I began the day watching the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee from our balcony at Beit Bracha. Beautiful.
We headed north today, and our first stop was the ruins at Chorazin, one of the cities Jesus lamented over because, even though He performed miracles there, they did not repent. (Luke 10:13-14).
From there we drove to the northen-most border with Lebanon in the Golan Heights, where we stood on a mount looking across a vast valley to the Lebanese village on the other side. Arie told us a story about the faitfhulness of God from modern history that took place not too far from there. That has been the rhythm of this tour: visit the place, then study.
After lunch we went to Tel Dan, where we saw the oldest city gates in the world. Four thousand years ago, Abraham defeated the kings who had kidnapped Lot and stolen his possessions (Genesis 14:14-15).
Arie knew the narrow dirt road that took us back to the ancient city gates. There were no signs and when we arrived at the gates they were surrounded by a security fence. This place was not yet open to the public, but Arie knew how to get back there so we could get a look from outside the fence. It pays to have a good tour guide.
The highlight of the day was Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asked the disicples, “Who do people say that I am?,” and then told them the gates of Hades would not prevail against the Church. (Matthew 16:17-19). And here is why it is so important to understand the places of the Bible.
The “gates of Hades” are not just a metaphor but are right here in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus was probably pointing to them when He made the statement. The “gates of Hades,” as they were known, is the mouth of a cave out of which flowed a spring, and out of which it was believed Baal would enter and leave the underworld.
Greek shrines were built here to their god, Pan, and they would have been there when Jesus was teaching and pointing. Jesus was saying the Church would soundly defeat paganism in all its forms and prevail upon the earth. Now, all that is left of the pagan temple is part of the foundation, a reminder of the historical fact that paganism did not prevail against the growing Church.
As I finish this post, the sun is breaking through the clouds over the Sea of Galilee. So, I’ll end this day as it began. GS