This morning I write to you from a 200-year-old Ottoman Palace turned hostel. There is a pigeon cooing in the tree above my head, water running in the fountain, and the sun is waking on this new day. I’m looking forward to the new things God has for us as we venture toward Capernaum.
Yesterday started off wonderfully, and just kept getting better….until….
We were treated to a wonderful meal by our host and his wife on the terrace of the Tamer Guest House. His wife made some of it herself. It was all so good. The fellowship them and each other was even better. Because the description of the place said that no breakfast was included, I bought fixings to make French toast. So we really had a wonderful breakfast banquet.
After breakfast we headed out in search of Elijah’s cave. Christians say the cave is located on the top of Mt Carmel. Jews and Muslims say it is lower down the mountain. John read that the monks once stayed in the lower cave, but were kicked out, so headed to the top of the mountain. This lines up with what I personally believe. We know that he was on the mountain (presumably the top) when he confronted the priests of Baal, then hid in a cave after being threatened by Jezebel.
Now getting to the lower cave requires a lot of stair climbing. Some of our group is not up to that, so we took off in our cars for the Stella Maris Monastery, the site of the Christian cave. While those of us who have physical challenges toured that site, the rest of us headed down the 200+ steps made by the monks in the 12th century to the lower cave.
Since I’m the one writing this, I would say it’s safe to assume we made it there and back, yes? 🙂
At the cave, I experienced an overwhelming sense of sadness. Once more the Lord spoke to me and impressed upon me the call – to repair, rebuild, and restore the ruin of many generations; to bring the Torah back to followers of the Messiah. As I looked around the cave, it was a lot busier than it was last year. There were a lot more tourists. And all of them seemed to have little regard for the holiness of the place. I see this at the wall as well.
Here we were in the cave of the prophet who will usher in the Messiah, and people chatting about what they bought, pulling things out of their bags to share with their friends. Others, including some in our group, were snapping photos. Still others were pushing their way past a worshipper waiting to approach the alcove to pray. There is no sense of holiness, no sense of selflessness; only ‘what-I-want-as-soon-as-I-want-it’ attitude.
Then I look at the few people who are truly there to pray, to seek God in His holiness, and can’t help but grieve for those who behave so foolishly, so selfishly; who simply don’t realize how holy God is. And I know it’s because they don’t have the Torah. It’s the Torah that teaches us the holiness of God; that He is an all consuming fire and a loving God all rolled into one. But, as Aaron’s sons learned, you can’t just approach Him in the way you want. It always has to be His way.
After leaving Mt Carmel, we spent some time on Tel Megiddo. There are a lot of things to see here, and those who have been here before were able to see some of the things the tour groups don’t visit. We spent some time viewing the Valley of Jezreel, in awe of how much blood it will take to fulfill the prophesy that says the blood will come up to the horses’ chests in the final battle. Can you imagine so much death that it will take seven years to bury the dead?
We also spent a few minutes looking at the temple area, dating to 2700 BCE, amazed that we were looking at structures and an altar from nearly 5,000 years ago. I couldn’t help but think about the people who lived there. They were so much closer to the Garden than we are, so much closer to Noah, yet they died worshipping a false god.
The day was not all dark and morbid. In fact, it was a very good day. At Megiddo, two members of our group started harvesting some of the wild dates for us. They were very sweet and a great unexpected treat.
After Megiddo, we headed to Nazareth, and this is where the day got challenging.
I don’t know why, but it seems God finds it necessary to take me on some very harrowing roads. We were looking for the hostel, and the GPS took us up…and up…and up winding, narrow streets. At one point the car stalled, immediately followed by 5 ladies in LOTS of prayer. It was not a pleasant experience, but obviously one that God deemed necessary. It certainly reminded me that He is in control – when we experience good and pleasant things, and even not so pleasant things.
We finally came down from there to find our hostel was only a 5 minute walk from the turn that took us on a not-so-pleasant adventure.
So here I sit, in the courtyard of a once important person now gone and forgotten; surrounded by birds singing, water running, and the sun now fully awake. I know in my soul that God is King and Ruler over every circumstance. I also know that He loves us, and trains us up as a loving father. Therefore everything we experience, as we walk in obedience to Him, is for our good and His glory.