Our first visit today was the city of Caesarea by the Sea. This ancient city, founded by Herod the Great, the same Herod who was King when Christ was born, is my first testimony to better understand the reality that life goes on from generation to generation, and the physical places are in a constant state of change. This is a concept that most Americans simply do not appreciate only because of the short time our society has been in existence.
As I visited the ruins of the city, we learned that there is a pagan history, a byzantine history (which was Christian), a muslim history, a crusader history, and a modern history. In each of these eras, certain buildings were torn down and new buildings, especially religious ones, were built on the foundations of the old. On a single hill which is in total ruins today, has stood a pagan temple, a byzantine Church, a mosque, and a crusader church. None of these exist today, but a short distance from the old mount, is a mosque built in the early 1900’s.
Caesarea by the Sea was built as a Roman city, and therefore had always maintained the basic structure of roads, amphitheater, hippodrome, baths, etc. Most of the ancient city is total ruins, but a fairly new city which is growing and vibrant has developed outside the old city walls.
Our second stop today was the city of Haifa, near the place where the Prophet Elias had defeated the prophets of Baal. There is a Roman Catholic Monastery Church on the site, built above the cave of Prophet Elias.
Also in Haifa is a beautiful garden where they have built a large Baha’i temple. The Hanging Gardens were pristinely kept, and visitors are forbidden to chew gum, eat or drink in the gardens. I found myself wondering what would happen if we treated our Churches with the same expectations. It has become apparent that, for whatever reason which I will not discuss in this blog, that we no longer expect our Churches to be treated with dignity and respect. Often times, we ourselves do not respect the very Churches our grandparents built. It makes me wonder if they will even be standing in one hundred years, let alone for centuries as the churches we are visiting this week.
We ended the day by arriving at our hotel in Tiberias where we will spend three nights. Tomorrow will begin on the Sea of Galilee and then to Capernaum and the Sermon on the Mount! Two days have gone by so quickly, I pray that we are able to make the most of the relatively few days we have in the Holy Lands. Please pray for us!