I woke up this morning very sore from my fall the evening before but with a strong determination that it would not keep me from experiencing a single thing in Israel. Armed with Advil, water (real drinkable water), and Oregano (for the soreness and bruising), I was ready for the day.
Our first stop was Corazim/Corazin/Chorazin one of the three cities that Jesus cursed because they refused to accept Him (Matthew 11:20) even after all that they had seen Him do. We walked among the ruins of the city and saw dwelling houses, ritual baths where the priests would have cleansed themselves, and the Synagogue which contained a Moses Seat where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees would have sat (Matthew 23).
Mom and I:
My favorite part of this place was when my dad asked me to go with him to a traditional home site. Not wanting to miss any of what he was telling me, I moved my camera over to video mode. Here is what he explained to me:
Amazing, isn't it?! Thanks, Dad!!!
From Corazin, we travelled to Tel Hazor. This was an important military fortress site that Joshua reclaimed by burning the place down. Our guide dug down a little bit in the dirt and actually showed us some ash/soot in the archaeological remains.
From Tel Hazor we travelled north to Tel Dan. It is located at the foot of Mt. Hermon and the Golan Heights. While walking we came across young Israeli soldiers. In Israel, once a teenager turns eighteen, they are enlisted in the army; young men serve for three years, and the young ladies serve for two years. These young soldiers looked like they were all 18 years old. And the young men seemed delighted by all of our attention and were more than happy to take a picture with our girls.
In Tel Dan we saw a temple that was clearly made by man. It contained a false alter and a place where the golden calf would have been placed. How do I know it was a false altar? In I Kings 12:25-31, King Jeroboam wanted to prevent the people of Dan from going to the real Temple in Jerusalem. He knew if the people left, they would once again give their allegiance to God. So, he constructed his own temple complete with an altar and a place for the golden calf. The altar was made from smooth stone, not at all what God had planned for the real Temple altar, and it had steps. Today, the place of the false altar is desolate; nothing appears to grow in this place, except for some ancient trees, because this was not what God had planned for His people.
Later on we saw ruins of the the world's oldest and largest arch. It is believed that Abraham would have passed by here on his way to find Lot.
Our last stop for the day was Caesarea Phillipi (Banias Spring) a very evil place where people worshipped Pan who was half human, half goat, had horns, and played the flute to transport people to Hades. The name Pan means "panic." During these times, the people believed that all humans would go to Hades and only the gods, like Pan, would go to Heaven. At first glance, Caesarea Phillip looks like a very beautiful place.
But, then we reached the grotto.
It is in this grotto that the people would make their sacrifices to Pan. Virgin daughters and animals were sacrificed in this place. The people would throw their sacrifices into the steep grotto, the bodies would go under ground and come out in the water. They believed that if no blood was seen in the water, then the offering was acceptable to Pan. Needless to say, I didn't like this place at all!
My dad reminded us that this was also the place that Jesus brought His disciples and this was where He asked them, "Who do men say that I am?" (Matthew 16:13-18). It would have taken Jesus and His disciples 2 long days to journey from Capernaum to Caesarea Phillipi but they walked there for a very specific purpose. He asked them the question in this place...this notoriously evil place. Our Saviour, the One True Sacrifice, our way (the Only Way) to Heaven. Can't you just see Simon Peter reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." In this evil place....Grace and Mercy like the world had never known walked here for a very specific purpose...for you and for me!