Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5

What a beautiful day we had today. Our first stop was Bet Shean which was a very opulent Decapolis City of old testament times. The city was both destroyed and preserved by an earthquake. The ruins have been magnificently restored. The ruins uncovered date back to 1400 BC. Even the ruins make this place look like an incredible Roman city that you would expect to see in Rome. It had a theatre that could seat 7,000 people. Most of the group sat at the top of the theatre and our speaker who gave the devotional stood below on the stage. He spoke with no microphone and the acoustics were so incredible that we could hear him clearly even though the majority of the walls had been destroyed. It also had what amounted to as a huge Roman country club with several steam baths, gymnasiums and spas. It also had public co-ed restroom facilities the engineering of which would amaze any one. Also the city had a large marketplace and churches, monasteries and synagogues. In a huge battle between the Israelites and the Philistines on nearby Mt. Gilboa Saul's 3 sons had been killed and Saul directed his servant to kill him because he did not want to be captured by the Philistines. The servant refused and Saul fell on his own sword killing himself. The Philistines beheaded Saul and his sons and hung their bodies in the walls at Bet Shean. Saul had rescued the people at Jabesh Gilead from an evil king. The Jabesh Gilead people wanted to show respect for Saul and traveled at night to retrieve the bodies of Saul and his sons. As an aside, the Romans worshiped many gods. We learned that one of them was Nike, god of victory.

This is the "potty"

My Sampson 

The next place we went to was Bet Alpha where there is an ancient synagogue which had a mingling of both Jewish and pagan symbolism in a beautiful mosaic covering the entire floor area. It dates back to 560 AD but is now a Kibbutz. In 1929, a person plowing hit the mosaic floor and it was uncovered and preserved.

Next we went to En Harod where we saw the place regarding the story of Jerubbaal, also known as Gideon, as described in Judges 7. We saw the very spot where Gideon was instructed by the Lord to have his men drink from the spring to further weed out the number of people he could take into battle against the Midianites. Gideon had originally had 32,000 men but the Lord instructed him to weed them down to 300 because God wanted it clear that God was the reason for the victory of the Israelites.

Our next stop was incredible. We went to a place called Megiddo which was the chariot fortress of both Solomon and Ahab overlooking the Valley of Armageddon as described in Revelations 16. The fortress had many horse stalls, horse troughs made of stone and areas for the chariots. Our guide pointed out that these stone troughs would be similar to what Jesus was placed in at birth. It would not have been wood as is commonly depicted. It was a phenomenal feeling to look at the beautiful fertile valley that was approximately 40 miles by 27 miles where Jesus will appear for the battle of Armageddon.

Our final stop was at the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Our guide indicated that this may not be the exact spot because John had baptized around several areas in the Jordan River. A large modern complex had been erected here to commemorate Jesus' baptism and God saying " This is my beloved son, etc." There are steps going down into the water where people can be baptized and you can even purchase robes to be baptized in. Can't wait until we are able to download pictures so you can see how spectacular God's country is.

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