Friday, March 6, 2009

Israel Pictures, Take 3

Day 3: Mt. Tabor (the traditional site of the Transfiguration, although Mt. Hermon may be a better option); Cana and Nazareth; Ruins of the City of Megiddo overlooking the Valley of Armageddon; Baptismal site at the Jordan River.

This is the first restaurant I saw as we were walking through Cana. It made me laugh!

This is the entrance to the traditional site of Joseph of Nazareth's home and workshop. Constantine's mother, Helena, did us all the favor of marking all of the "holy sites" and placing a shrine or Catholic church on site. There are several caves that have been excavated underneath this church in Nazareth which used to be the dwelling places of the people of Nazareth. It is possible, and even likely, that Jesus may have played in or near these very caves as a child growing up in Nazareth.

This is Mount Tabor, visible from the City of Megiddo.

This is the Valley of Megiddo. In the New Testament it is called the Valley of Armageddon, and we know it as the place where the last battle will occur. As you may know, I have been reading through the Left Behind books by Tim LaHaye. I have been reading a fictional account of the last battle, and many of the names, places, and geography in the book did not make sense to me. I think that the city of Megiddo, overlooking the Armageddon Valley, was my favorite stop on this trip (if I have to choose a favorite) because it put everything into perspective that I have been reading. Reading the books has made me want to study more about the End Times also.

When you are on top of an ancient city overlooking a vast valley which has never been built up, standing on a major crossroads between Egypt and the rest of the world, it is easy to imagine the Saints following Jesus Christ into battle with the Antichrist. I am glad that in that day I will be on the winning side!

Several decisive battles have already been fought in this location, including the battle in which King Josiah was fatally wounded. Because of its strategic location, the ancient City of Megiddo has been conquered and rebuilt at least 25 times. At some places in the ruins, the different levels are visible.

Andrea and Ben overlooking the Megiddo Valley

These are some of the horse troughs from the stables of King Solomon at Megiddo. He had several stables to house hundreds of horses. Many of the troughs and horse-posts were intact when the city was excavated.

At the end of the day we stopped at the Jordan river at the location where Jesus may have been baptized by John. Visitors can "rent" a baptismal robe and be baptized in the Jordan river. A special treat on our trip was the salvation of two members of our group. A man in our group, Rich Kirby, has been praying for his friends Pat and Sharon Scott for many, many years. The night before, Rich was blessed to be able to lead Pat to Christ. As we were already stopping at the Jordan River, Rich was given the privilege of baptizing his friend in the Jordan River.

Outside of the entrance there was a passage from Mark telling the story of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. This passage was translated into many different languages. Here is Ben, my seminary student, between the Greek and Hebrew versions.

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