Isaiah 35:1-2 “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.”
Morning comes really early when you don’t go to bed until 1:30 a.m. We all slept in later than we should just because we needed to. Yet, the morning was beautiful from our apartment. The Mediterranean was blue and there was a strong breeze blowing from the west.
We hurried to get ourselves ready to leave so we could go to the beach. The water was not too cold though the waves were a little higher than yesterday because of the winds. My daughter and I collected little rocks and I took a photo of my foot in the sand as I try to do whenever I’m at the ocean.
Our one and only stop in Haifa was at Elijah’s Cave. For many years and many reasons, Elijah is one of my favorite prophets. His battles with the false gods (ba’als) on Mount Carmel and his prayer to Elohim have been an example to me and situations that I encounter in my life. When the Lord delivered our family from a wolf in sheep’s clothing through powerful words and events, I was given new understanding into Elijah and ‘his power’. He was just an ordinary man with an extraordinary calling, but nothing he did was of himself. When the power of God came on him, he became a vessel to witness Yahweh. Before Elijah went up on Mount Carmel to prove Yahweh in front of the ba’als, there was great oppression in the land because of Jezebel, Ahab’s wife. She brought prophets of ba’al into Israel and began killing the prophets of God. Obadayah hid 100 prophets in two caves to protect them from Jezebel. After the fire coming down and burning up wood soaked with water, Elijah ran forty days and forty nights and hid in a cave. Though this cave was actually near Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai, caves are very symbolic of hiding in fear and loneliness. I understood the cave experience that comes when God’s power suddenly ceases and you’re just a waiting vessel.
The ‘supposed’ cave was not far from our apartment. Information about the cave said it was a quiet place where one could sit and pray. It took us only a few minutes to get there. I looked forward to this moment and I was greatly disappointed.
The cave, taken care of by Jews, has been turned into an ‘enshrined holy place.’ People sat along the walkway trying to sell candles for memorial prayers. There were prayer booths and banners hanging everywhere, and quite honestly, the idolatry in that the place was somewhat sickening. When we entered the cave, men went to one side and women to the other. I couldn’t imagine praying in this place so I tried to find one or two small uncovered areas of the cave to be sure it was a cave! Had the cave remained a cave with all the shrines left outside somewhere, it would have been a spiritually profound place because perhaps at one time, the prophets of Yahweh had been hidden there and Elijah prepared himself there to meet Ahab.
1 Kings 18:36-37 “Then, when it came time for offering the evening offering, Elijah the prophet approached (the altar he had repaired with 12 stones representing the 12 Tribes of Israel) and said, “YHVH, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, YHVH, hear me, so that this people may know that you, YHVH, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back to you.”
We left the cave and with WAZE once again wandered through Haifa on our way toward our next destination. I love taking random photos and so there are a few in this batch of road signs and of “The Messiah”. This man’s photo was plastered everywhere. This is the same “Messiah” whose business card I received when in New York City. Remember that Yeshua says, ‘false messiahs will come’, well, now you’ve actually seen the picture of one!
While planning this trip I had gone on a Messianic Facebook Group and asked if there was anyone who lived in Israel who could help me with some details of the trip. A woman named Sarit contacted me. Sarit is a sabra or a native of Israel. This means that for generations her family has lived in this land and she was born here. She gave me a lot of advice and answered many of my questions. I offered to bring her something from America and she gave me her little list. Sarit lives in a small city on the way to Tiberias so we put her on our itinerary along with visiting the Valley of Jezreel and the remains of Megiddo.
Megiddo and the Valley are known not just because Elijah ran all the way from Haifa to Jezreel and beat Ahab’s chariots, but this valley, near Megiddo is where Naboth had his vineyard (1 Kings 21) and Jezebel would be eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:10). This valley is also the location where the final battle of Armageddon will be fought. The Scriptures say that blood will fill the valley up to the bridles of horses. Seeing the valley, this is an unimaginable amount of blood. My daughter said, “I don’t want to imagine it.”
WAZE. I plugged in Megiddo National Park. Simple. From our position, a dot appeared on the screen. Exactly what is supposed to happen. We followed the directions to the dot and we were nowhere near a national park. We were in a downtown of a city. As we were stopped at a light, we noticed a store on our right side that had these silly pink rabbit suits hanging outside the doorway. We laughed and wondered who would walk around in a pink bunny suit! We found a parking lot in a lumber yard – not a national park – and decided to change the the name from Megiddo National Park to Tel Megiddo. Another little dot showed up on the screen and it was kind of far from the place where we were. The re-routed journey began and ended with a huge sign that said, “Megiddo National Park.” I’m smiling again.
A tel is an archaeological dig. Megiddo is a tel of 25 cities that were built one on top of the other. The oldest city at the bottom of the strata of stones has Canaanite history. There are the remains of a gate, a palace and a worship center. For those who want to understand the time of history a little more clearly, the Canaanites lived in the land that God showed to Abraham. The Canaanites were occupying the land when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the Canaanites that needed to be defeated when Joshua too Israel into the Promised Land after forty years in the wilderness.
Other cities built on top of that city until the time of King David through King Ahab. King David had stables built here for over 300 horses. King Ahab, the husband of Jezebel, also had a palace at Megiddo. Ahab was told to get off the mountain of Carmel before the heavy rain comes. Ahab prepared his chariot made for Jezreel and went off to his palace. With the hand of the Lord on him, Elijah “tucked up his clothing and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45).
After King David several other cities were built on top until the area was abandoned. It remained a silent place until archaeologists began exploring the area.
During the day, I contacted Sarit to find out exactly where she lived so we could plug the address into either Google or WAZE. She gave me her address and even spelled the names for me, but when I entered them, WAZE wanted to send us back to Haifa. We tried to re-route ourselves by just plugging in her city. The GPS recognized the city and we were on our way to meet Sarit.
When we arrived in the city, we plugged in her street address again, and it said we were 28 minutes away from her house. We had just traveled 28 minutes from Megiddo to her city and her city wasn’t that big. Not knowing what to do, we called Sarit and tried to tell her where we were and on which street. She knew where we were and tried to give us directions to her house. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a difficult situation. She doesn’t drive and though she knew landmarks, she couldn’t give us enough time to get wherever we needed to go and we kept turning in wrong directions. The more she tried to help, the more frustrated we became.
Trying to navigate and find your way when you are in traffic is difficult. We can’t just stop and try to figure out where we are because someone is always honking their horn at us to move on. So, we turn to side streets where we can pull over, but that creates another confusion for us and Sarit.
At one point, we were driving down the main thoroughfare of her city, we came to a stoplight. I was looking around for the street name sign and what do I see on my right? Those rabbit suits! The pink rabbit suits! We had been ‘lost’ in this very city before when WAZE considered this to be Megiddo National Park. Let’s just say, we are going to try to make plans to see Sarit on our way back to Tel Aviv. It was already getting late and we did not want to arrive in Tiberias after dark trying to find another apartment.
As we were all turned around and no longer trusted either Google or WAZE, I gave the phone to my daughter who was willing to find our route. I really was tired of feeling like an idiot with technology and getting us lost. She chose one of the numerous routes and off we went again. Unfortunately, she wasn’t familiar with main road route numbers and we took a long, scenic route through Nazareth during rush hour. I will save my comments about Nazareth for another time. I am hoping to see that city with our friend, Rawan, and create a different opinion about it. The night before I made screen captures of Google Maps to the places we needed to go, but they weren’t detailed and showed only main roads. So, I knew we were going to find our freeway to Tiberias … sometime.
As we’re driving down one of the roads, WAZE tells us to take the second exit at the roundabout. We have learned that in most cases this always means ‘go straight’. So, we follow her directions. We go about 1/2 mile and I see that we are going to make a U-turn at the next roundabout. I am not wrong. That is what WAZE tells us to do. We return the same 1/2 mile on the other side of the street (divided road) and take the first exit at that roundabout. In other words, instead of WAZE telling us to take the third exit at the first roundabout (a left turn), she takes us 1/2 mile out of our way, brings us back to make a right turn. It’s getting dark.
We made it to our apartment! We were so glad that we had done a Google street view before we ever came to Israel because in the dark we could not read signs, but remembered the road! Our apartment in Tiberias is two story with two bedrooms and over looks the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). Because it’s dark, we can only see the lights of the houses that surround the sea and some of those lights are in Jordan.
While writing this, I’m watching some of the Olympics! This is the first we’ve seen them and it’s ice skating, my favorite sport of all time. I love listening to the commentary in Hebrew because I’m hearing more and more words.
It’s the end of another day in Israel and though we have bumbling moments, the beauty of the Land makes up for ever wrong turn. For with every wrong turn, we see more and more of the people and the villages and ultimately a more intimate view of Israel.
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