Carmel, Caesarea, and Christmas in May

Trip Start May 25, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2008

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Flag of Israel  ,
Saturday, May 31, 2008

This morning we started our day by driving past Cana, where Jesus turned water to wine.  Cana is now mostly Muslim.  We also drove past Nazareth, which was a small insignificant town in Jesus' day, and now is mostly an Arab community.  Arab homes have flat roofs, and they rarely finish off the houses.  The top of the house often has bars sticking up so they can later add a floor, usually for the son in the family to move to when he marries.  Arab Israeli's do not have to serve in the military like Jewish Israeli's do because Israel doesn't want to force them to fight other Arab's.  The Church of the Annunciation is in Nazareth.  It is a huge church that is totally dedicated to Mary, Jesus' mother.
We drove through the Jezreel Valley and past Megiddo (Armageddon), where archaeologists have uncovered the remains of more than 20 historical periods dating from 4000 BC to after AD 500.  In the New Testament, in the book of  Revelation, Armageddon is named as the place where the gathering of the forces will begin and the last great battle will be fought and the forces of good triumph over the forces of evil just before Christ's return to earth (Revelation 16:13-16).
We then went to Mount Carmel, where 250 sites have been discovered that have been inhabited by prehistoric humans beginning 100,000 years ago.  Elijah prayed on the top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:42-46), and he proved who the true God is to the prophets of Baal.  Then, to beautiful Caesarea, founded by Herod the Great.  It is a city that Paul visited three times, and he spent two years in prison there.
Then...Bethlehem, Jesus' birthplace (Luke 2:1-7).  Joseph and Mary, with baby Jesus, fled Bethlehem and went to Egypt to avoid the cruelty of Herod, who had all of the babies age two and younger killed in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the Messiah (Matthew 2:13-18).  The tomb of Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph, is located just outside of Bethlehem.  David was born there and was a shepherd there.  Our guide and bus driver were not allowed in Bethlehem because it is Palestinian and our guide and driver are Israeli.  We had to switch buses and ride with a Palestinian guide.  The Church of the Nativity was really beautiful.  We touched the rock where Jesus was born.  The church is actually divided into three churches:  Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic.  Each year, on television, a Roman Catholic service is shown on Christmas Eve from this church.  We then had a worship service in Bethlehem and sang Christmas songs.  It was lovely!  Now, to bed after a loooong day!

Today's Hebrew word:  ruach  spirit; enthusiasm
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