Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mt. Carmel

From Caesarea to Mt. Carmel "God's Vineyard"
This is where Elijah met with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:

Ahab was the king of Judah and "did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him"- not a great way to be described- and Elijah told Ahab, "As Yahweh, the God Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."  While God judges those who do evil, He also provides for those who serve Him.  Elijah was fed by ravens in the Kerith Ravine and later by a widow in Zarephath.   Just as Elijah said, Samaria entered a severe famine and Ahab (and Jezebel) were so enraged they began killing the Lord's prophets.  After a long time, the LORD told Elijah to "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land."  Despite the death threat from Ahab, Elijah responds, "As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today."

As we looked out across the horizon from Mt. Carmel, T.J. read the powerful story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal and reminded us of why this is the LORD whom we serve.

"Elijah replied, 'You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals.  Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel.  And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.' So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.  Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'"

Elijah had the prophets of Baal place a bull on the alter and not set fire to it.  Elijah did the same.  "Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD.  The god who answers by fire-- he is God."  The prophets of Baal called on their god all day... shouting, dancing, and cutting themselves.  Elijah made fun of their efforts and said maybe their god is sleeping or "relieving himself".  By the time evening came, "there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention."

Elijah prepared his sacrifice and had four large jars of water, three times, poured on the offering and wood of the alter.  A simple prayer to the one true God and...
"Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The LORD- he is God!  The LORD- he is God!"'  

The story ends with Elijah commanding them to seize every prophet of Baal and kill them in the Kishon Valley.  You can see the valley in the picture above. You may ask why God had Elijah slaughter all of the prophets of Baal.  My dad pointed out that God wanted to stop false teaching and made it clear that He meant what He said in the 10 commandments.
"You shall have no other gods before me."

A stone monastery was built on Mt. Carmel in the late 1800's over Byzantine ruins.  This Roman Catholic monastic order, called the Carmelites, look to Elijah as their role model.  
We took steps to the roof of the monastery to view an incredible panorama of the Jezreel Valley, hills of Nazareth and even as far as Mt. Hermon.
 Kevin and Page were awesome leaders of the Blue Bus!!! 
 Isn't that the coolest cactus flower you've ever seen!!
I love this simple iron cross on the Carmelite monastery.
After we left Mt. Carmel monastery, we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch and enjoyed some tasty falafel.  I hope to have a falafel recipe coming soon :)
This restaurant was in a Druze neighborhood (and if I heard correctly, the restaurant was owned by a Druze family)  The Druze are an Arabic-speaking people who practice a secret religion and live in the areas of Mt. Carmel and Upper Galilee.  This religion broke away from Islam over 1,000 years ago and practice secretly so they are not persecuted.  
This sweet little boy was riding all around the restaurant:
I felt like I was back in Cuba with all the cats running around while we were eating.
Sorry, but I am not a cat person. at all.  Mainly because my eyes turn red and itchy.
Next stop, Megiddo.  On our way we passed this tomb from the 2nd temple period.

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