After four great days in Jordan it is time to cross the boarder into Israel. Israel takes the safety of their people and guest seriously it is a very safe place to visit. At the border we disembark the bus, our luggage goes through X-ray machines some are opened and searched. No playing here for sure! During our time in Jordan we visited Bethany Beyond the Jordan where Jesus public ministry began with His baptism by John the Baptist. We continue our path of Jesus preparation for public ministry during our visit in Israel. First stop after crossing the boarder in to Israel is the Mount of Temptation then on to Cana with a brief stop over at the Stella Maris Monastery.
Roughly six miles from the site of Jesus Baptism is the Mount of Temptation, also called Mount Quarantal (from quarantena meaning forty). Although our group only viewed the Mount from afar one can visit the site by taking a cable ride or for those with mountains of energy to spare, one can trek up a steep path. LOL see what I did there…
THE DEVIL TOOK HIM TO A VERY HIGH MOUNTAIN AND SHOWED HIM ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD AND THEIR SPLENDOR. –MT 4:8
Here we see one of many parallels between Jesus and Moses indicating Jesus is the new and greater Moses. The spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and just as Moses did, He he fasted for forty days and forty nights. During the forty days and forty nights the devil tried to get Jesus to sin. Jesus’ character was tested and He was triumphant. As I look at the Mount of Temptation from afar I am reminded that during my times of temptation God sends me angels to protect me and even in my time of failure God still offers me an open door.
Jesus performed his first public miracle during the wedding feast. The Franciscans have built a lovely Church above dwelling remains and perhaps even an early place of worship that dates back to the 1st century. On display in the lower part of the church is a large stone jar that is is believed to have been used for the Jewish purification ritual. It is customary for couples to renew their vows when visiting this chapel, we had three couples that participated in the lovely renewal service. It was a joy and an honor to be a part of thier renewal of vows.
Stella Maris, which means Star of the Sea, overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The monastery is the world headquarters of the Carmelites, a Catholic order of friers and nuns. When the visiting the church don’t forget to look up at the dome depicting Elijah being swept up to heaven in a chariot of fire. The church walls are a stunning Italian marble and a lovely cedar and porcelain statue of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sits above the altar. Such a beautiful dedication to both the Old and the New Testament.
Adjacent to the chapel are stairs that lead to Elijah’s Cave. Here the great prophet of the Old Testament found shelter and rested after his forty day journey. Elijahs assumption in to heaven is a reminder how magnificent Christs redemption is. Although I am not clear where Elijah went in the whirlwind and I do not completely understand how someone could enter heaven before the death of Christ, I do believe God is omnipotent. He could have taken them, body and soul, into some other realm. I do know through my faith that Jesus descended into Hell, Sheol, as the Savior to preach the good news to those who had died and gone before Him. He liberated those who, had been waiting for his Resurrection. I believe they are in heaven, I believe they hear my prayers for intercession and they pray for me.
Faith is more powerful than proof!