Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Israel: Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Maritima meaning "by the sea" was an ancient Roman capital of Judea at the time of Jesus, located on the shore of Israel midway between Telaviv and Haifa. Today Caesarea is an interesting national park and a must-see place when you visit Israel.

Herod the Great built the city of the Caesarea in twelve years. He named the city in honor of Augustus Caesar. It became the capital of the Roman government in Palestine. The Roman procurators, including Pontius Pilate, made their home in Caesarea troops were trained there. The city included an amphitheater, theatre, hippodrome, palace(with swimming pool), drainage system, aqueduct and port. The city was known for its splendor and engineering marvels.

Back of the amphitheater
Ruins of Herod's palace
Mighty winds playing with the waves
Palace pillars from afar
Caesarea shore
Kytin, Michelle and Grace
One of the oldest functional amphitheater in Israel
Entrance to the amphitheater
Aerial view courtesy of Wikipedia

Philip, one of the seven deacons of Jerusalem, settled in Caesarea after ministering in Samaria and to the Ethiopian court official. He had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 6:5; 8:5-40; 21:8-9). Peter came to Caesarea from Joppa and preached the gospel in the home of Cornelius. The coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles showed that the Gospel was now open to them as well as the Jews (Acts 10).

God killed Herod Agrippa I in Caesarea because he accepted the worship of others(Acts 12:19-24). Paul visited Caesarea three times: as a young believer and at the conclusion of both his second and third missionary journeys. The third time he stayed at the home of Philip. Agabus, from Jerusalem, came and warned Paul that if he went to Jerusalem he would be captured and turned over the Gentiles(Acts 18:22; 21:6-15). During the two years that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea, he defended himself before Felix and Festus(Roman procurators) and before King Agrippa II (Acts 23:23-27:1)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Israel: Valley of Jezreel (Armageddon)

Megiddo, an ancient hilltop settlement in northern Israel known for its historical, geographical and theological importance under its Greek name Armageddon. Megiddo is a town approximately 25 miles west south-west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in the Kishon River area in Israel. Located in the Jezreel Valley.

The Valley of Jezreel lies between Galilee and Samaria and includes the Valley of Megiddo (Armageddon)

Entrance to the the ruins of Tel Megiddo
Ancient manger
Roads of Tel Megiddo
Girls you rock the world :D
Somewhere down the road with me and Michelle 
Ruins atop Tel Megiddo
Me, Kytin, Grace and Michelle, finally we are complete!
Valley of Megiddo view from top of Tel Megiddo
Another show of clouds
Checking what's down there...

Staircase to the cave
Wooden pathways under ground

The Holy Bible account significant events which took place in the Valley of Jezreel, here are to site a few - the army led by Deborah and Barak defeated the army of King Jabin of Hazor led by the commander Sisera. The defeat occurred near the River Kishon that flows through the Jezreel Valley. God brought a thunderstorm that caused the small stream to overflow its banks and carry away the enemy (Judges 4:9-16, 5:21).

Gideon and his band of 300 soldiers defeated the Midianites in the Valley of Jezreel (Judges 7:1-23). Jehu drove "like a madman" across the Valley of Jezreel to the city of Jezreel where he killed Joram, king of Israel (Ahab's son), and Jezebel, the queen mother, and he mortally wounded Ahaziah, king of Judah (whose maternal grandmother was Ahab) (2 Kings 9:14-29)

Other biblical reference of the Valley of Jezreel can be found in the book of Revelation where it is prophesied to be the location of a gathering of armies for the final battle during the end of times. The term "Armageddon" is also used to denote end of the world scenario.

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. --Revelation 16:16Modern Megiddo, a kibbutz(a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based in agriculture) in northern Israel.

Israel: Mount Carmel

Today as we leave Galilee, we travel to Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, and then we cross the Valley of Jezreel(Armageddon) to Megiddo, a city that Solomon fortified.

Lush green from the top of the mountain
Panoramic scenery from Mount Carmel viewing deck
Church of Mount Carmel Muhraka
Carmel, "garden land," is a word used to indicate a place where trees and gardens grow. Mount Carmel is part of a wooden mountain ridge that extends 21 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea and rises 700 meters above sea level. The mountain is lush all year round. In ancient times, altars to various deities were built on its heights, Baal in particular, The brook, Kishon flows at the base of Mt. Carmel.

Statue of Elijah slaying a Baal priest
The prophet Elijah had a contest with the group of prophets of Baal to demonstrate the true God on top of the Mount Carmel, The people then worshipped God and killed the prophets of Baal at the foot of Mount Carmel, at the Brook of Kishon (1 Kings 18:16-40).

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” -- 1 Kings 18:36-39

Elijah prayed seven times on top of the Mount Carmel asking God to send rain and end the lengthy drought. When the rain come, Elijah outran King Ahab, who traveled by chariot to Jezreel (1 Kings 18:41-46). The prophet Elisha, frequented Mount Carmel (2 Kings 2:25; 4:25).

The Old Testament used Mount Carmel as an illustration of strength, beauty and natural fertility (Isaiah 33:9; Jeremiah 46:18, 50:19; Amos 1:2; Nahum 1:4)

Music: Oceans by Hillsong United

That surreal location where Jesus called Peter to walk on water, Hillsong United filmed their live music video of their song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

I couldn't think of a better place to shoot this video but right in the Sea of Galilee where Peter demonstrated his courage to leave the comfort of the boat and in obedience made his first few step towards Jesus.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
-- Matthew 14:28-33
Hope this song bless you and inspire you to boldly ask Jesus and have the courage to obey His calling. God bless you!

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
(Repeat 6 times )

Oh Jesus yeah, my God

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine