Holy Land – Day 6

  • By Dr. Don Martin
  • Senior Pastor
  • March 22, 2015
  I'm glad I dressed in layers today because the weather changed at every site. We had winds all day and sometimes they would about blow you away. Cool and rainy early in the morning as we arrived at Hazor. Today we walked where King Solomon walked n it was an OT kind of morning. Hazor was a fortified city where King Solomon kept horses and chariots to defend the northern borders of Israel. Chariots were the tank divisions of that day and Solomon had approximately 450 at this location with the same number at two other strategically located cities. This is the largest dig in Israel covering about 200 acres. Only a portion is being excavated. The area is beautiful with crops, vineyards and orchards covering the surrounding countryside. The height offered an amazing  vista where approaching armies would have been easily seen. The city was protected by thick walls and a water source inside the walls was dug 75 meters deep to access a spring without the need to leave the city. Many battles have been fought in this area. The Canaanites were here in the 14th century BC. The visit will spur me to read more OT history. It also reminds me that this land is a place of milk and honey. Galilee can and did feed all of Israel in abundance. We also visited the Nature Reserve at Banias which is Caesarea Philipi in the NT. This is the place where Simon Peter confessed his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Annointed man of God, who was sent to save the nation. You feel like your in Ellijay or somewhere in the North Georgia Mts. This is the headwater of the Jordan and the water is clear and flowing and is trout stream clear. It was also a place of many forms of Pagan worship with spectacular temples built to honor Zeus and Pan and more. There is a huge cave with a spring flowing from it n pagan belief held that this was the entry way to hell so they put gates on it. Which is what Jesus was alluding to when he told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the truth of the gospel.  The old temples are gone now with only relics n ruins to give witness that it was ever a sacred place. But the sacred message of Christ is ripping hell to shreds wherever JESUS is loved and adored and his teachings lived out. The place reminds me that Jesus envisioned his church on the offense and not the defense. It also helped that I got a half dozen War Eagles from people who were also on pilgrimage so let's get the church on the Gus bus if you know your SEC lingo. Lunch was up, up on a mountain that used to be a volcano. The falafel was pretty good but I'd be richer than Solomon if Israel would let me build a Waffle House in the area. We took a journey up to the Golan Heights n looked over into Syria. Our guide reminded us of the war with Syria in the 1970s n he does not lack for pride n patriotism. I climbed up on a tank and thought about the nearly 2 million Syrian refugees who are languishing in poverty in Turkey. They have lost everything along with loved ones and Jimmy told me the Syrian city we were viewing is abandoned. They are in a mess to put it mildly because of ISIS and a complicated n violent history. Israel is not without error in this part of the world and they are holding many Palestinians oppressed prisoners in their own homes and we need to lean on them about the issue. However, where they live and rule crops grow and people live in peace. Across the border, hate and murder reigns supreme and the most violent in the land hold all the face cards. We ended the day at Bethsaida. I have great memories of this place. Jane Rogers and I put together an Ash Wednesday Service for the pilgrims here a few years ago. I wanted to be by myself n pray for a particular turkey hunting buddy of mine who knows who he is and might be reading these lines, but it wasn't quiet enough. Easter is on the horizon and so is Jerusalem. We will be heading that way in the morning.   Y'all Come, Dr. Don.