Monday, October 11, 2010

Caesarea, Megiddo, Nazareth...and Hedonism

Today we had a cornucopia of foods for breakfast. Just when I was remarking about the amazing buffet of fresh yogurts, muesli and soft cheeses from around the world, I noticed another table of salads, raw veggies and a variety of olives. After I had filled my plate, I glanced to my left, and saw an array of dried and roasted fish.
We arrived at our table, thanked the Lord for our food, and began to eat. I wanted a mundane cup of tea, so, I went searching for it on the other side of the room, where, to my amazement, was another table of hot breakfast foods, and an assortment of breads and pastries. "Further in and further on", as the Centaur in "The Last Battle" proclaimed. And so I did! I found my tea and also an array of fruits, fruit smoothies, an omelet bar, and an espresso station. Was I dreaming? And this isn't Heaven yet!
Back to reality, we headed north to Caesarea. Another beautiful spot to live...the Mediterranean coast is breathtaking, and the cool breezes a welcome relief from the heat. Which is why Herod I, an architect as well as King, commissioned his palace to be built here. Even today, it is the home of the highest real estate in the country.
Herod had the aqueduct that was meant for the city partially diverted to his home, so he could fill a pool carved from the rock in the Mediterranean...a fresh water pool within the ocean! He also built the hippodrome (where chariot races were held), just outside his door. How's that for hedonistic tendencies?
More importantly, this was where Peter met with Cornelius, a Roman official and a righteous man, after they both had dreams. Peter was in Joppa, dreaming about God pronouncing all things clean to eat. Even Gentiles, God revealed, were clean if they believed in
Christ's work on the cross...unbelievable to a Jew! Cornelius, was lead in a dream to find Peter, so he could bring him the Gospel. They met, Cornelius converted to Christianity, and soon, many Gentiles in the known world were changed through Christ's work on the cross. Being the first Christian convert, I'm sure he was a great influence on the entire Roman government in some way. Later, as more Gentiles turned from their pagan ways, they chose Caesarea as their home.

We then took the winding road up to to top of Mt Carmel, (seemed higher than Sinai) where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. Fire from Heaven consumed his water-doused sacrifice, to show that Jehovah was the one true God. We could see the valley of Megiddo spread out before us, north and east from that lofty vantage point. It was more vast than I had imagined! This is where all the armies of the world will meet to make war in the battle of Armageddon, evil against evil. Then suddenly, the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord will appear and smite the nations with the sword of his mouth. This incident is found in Revelation 20; the good news is...Christ wins!
The king of Megiddo had his royal stables on a ridge overlooking the plains of the same name, so we toured the archeological site. Over 20 ancient civilizations have been found in the layers under the valley of think this will be the site of civilization as we know it is hard to comprehend.
Nearby, was the mountain of transfiguration, where two disciples saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah. They wanted to build a memorial, but that was not in Jesus plan to have them worship a site, instead of the person, as we sometimes do today.
At the end of the day, we visited the church in Nazareth that housed the cave Mary was living in when the angel Gabriel announced that she would bear a son. Some believe the angel met her at the well a distance from her home, disguised as a human. A large city today, nestled in the hills overlooking the Megiddo plain, it was also in ancient times. A very ordinary city, from what I understand.
Within a short drive, and certainly within easy walking distance from Jesus' home, was Cana, the location of His first miracle. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding when the last of the wine ran out.
Now, we are traveling towards Tiberius, where we will lodge for two nights. Tomorrow, we will see the places Jesus ministered while he was in Galilee.

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Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel