith that rests on facts not feelings!
Oh, but then, after a traditional Druze lunch, we headed to Mt. Carmel, site of the Carmelite Catholic order for centuries. Atop this mountain, Elijah confronted the pagan prophets of Baal, and God displayed His mighty power...and where, at the brook Lisbon just below, Elijah slew all of them (1st Kings 18).
Oh yes, this mountain figured prominently there, but from it's heights, you can see the entire Vally of Jezreel, My. Hermon to the north, Mt. Tabor to the east, and Harm-Meggida (Armageddon). This is where Revelation describes the last battle...right here! And yes, there is an active military base here with F-16s overhead as well! Besides these implications, I have to say, the view, even on a hot, windy and hazy day (at 103°F) is spectacular!
It gives me a sense of history that is wrapped all together...a story interwoven through all of time... here, in this place. As our guide, an Israeli archeologist, pointed all this out, my goosebumps ran wild.
I guess I never stopped to consider the global implications of this until now, precisely because, I think, we in the West can prefer to be ignorant. "It's their problem, so why should I care?"
Family, think of this. From this mountain you can see the northern, western and eastern borders of this nation, a mere 85K square miles, and all the world wants it. I can see why. The resources here are precious, but this is worth it! I feel.very at home here...safe...yet strangely uneasy. Why? Because we know what happens here. The final showdown...but our hope is in the Lord who has ultimate victory!
I realize it may be the jet-lag catching up to me and no sleep for 2 days (!!) but what is on your heart as you read this? Let me challenge you as I am challenged this week. Thanks for going on this journey with.me. And as always, I enjoy walking it with you!