Moving up the Mediterranean Coast and slightly inland, we arrived at the Carmel Range. Upon what is called Mt Carmel, 1 Kings 18 records Elijah’s confrontation of the prophets of Baal. In the days of Elijah, the wicked king Ahab ruled, and had ushered in idol worship. At God’s command, a contest ensued to determine the One True God, as Elijah and the Baals each built altars and called down fire from above.
That passage served as a launching point for our study at Carmel about God’s faithfulness to restore Israel. Despite evil kings, captivity in foreign lands, and dispersion to the four corners of the earth, God promised in Ezekiel, Jeremiah and other places that Israel would be brought back to their land, never to be displaced again. We witness God’s faithfulness as we see the Jewish people back in their land today!
Below is a group picture under the statue of Elijah at Mt Carmel, our teaching time at Carmel, and the Israeli Air Force Base, Ramat David, situated in the Jezreel Valley (Armageddon).
Lying just a short distance to the southeast is Megiddo. Situated at the crossroads of major trade routes in the ancient world, Megiddo was a prime location for trade, and for defense of territory. A “stack” of 20+ civilizations have been unearthed at Meggido, including sections from the Canaanite era, stables of Solomon’s time, and a water tunnel which allowed access to a spring outside the walled city.
Below is a Canaanite altar, city gate, water troughs from Solomon’s stables (these are thought to be what Jesus’ manger would have looked like), and our group descending into the water tunnel.
One of the trademarks of our tour was the fact we saw and experienced things most tours do not. The purpose was to engage the people of Israel, as well as see the sites. Thus, while in a heavily Druze-populated area near the Carmel Range, we stopped at a roadside stand where a Druze man was preparing and selling what looked like Middle East-style burritos! These hyssop and goat cheese-filled goodies wrapped in pita bread were grilled on an odd looking contraption. They were also filled with other tasty ingredients, including chocolate-tasting halva! We all bravely tasted the fare and I think it was unanimous: yummy!
The Druze people, BTW, are very peaceful and serve courageously in the IDF. Despite being predominately Muslim, they appreciate living in the land of Israel.
In making our way to Nazareth, we stopped at Mt Precipice, the brow of a cliff believed to be the one reference in Luke 4:28-29, from which the people of Nazareth planned to cast their “not-so-favorite” son (Jesus) down. (Read Luke 4 in its entirety to get the full context.) Pastor John delivered a very encouraging message about God’s faithfulness in the difficult times of our lives.
Of course, it was in Nazareth where we met Pastor Saleem Shalash, which became a highlight of our tour. If you missed it, check out One Incredible Day!