The Holy Land – Part 12 – The Golan Heights and Dan

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Disciple, Discipleship, god is calling, Grace, great commission, Holy Land, Israel, Jesus

Our next stop will take us to the furthest most point in northern Israel overlooking a valley where Syria and Israel meet.  An interesting fact along the way was that the road we were traveling on was in fact the Damascus Road, the very road (unpaved of course) where Saul, being on his way to Damascus to hunt down “Christians” (located in modern day Syria), heard from Jesus and would later became Paul – from a Pharisee hunting down followers of Jesus and killing them, to writer of over 30% of the New Testament!  When you encounter Jesus, you really are radically changed!

Acts 9:1-19 – But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision,“Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
The Damascus Road

The Damascus Road

We first visited the Nature Park at Tel Dan.  This site is the location of the springs where the Jordan River begins.  At this Nature Preserve, we had the opportunity to hike a trail along the Jordan River to see the springs where it begins.  The first picture below is one of the springs that feeds the rivers beginning, and just a few yards down stream you can see the river is already flowing with rapids!

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The Jordan River Just a Few Yards from the Springs

The Jordan River Just a Few Yards from the Springs

Just up the trail from the springs was the ancient temple of Augustus where worship of the pagan god Pan occurred.  This incredibly sick pagan worship involved sacrificing children to Pan in the carved out cavern in the following picture.

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Along the way there were still signs of war as random tanks were left after one of the conflicts between Israel, Jordan and Syria.  This site was just a few short miles from the border of Syria, a border where much conflict still occurs almost weekly!

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Our final stop this day was a dormant volcanic park overlooking the UN Facility at the Syrian border.  This is the site where ISIS had come in and kidnapped UN Peacekeepers from this site…however, Israel sent in forces to retrieve the captives and shortly after they shut down this facility.  This is also the site where earlier in the week a Syrian jet was shot down as it was heading toward Israel in the buffer zone where no aircraft are allowed.

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To the Left is the UN Facility, the Hills are in Syria, and in Between is the Buffer Zone

This was a very surreal area as it really brought to life how close all these warring nations really are.  The Middle East is a hotbed of conflict and it all stems around the Jews and the Arabs dating back to Abraham’s two sons – Isaac and Ishmael.  Isaac was the promised son in whom the nation of Israel would be born.  He was the son in whom the inheritance of this entire region was promised.  However, Abraham and Sarah were very old and impatient.  Sarah gave one of her maids to Abraham to bear a child, in which Ishmael was born.  Abraham was promised that Ishmael would also be a great nation and would be at war with Isaac.  Ishmael, as you have guessed, is the father of the Arab nation, and that conflict continues to this day!

Genesis 15 records the promise from God that He would provide Abraham and Sarah a son.  Genesis 16 records their impatience where Sarah gives her maid Hagar to Abraham and Hagar bears Abraham a son, and he named him Ishmael.  Genesis 21 tells of Isaac’s birth and God gives Hagar the promise that Ishmael will not be forgotten.  Isaac and Ishmael are both promised many descendents by God.  Because of Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief that God would provide a child through Sarah even in their old age, and their disobedient act of thwarting that promise, the Middle East is at war to this very day!

Next week, we will discuss the culmination of the ongoing wars in the Middle East as we visit Megiddo (the Valley of Armageddon) and also our final day in Israel at Caesarea and Tel Aviv!  Until then, Shallom!

 

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