Day 2--Monday, March 27
After a good night's sleep and the realization that we get to stay at our present hotel in Tiberias for several nights (and don't have to pack and move), we launched into our new day in Galilee. Our first stop was Mt. Tabor, the likely location for "the mount of transfiguration." The narrow road to the top of Mt. Tabor is a bus-free zone, so we piled into several taxi vans which simulated the LeMans Gran Prix. Some of our folks were already taking Dramamine. Once atop the mountain we were treated not only to an amazing view of the Jezreel Valley below, but to a season in God's Word, considering the significance of this moment when Jesus briefly revealed His glory and power to Peter, James and John. Of course Peter, speaking for the rest of us, was ready to build a shrine. That was not God's plan, and ironically the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church did that in 1924. The Franciscans were very hospitable, but I'm glad we chose to worship in our way rather than at the Mass underway in their chapel. To learn more, go to http://biblewalks.com/Sites/Tabor.html.
Below Mt. Tabor were two communities of significance: the community of Endor where king Saul sought counsel from a witch (1 Samuel 28) and the community of Kish where Saul's father had lived. From this vantage point, it is interesting to note that the Israeli people don't do community development the way we Americans do. Rather than expanding and expanding the existing city borders, the Jewish approach is to retain a sense of community, passing that identity from generation to generation. Sometimes a new community will spring up, but it will follow the same pattern of a tight footprint rather than endless sprawl.
Next we headed off to Mt. Carmel where the ancient Jewish prophet Elijah confronted the idolatry of Baal worship even among his own people (1 Kings 18). If you've ever had someone say to you, "How do you know that the Christian God is really God?" then you know what Elijah faced. This was the ultimate showdown between those who claim deity and the One who is deity. You know how it ends. The Carmelite order maintains the humble facility, complete with a chapel and 12 stones to emulate the altar erected for the contest with Elijah, but unfortunately there was significant haze today making it impossible to see the Mediterranean or other important sites in the distance. To learn more, go to http://biblewalks.com/Sites/CarmeliteMonastery.html.
Making our way down from Mt. Carmel we continued to Megiddo, the ancient place that sits at the crossroads of this region and has been built and destroyed more than twenty-five times. Archaeologists have been hard at work unearthing the tel (an ancient site hidden under a trapezoidal mound of earth) revealing a massive collection of civilizations. Following lunch we took our time observing the Canaanite gate and altar for human sacrifice (including human remains), the complex of buildings erected by Ahab king of Israel, a huge grain pit from the time of Jeroboam, and numerous stables built to house the 450+ horses of Solomon (1 King 9:15-19). While we were gazing at the location of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) we were visited by a huge flock of white pelicans, circling above us in a chaotic dance of swirling and circling. Amazing. The highlight of this visit was to descend deep into the earth inside a water delivery system built by king Ahab which brought water inside the city walls through a hidden access. To learn more, go to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/vie-megiddo.
From there we traveled to the spring of Harod, the site where Gideon was challenged to believe that God could do the impossible through him. After taking away all the confidence-builders Gideon was counting on, God used a mere 300 men to soundly defeat the Midianites (Judges 6-8). The beautiful spring and cave now serve the community as a park. To learn more, go to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ma-rsquo-ayan-harod-nature-reserve.
Our final stop today was overlooking the Jezreel Valley. There we recalled the story of Jehu being anointed and the eventual demise of the wicked queen Jezebel. Read it for your own reality check (2 Kings 9). As we drove toward Tiberias we passed Mt. Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan were killed (1 Samuel 31) and read David's lament (2 Samuel 1). To learn more, go to http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/ot/jezreel.html.
What did our Father teach me today?
God Doesn't Care about Your Credentials
So often those who rise to power believe they deserve it, while those who are most useful to God don't see themselves as worthy. Today God reminded me that, like Moses, Gideon had to learn to think with faith rather than with his common sense. The challenges God presented to him were impossible things, yet because Gideon ultimately believed God could and trusted Him for it he was used to prevail. Don't be preoccupied with your credentials. It doesn't matter whether you come from a good family or whether you have a great education or consider yourself just a regular person. None of that matters when the God of the universe wants to show Himself through your simple faithfulness to believe and obey.
Consider This: Hebrews 11