Wednesday, May 22, 2013

holy land tour, day four : tel dan, caesarea philippi, and golan heights



I’m pretty sure this was my favorite day of touring so far. From sunrise on the Galilee to the incredible Golan Heights, everywhere we went was so beautiful, and the Lord gave me many moments of awe and encouragement—as well as some much-needed reminders.

We started out at the Tel Dan nature reserve—a beautiful park around the clear, chilly Dan springs, with a trail that winds all the way past the cultic high place (1 Kings 12:28-29) to a viewpoint that overlooks the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Tel DanTel Dan3Tel Dan4Tel Dan6Tel Dan14Tel Dan8Tel Dan11

After seeing the high place at Dan and being reminded of its origin in the story of King Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11-13, I decided to go back and study the story for myself. I can relate to Jeroboam in too many ways. He had the clear direction of God and concrete promises that obedience would pay off, yet he allowed fear to creep into his heart—the fear of losing popularity and power that, though he hadn’t earned them, he had come to idolize. He chose to sate his fears with self-powered solutions instead of reliance on the Word of God. The results were disastrous.

This is a pattern that occurs over and over again in Scripture, and I refer to its test cases often. I know myself well enough to know that fear is one of my weaknesses, so I constantly have to return to God’s specific promises and check myself from creating my own flawed solution out of doubt or impatience. This passage in particular encouraged me to check my heart for idols—anything I prize so highly that I would be willing to compromise against the Lord to hang onto it. Maybe it’s not popularity and power, but what about independence? Security? Recognition? Adventure?

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop. The thing about this place that caught my attention was its incredible beauty, with a soothing stream at the foot of some impressive cliffs—yet it was called the “Gates of Hades” by Jesus in Matthew 16:13ff. Nothing that went on there was beautiful. It was the location of a major cultic temple where bloody and violent worship practices of various false gods were common.


Finally, some scenes from the beautiful Golan Heights. There is nothing like a cool mountain breeze whipping in your hair after a hot day of walking! I think that if there was just one Cascade-esque mountain somewhere in the distance, I could be perfectly content to live in northern Israel.


(Random fact: the above photo looks out across the very edge of Israel to Syria.)

After all this, we got to stop at a modern-day oil press and try out some incredible products—oil from black olives, green olives, and pitted olives; oil flavored with lemon oil, garlic oil, and basil oil; and best of all, olive oil cosmetics for face, lips, hands, eyes, scars, hair, rashes, and pretty much anything else you can think of! It was a very relaxing note to end on. :)

1 comment:

  1. It's so beautiful there. The olive oil place sounds awesome! Did you get to dip bread into it, or did you have to, like, drink it? Because that would be yucky.

    Fear is one of my tipping points too. Which you already knew ;)



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