Sunday, March 1, 2015
BATTLEFIELD OF EMPIRES
Jezreel Valley Storm, Mount Carmel, Israel
The Holy Land is sectioned into four parallel zones comprising the coastal plain by the Mediterranean Sea, the central hill country, the Jordan River Valley, and the eastern hill country. This natural flow of the land gave rise to the main lines of communication running in a north-south direction. The northern region of Galilee is an exception, however, as there are five east-west valleys breaking through the central mountain range there. The most famous and strategic Jezreel Valley lies in the southern limit of Lower Galilee and is at a cross roads of many routes into the land. The ancient site of Megiddo stood at the entrance to the middle Carmel pass and was the focus of many battles in antiquity. Thutmose III, King of Egypt, defeated a Canaanite coalition here in 1468 B.C. Thutmose considered that “capturing Megiddo is as good as capturing a thousand cities.”
We traveled up to the top of Mount Carmel which overlooks the Jezreel Valley and has been considered a holy mountain since the time of Elijah. A Carmelite Chapel now resides here on the hill of El-Muhraqa. Archeologists have uncovered extensive remains of villages on the surrounding hills but not here, which would seem to confirm that from time immemorial the hill has been regarded as sacred. It was here that Elijah challenged 450 Prophets of Baal in a contest to determine if their god or Yahweh was the one true god. Queen Jezebel who worshiped Baal had married King Ahab and had ordered the extermination of the Prophets of Yahweh. Both groups prepared a sacrifice but only Yahweh sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Afterwards, Elijah ordered all the Prophets of Baal to be slaughtered at the Kishon River flowing through the Jezreel Valley below.
John writes in the book of Revelation that the final conflict pitting the forces of good against the forces of evil will occur at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon (the Mound of Megiddo). Because of the storied history of the Jezreel Valley in the ancient struggle for control of this acutely strategic region, this valley is where Armageddon is anticipated to unfold in the final days of the end times. As I stood on the scenic overlook on the roof of the El-Muhraqa Monastery surveying the Jezreel Valley below, it seemed as if nature was staging a full blown re-enactment. A thunder storm had developed off to the east and was rapidly blitz kriging through the valley to the west. Fire spears streaked from the heavens to the green fields below as the thunderous roar of a thousand chariots followed in the aftermath and echoed throughout the valley. You could visualize the legions of armored soldiers charging through the land in a desperate assault to gain the advantage of such a strategic gateway to the nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea--or fighting for the souls of all mankind.